General Information

Capital: Hanoi

Official Language: Vietnamese 

Religion: No official religion

  • 45% Vietnamese Folk Religions
  • 28% No Religion
  • 14.9% Buddhism
  • 8.5% Christianity
  • 1.5% Hoahaoism
  • 1.2%Caodaism

Government: Unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic

  • The prime minister is the head of government. The president is the elected head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. 

Legislature: National Assembly 

Area: 331, 212 km2 

Location: Along the eastern coastline of mainland Southeast Asia

Population: 99,460,000

Climate: Vietnam has a tropical climate. Northern Vietnam has a subtropical climate while Southern Vietnam is hot all year round. Central Vietnam is further divided into northern and southern parts, with the northern part of Central Vietnam experiencing cold periods similar to greater Northern Vietnam. South Central Vietnam is hot the entire year, like the rest of Southern Vietnam. 

  • Monsoon winds are prevalent from November to April, carrying a lot of moisture with them. During this monsoon season, regions of the country will receive anywhere from 59 inches to 79 inches of rainfall, on average. This often causes flooding.
  • Vietnam and its citizens are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Over half of the population live in low-elevation coastal areas. 

Geography: Vietnam covers a majority of the eastern Indochinese Peninsula coastline, 3444 km (2140 miles), of it! It looks like a long, thin strip of land - at its narrowest point, Vietnam is only about 50 km or 31 miles long in the centrally located Quảng Bình Province. 

  • About 40% of Vietnam’s land area is mountainous.
  • About 42% of the land area is tropical forest
  • There are two major deltas, the Red River Delta and the Mekong River Delta
  • Southern Vietnam has coastal lowlands, the Annamite mountain range, and lots of forest land. 
  • Vietnam is ranked 16th in the world for biological diversity. The country is home to about 16% of the entire world’s species.


  • GDP: $408.947 billion (2022 estimate)
  • Currency: đồng (₫) (VND)
  • Historically, Vietnam’s economy was based largely on agriculture, specifically wet rice cultivation. Today, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of cashews and black pepper. They are the second-largest exporter of rice (after Thailand) and coffee. 
  • Now, manufacturing, information technology, and other high-tech industries comprise a large and rapidly-growing part of Vietnam’s national economy.
  • Vietnam is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, despite being a relative newcomer to the oil industry.
  • As of 2018, the US bought the greatest amount of Vietnam’s exports.
  • The ‘exclusive economic zone of Vietnam’ covers 417,663 km2 in the South China Sea
  • Tourism is a very significant and vital part of Vietnam’s economy, contributing 7.5% of the country’s total GDP.
  • Vietnam is a member of 63 international organizations, including the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organization (WTO), and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  • The unemployment rate in Vietnam is 2.4%, as of 2022. 

Doing Business:

  • Businesses in Vietnam are very hierarchical; they are highly influenced by the eldest member of the company. Elders are treated with great respect in Vietnamese culture. 
  • When gathering for a business meeting, elders are usually given the privilege of entering the room first, another example of showing them respect.
  • Although English is often spoken in Vietnam’s business culture, taking the time to learn how to say certain phrases and words in Vietnamese will be greatly appreciated by your foreign colleagues. But be careful! Because their language is ‘tonal’, many phrases have multiple meanings that depend on pronunciation. For example: ‘Hello’ has five different meanings.
  • You will most likely need an interpreter and/or translator for official business, especially concerning documentation. 
  • A handshake and slight head bow are customary when saying both hello and goodbye.
  • Exchanging business cards is an important ritual. Make sure your information is in English on one side, and Vietnamese on the other. Offer it (always to the eldest colleague first) Vietnamese side up, with both hands. Also accept any business cards with both hands, and read it carefully before putting it away, this is a sign of respect.
  • When eating out for business (or anytime), guests must wait to be seated. Often, the eldest member of the party will be seated first. When passing food, always use both hands to pass items. Never gesture with your chopsticks, or stick them into the food vertically; always lay them across the top of your bowl. 

History & Culture: 

  • For over a thousand years, Vietnam was ruled by various Chinese dynasties until they surrendered to France in 1883.
  • In the 1950’s, Vietnam was split into two parts as a result of treaties signed between the Viet Minh and France. Shortly after, North Vietnam and South Vietnam went to war against each other, with each side being supported by communist vs. capitalist global powers. After North Vietnam won the war, the country was reunified as a unitary socialist state in 1976.
  • Vietnam has two UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites - the Hạ Long Bay and Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park.
  • Bicycles, motorcycles, and motor scooters/mopeds are the most popular forms of road transportation. 
  • About ⅔ of Vietnam’s people live in rural areas, ⅓ in urban areas. The largest city is Ho Chi Minh.
  • While Vietnamese is the official language, French and English are both common second languages.
  • Vietnam’s culture is an amalgamation of indigenous ancient Đông Sơn culture, Chinese cultural influence, and French colonial influence. 
  • Tet means ‘festival of the first day’ and is the biggest festival in Vietnam. It is the celebration of the Lunar New Year, symbolizing renewal and hope.
  • Vietnamese society is structured around làng, or ancestral villages. All Vietnamese people denote a common ancestral anniversary on the 10th day of the third lunar month. 
  • Vietnamese cuisine is based around five fundamental ‘elements’ of taste: spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet. Popular Vietnamese foods are phở noodle soup, and the bánh mì sandwich.


Vietnam - Wikipedia

International Business Guide - Vietnam - HSBC