• The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Capital of which is Hanoi, is one of the world’s last surviving one-party Communist states. It shares land borders with China, Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam comprises over 330,000 square kilometres, with more than 3400km of coastline.

• Vietnam has a population of ninety million, of which around seventy percent live in the countryside, giving Vietnam some of the highest rural population densities in Southeast Asia. Over half the people are under 25 years old and thirteen percent belong to one of the many ethnic minority groups.

• Over half of the Vietnamese population earn their living from agriculture. The average per capita income hovers around $1000 a year, though many people survive on less than $2 a day.

• During the last decade the Vietnamese economy has grown at over seven percent a year. Vietnam has transformed itself from being a rice-importer before 1986 to become the world’s second largest rice-exporter after Thailand. The percentage of households living in poverty has fallen from seventy percent in the 1980s to around ten percent today.

• Vietnam is home to a tremendous diversity of plant and animal life, including some of the world’s rarest species, a number of which have only been discovered in the last few years. The Asiatic black bear, Sarus crane and Golden-headed langur are just some of the endangered species maintaining a toehold in the forests and wetlands of Vietnam.

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