Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vietnam, the Socialist Republic: A Short Summary

Differentiating Characteristics:

1) Agricultural civilization based on wet rice cultivating is modernizing. Influenced by China, Vietnamese emphasize the values of filial duty, education and self-betterment

2) Controlled media. Tourism and the film media are expanding.

3) Long notable for stilt dwellings, bronze tools and drums, betel-nut chewing and teeth-blackening.

Historical and Geographical Facts:

1) Under Chinese control until 10th C, successive dynasties followed by French in mid-19th C. became part of French Indochina in 1885. Invaded by Japanese in WWII. First Indochina War 1946-1954, between Soviet-backed Viet Minh and French forces. Communists gained ground until Vietnam War ended with a communist victory in 1975 (see also Laos).

2) Postwar, humanitarian crisis occurred caused by collectivization of private lands and businesses and widespread arrests. Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 to remove Khmer Rouge and relied again on Soviets when China invaded North Vietnam. Ravaged by war, reformed in a big shift by communist leaders in 1986, economy revived with privatizations and grew fast. Diplomatic ties returned by 2000, joined World Trade Organization in 2007, and the United Nations Security Council in 2008.

3) Larger than Italy, almost the size of Germany. Pop. 86 mil. Mostly hills and mountains, level land: 20%. Mekong Delta changes in size naturally. Monsoonal climate: winter or dry season is roughly from November to April. Has established many conservation areas, for the study of species diversity.

Economic Facts:

1) Achieved recent rapid growth in agricultural (rice, coffee, tea, cashew nuts, fish and rubber) and industrial production, construction, housing, exports and foreign investments. Vietnam is still a single-party state while transitioning to a market economy.

2) The role of the military has reduced substantially since the 1980s. “Although the state remains officially committed to socialism as its defining creed, the ideology's importance has substantially diminished since the 1990s.”*

3) The road system is the most popular form of transportation, by bicycle, scooters, and motorcycles. Public bus operated by private companies offer long-distance travel. Automobiles are booming and causing congestion. Waterways and seven ports are significant.

General Facts:

1) Buddhism became the dominant religion. Traditional wedding is the most important celebration, with traditional garments worn.

2) In 1804, King Gia Long named it “Viet” (for a large ethnic group) and “Nam” for “the south” (as opposed to China, “the north”).

3) English study is obligatory in most schools. There is a state-controlled network offering free instruction only until age 11, then it is private. Sports are popular. Vietnam has its own art, theater, dance, literature and music.

*Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam

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