Vietnam

Motto: Độc lập - Tự do - Hạnh phúc

(Vietnamese, "Independence, liberty, happiness")

Anthem: Tiến Quân Ca
Capital Hanoi
21°2′ N 105°51′ E
Largest city Ho Chi Minh City
Official language(s) Vietnamese
Government President
Prime Minister
Communist single-party state
Trần Đức Lương
Phan Văn Khải
Independence
Declared
Recognized
From France
September 2, 1945
1954
Area
 • Total
 • Water (%)
 
329,560 km² (65th)
1.3
Population
 • 2005 est.
 • 1999 census

 • Density
 
83,535,576 (13th)
76,323,173

253/km² (31st)
GDP (PPP)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2005 estimate
$231.6 billion (39th)
$2,782 (131st)
HDI (2003) 0.704 (108th) – medium
Currency đồng (₫) (VND)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
(UTC+7)
(UTC+8, does not observe)
Internet TLD .vn
Calling code +84

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, or Vietnam, is a communist country in Southeast Asia. Situated in eastern Indochina, it borders China, Laos, Cambodia, as well as the South China Sea.

Terminology

The name of the country comes from the Vietnamese Việt Nam, which is in turn a reordering of Nam Việt, the name of an ancient kingdom from the ancestral Vietnamese that covered much of today's northern Vietnam. Its cognate name in Chinese, Yuè Nán (越南; Yut6 Naam4 in Cantonese) means "southern extension".

History

Vietnamese legends hold that native people populated and civilized the land more than 4,000 years ago. Chinese historical records tell of an indigenous people that existed about 2,500 years ago. Some historians, both in Asia and in the West, hold that the various peoples of today's Vietnam were brought together by a Qin Dynasty-era general who was fed up with the despotic rule of the Qin Shi Huang (First emperor of China proper) and escaped to the "southern Yue [Viet] mountains" to set up his own kingdom. He and his soldiers conquered the land and established a civilized society modeled after ancient Chinese customs. This Chinese general adopted the native language (which sounded similar to southern Chinese dialects anyway) and married local women, who gave birth to sons that inherited the kingdom. Whether this is indeed historically true or not is still subject to debate.

What is known for sure is that for most of the period from 207 BC to the early 10th century, it was under the rule of successive dynasties of China. Sporadic independence movements were attempted, but were quickly extinguished by the Chinese army. In 939, the Vietnamese defeated Chinese forces at the Bach Dang River and gained independence. They gained complete autonomy a century later. For most of its history, Vietnam has been strongly influenced by its much bigger northern neighbor, China. However, during the rule of the Tran Dynasty, it defeated three Mongol attempts of invasion by the Yuan Dynasty. Feudalism in Vietnam reached its zenith in the Le Dynasty 1400s, especially with the emperor Le Thanh Tong. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, the Vietnamese expanded southward in a process known as nam tiến (southward expansion). They eventually conquered the kingdom of Champa and much of the Khmer empire. The independent period ended in the mid-19th century, when the country was colonized by France.

French rule continued until World War II, when Japan briefly occupied Vietnam and used the country as a base to launch attacks against the rest of Indochina and India. When the war ended, France attempted to re-establish control but failed, after they were defeated at Dien Bien Phu. The Geneva Accords subsequently divided the country into North Vietnam and South Vietnam, separated by a demilitarized zone.

During the Cold War, the North was supported by China and the Soviet Union while the South was supported by United States.

The conflict quickly escalated into the Vietnam War. The war continued even after the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973, which formally recognized the sovereignty of both sides.

The Bản Giốc Falls in Cao Bằng, North Vietnam

All American troops were withdrawn by March 29, 1973. By April 30, 1975, North Vietnam had overtaken South Vietnam and by 1976, Vietnam was officially unified under the North Vietnamese government as The Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

After reunification, political and economic conditions deteriorated to near-famine conditions. Millions of South Vietnamese became boat people over the next two decades. In late 1978, the Cambodian people, with the support of the Vietnamese army, removed the Khmer Rouge from power. Only one month later, however, partially in retaliation, China launched a short-lived incursion into Vietnam: the Sino-Vietnamese War.

