Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
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Vietnam

Map for Vietnam
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  • Reducing pollution and managing urban waste helps improve health in Haiphong, Vietnam.
  • A turtle farm uses the water from the rice crop and provides extra food and income for farmers in Vietnam.
  • People fishing in Ha Long Bay, north-east Vietnam.
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a large bustling city of seven million people, which mixes old and new architecture.
  • Clean running water in homes improves health and reduces work in Vietnam.
  • Quach Thoi Dai pours dirty water into a large container lined with alum to make sediment fall to the bottom.
  • The Indochinese box turtle, Cuora galbinifrons, once common across much of South-East Asia, is now listed as critically endangered.
  • Local villagers Binh and Thien are employed to care for more than 500 turtles at the Turtle Conservation Center.
  • A local keeper checking a big-headed turtle, platysternon megacephalum
  • A man lowers his fishing net into the river to catch fish for his family's evening meal in Vietnam.
  • Dao Van Manh in Vietnam has installed a sand filter to clean his stored water.
  • In a health clinic in Vietnam, water is pumped into a storage tank and distributed by pipes using the water pressure.

Case studies

Mekong Delta water and sanitation

People bathe and do their laundry on the banks of the Sekong River in southern Laos before it joins the Mekong River.
Developing water and sanitation systems has improved the health of people living along the Mekong River, and the local economy.
Read more

People conserving Asian turtles

A local keeper checking a big-headed turtle, platysternon megacephalum
New programs are addressing uncontrolled use of turtles for food, traditional medicine, pets and jewellery: all practices that threaten turtle extinction.
Read more

Rice

Newly planted paddy rice seedlings in a field near Sekong, Laos.
Traditional rice production is backbreaking work and often has low yields.
Read more
Flag of Vietnam

Population:

93,421,835

GDP per capita (PPP US$):

4,780

Population living on less than US$1.25 per day:

17%

Adult literacy rate:

94%

Access to water:

95%
Did you know?

In Vietnam the Mekong Delta is known as Song Cuu Long or Nine Dragons River.

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Geography

Physical geography

Vietnam is an ‘S’ shaped country bordering China, Laos and Cambodia. A long, narrow coastal plain links the Red River Delta in the north and Mekong River Delta in the south. It is 1,650 kilometres from north to south but at its narrowest point is only 50 kilometres across. The total land area is 329,560 square kilometres. The mountain range stretching the length of the country covers about two-thirds of the country. The highest peak in Vietnam is Fan-si-Pan, 3,143 metres, in the extreme north.

Climate

Due to variation in latitude and topography, climatic conditions in Vietnam vary widely. The major regions are the tropical, southern lowlands, the wet, temperate central highlands and the cool mountainous northern area. Typhoons can affect the north and central areas between July and November.

Environment

The monsoonal climate leads to rich and diverse vegetation. Population pressure, chemical residues from the war (1962–75) and logging have affected the forested areas and the wildlife dependent on them. Following the banning of unprocessed timber exports, the introduction of education programs and reforestation projects, and declaration of a system of national parks the situation has begun to improve.

Animals include elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, leopards, black bears, snub-nosed monkeys, crocodiles and turtles. A number of previously unknown species have recently been discovered, including the saola, a cattle-like animal first found in 1992, which is already under threat. There are more than 800 types of trees including ironwood, oak, teak and mahogany.

Ha Long Bay, in the country’s north, features 1,600 islands shaped by the water into towering peaks with caves and inland lakes. It was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1994.

Population

Most of Vietnam’s population of 88 million lives in the densely settled Red River and Mekong River deltas. Half of Vietnam’s population lives in urban areas. The major cities are Ho Chi Minh City (formerly named Saigon), Hanoi, the capital city and Haiphong. The ethnic minority groups, which make up 14% of the population, live mainly in the mountainous areas and also the Mekong Delta (Khmer).

People

Culture and identity

Around 86% of Vietnam’s population of 88 million are ethnic Vietnamese. They are influenced by Confucianism, in particular the principle of respect for their elders. There are also Chinese, Thai, Khmer, Cham people and about 53 ethnic minority groups who are known as Montagnards as they live in the mountainous areas. These minority groups follow their own customs and traditions and mostly live a nomadic life.

Popular artistic forms include silk painting, theatre, puppetry, music and dance, lacquer ware and ceramics.

Health

There is a state system of social security and the healthcare system is extensive and well planned. The average life expectancy is 75 years (male: 73 and female: 77). Infant mortality rate is 20 per 1,000 live births. The most common diseases affecting general health are malaria, tuberculosis, intestinal infections, diphtheria and chicken pox.

Around 94% of the population has access to safe water while only 75% has access to safe sanitation. Government health programs are improving hygiene habits and limiting the spread of disease. The contribution of traditional medicine practices, including acupuncture, is important in the healthcare system. About 280,000 (0.5%) people are living with HIV/AIDS (mainly injecting drug users).

Religion and beliefs

The majority of Vietnamese are Buddhist. There are two sects developed from Buddhism, Hoa Hoa and Cao Dai, which is influenced by Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity. Due to a strong Chinese influence Confucianism and Taoism are also followed, as are Christianity and Islam. Animism – the belief in spirits – is strong in rural and highland areas.

Food and shelter

Key ingredients in Vietnamese food include rice and noodles, vegetables, pork, poultry, beef, seafood, a variety of fresh herbs and fish sauce. Large bowls of noodle soup with vegetables and meat are common; and fried or fresh rice paper rolls are popular snacks. The French colonial influence is seen predominantly through baguettes. Fruit is abundant and some of the unusual items include dragon fruit, longan, mangosteen, pomelo, three-seed cherry and water apple. Meals are cooked on small burners, placed on the table for everyone to select from and are eaten with chopsticks. The elderly have first choice and parents use their chopsticks to select food for small children.

Homes are generally small but vary greatly according to the climate and the materials available. They may be made of cement or bricks with a metal roof, or of bamboo or clay with a thatched roof. Boats and houses on stilts with curved roofs are traditional in the delta regions. A room or corner is often set aside for an altar for ancestor worship.

Economy


Wealth and poverty

There are marked income and consumption level differences, with the top 10% of the population holding over 30% of the wealth while the lowest 10% has just 3%. About 12.3% (2009) of the population, mainly in rural areas, lives below the poverty line; a figure that has been steadily declining over the past ten years thanks to broad economic growth and government programs to improve access to education, healthcare and loans to the poorest inhabitants.

Education and work

In Vietnamese culture, education is highly prized and respected. Education is compulsory at primary level and 93% of students progress to secondary school. There is a high adult literacy rate of 93% (male: 95%, female: 91%), although the rate is much lower among ethnic minorities.

Industries and products

Agricultural products such as rice, rubber, coffee and tea are the main source of income. The major industries are steel, coal, electricity, crude oil, food processing and machinery, fertilisers, cement, paper, shoes and clothing manufacture.

Trade

Vietnam’s major exports include rice, crude oil, fish and seafood, coffee, rubber, timber products, coffee, cashews, pepper, tea, clothes and shoes. The USA, Japan, China and Switzerland are the main countries receiving these goods.

Vietnam imports machinery, petroleum products, fertilisers, steel products, pharmaceuticals, plastics, chemicals and raw cotton, mainly from China, Japan and South Korea.

Government

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is one of the world’s few remaining one-party communist states. The country is led by General Secretary Ngyen Phu Tong, who was elected by the Communist Party of Vietnam in January 2011.

The government controls the media and internet monitoring has been introduced. There are concerns in human rights organisations for citizen journalists and bloggers who are critical of the government. The rights of peaceful activists and religious minorities are also a concern.

Achievements and challenges

Vietnam had aimed to become an industrialised country by 2010. However poverty still affects the rural population, ethnic minorities and women.

The north and central areas of Vietnam are subjected to typhoons during the months of May to January. Extensive flooding occurs frequently in the Mekong River Delta.

Recent education programs, policy changes and the development of national parks are addressing the issue of deforestation caused by slash-and-burn agriculture and commercial logging.

Vietnam has made rapid progress on all eight Millennium Development Goals. The two remaining areas of concern are HIV/AIDS (MDG 6) and Sanitation (MDG 7). Nearly all children complete primary school and move on to secondary education, with figures consistent across all regions and in urban and rural areas. Under-five and infant mortality have been halved since the 1990s and the government has shown a strong commitment to environmental sustainability and international cooperation.

Links with Australia

Three waves of migration from Vietnam to Australia occurred following the Vietnam War. In the years immediately following the end of the war, orphaned children and soldiers’ wives came to Australia, followed by refugees between 1975 and 1990, and family reunions after 1990.

The Vietnam-born community in Australia was 159,850 in the 2006 census. New South Wales had the largest number with 63,790 followed by Victoria (58,5701), Queensland (13,080) and South Australia (10,550).

Australia established diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1973. During the 1980s, when Vietnam was internationally isolated, Australia provided aid through multilateral organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme. In 2009 the two countries signed the Australia – Viet Nam Comprehensive Partnership, which will see closer collaboration on a range of economic, defence, security and development issues.

In 2009–10 Vietnam imported Australian goods worth AUD1.4 billion; exports to Australia totalled AUD3.1 billion. Australia’s aid program focuses on:

  • adapting to, and mitigating against climate change challenges; including natural disaster preparedness, rehabilitation of mangrove forests and identifying future challenges for the Mekong Delta
  • improving the quality of Vietnam’s human resources
  • developing better transport infrastructure and policy to support economic integration
  • increasing rural access to clean water and hygienic sanitation
  • developing more sustainable and resilient systems in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

 

Reducing pollution and managing urban waste helps improve health in Haiphong, Vietnam.
Photo by Alan Coulthart for AusAID
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Reducing pollution and managing urban waste helps improve health in Haiphong, Vietnam. Photo by Alan Coulthart for AusAID
A turtle farm uses the water from the rice crop and provides extra food and income for farmers in Vietnam.
Photo by Michael Wightman for AusAID
Print | Save
A turtle farm uses the water from the rice crop and provides extra food and income for farmers in Vietnam. Photo by Michael Wightman for AusAID
People fishing in Ha Long Bay, north-east Vietnam.
Photo by Bruce Bailey for AusAID
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People fishing in Ha Long Bay, north-east Vietnam. Photo by Bruce Bailey for AusAID
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a large bustling city of seven million people, which mixes old and new architecture.
Photo by magicinfoto/shutterstock.com
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Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a large bustling city of seven million people, which mixes old and new architecture. Photo by magicinfoto/shutterstock.com
Clean running water in homes improves health and reduces work in Vietnam.
Photo courtesy of Coffey International Development
Print | Save
Clean running water in homes improves health and reduces work in Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Coffey International Development
Quach Thoi Dai pours dirty water into a large container lined with alum to make sediment fall to the bottom.
Photo by Will Salter for AusAID
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Quach Thoi Dai pours dirty water into a large container lined with alum to make sediment fall to the bottom. Photo by Will Salter for AusAID
The Indochinese box turtle, Cuora galbinifrons, once common across much of South-East Asia, is now listed as critically endangered.
Photo by Chris Banks
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The Indochinese box turtle, Cuora galbinifrons, once common across much of South-East Asia, is now listed as critically endangered. Photo by Chris Banks
Local villagers Binh and Thien are employed to care for more than 500 turtles at the Turtle Conservation Center.
Photo © Cuc Phuong National Park Turtle Conservation Centre
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Local villagers Binh and Thien are employed to care for more than 500 turtles at the Turtle Conservation Center. Photo © Cuc Phuong National Park Turtle Conservation Centre
A local keeper checking a big-headed turtle, platysternon megacephalum
Photo © Cuc Phuong National Park Turtle Conservation Centre
Print | Save
A local keeper checking a big-headed turtle, platysternon megacephalum Photo © Cuc Phuong National Park Turtle Conservation Centre
A man lowers his fishing net into the river to catch fish for his family's evening meal in Vietnam.
Photo by Bruce Bailey for AusAID
Print | Save
A man lowers his fishing net into the river to catch fish for his family's evening meal in Vietnam. Photo by Bruce Bailey for AusAID
Dao Van Manh in Vietnam has installed a sand filter to clean his stored water.
Photo by AusAID
Print | Save
Dao Van Manh in Vietnam has installed a sand filter to clean his stored water. Photo by AusAID
In a health clinic in Vietnam, water is pumped into a storage tank and distributed by pipes using the water pressure.
Photo by AusAID
Print | Save
In a health clinic in Vietnam, water is pumped into a storage tank and distributed by pipes using the water pressure. Photo by AusAID