In 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam implemented economic reforms known as đổi mới (renovation). During much of the 1990s, economic growth was rapid, and Vietnam reintegrated into the international community. It reestablished diplomatic relations with the United States in 1995, one year after the United States' trade embargo on Vietnam was repealed.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Vietnam

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is governed through a highly centralized system dominated by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) (Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam), which was formerly the Vietnamese Labor Party (1951-1976). The Socialist Republic of Vietnam exists today as a communist state. From 2001 until now, Nong Duc Manh has been General Secretary of CPV. Senior Politburo members (Trần Đức Lương, Phan Văn Khải, Nguyễn Văn An, Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, Lê Hồng Anh, Phạm Văn Trà and Trương Quang Được) concurrently hold high positions in the Government and the National Assembly.

There are no legal opposition parties in Vietnam, although a number of opposition groups do exist scattered overseas among exile communities within countries such as France and the United States. These communities have supported demonstrations and civil disobedience against the government. The most prominent are the Vietnamese Constitutional Monarchist League, and the Government of Free Vietnam. The Government of Free Vietnam has claimed responsibility for a number of guerilla raids into Vietnam, which the Vietnamese government has denounced as terrorism.

Former political parties include the nationalist Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng of Nguyễn Thái Học, the Can Lao party of the Ngô Đình Diệm government and the Viet Nam Duy Tan Hoi of Phan Bội Châu during the colonial period.

Vietnam is a member of the United Nations, La Francophonie, ASEAN, and APEC, and applied for membership to the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Provinces

Main article: Provinces of Vietnam

Vietnam's capital (thủ đô, singular and plural) is Hà Nội (Hà Nội). There are also four municipalities (thành phố trực thuộc Trung ương, singular and plural) existing at provincial level: Cần Thơ, Đà Nẵng, Hải Phòng, and Hồ Chí Minh City (Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh). Ho Chi Minh City was formerly known as Sài Gòn (Sài Gòn). Now, Saigon is understood as heart of the city (central area of the District 1).

Besides the five cities, the country is divided into fifty-nine provinces (tỉnh, singular and plural): An Giang, Bắc Giang, Bắc Cạn, Bạc Liêu, Bắc Ninh, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Bến Tre, Bình Định, Bình Dương, Bình Phước, Bình Thuận, Cà Mau, Cao Bằng, Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Điện Biên, Đồng Nai, Đồng Tháp, Gia Lai, Hà Giang, Hải Dương, Hà Nam, Hà Tây, Hà Tĩnh, Hòa Bình, Hậu Giang, Hưng Yên, Khánh Hòa, Kiên Giang, Kon Tum, Lai Châu, Lâm Đồng, Lạng Sơn, Lào Cai, Long An, Nam Định, Nghệ An, Ninh Bình, Ninh Thuận, Phú Thọ, Phú Yên, Quảng Bình, Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Quảng Ninh, Quảng Trị, Sóc Trăng, Sơn La, Tây Ninh, Thái Bình, Thái Nguyên, Thanh Hóa, Thừa Thiên-Huế, Tiền Giang, Trà Vinh, Tuyên Quang, Vĩnh Long, Vĩnh Phúc, Yên Bái.

Geography

Map of Vietnam

Main article: Geography of Vietnam

The country is approximately 331,688 square kilometers (128,066 mi²) in area, which is slightly larger than New Mexico and slightly smaller than Germany. The topography consists of hills and densely forested mountains, with level land covering no more than 20 percent. Mountains account for 40 percent, hills 40 percent, and forests 75 percent. The northern part of the country consists of highlands and the Red River Delta. Phan Xi Păng, located in Lào Cai province, is the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143 metres (10,312 ft). The south is divided into coastal lowlands, Dai Truong Son (central mountains) with high plateaus, and the Mekong River Delta.

The climate is tropical and monsoonal; humidity averages 84 percent throughout the year. Annual rainfall ranges from 120 to 300 centimetres (47 to 118 inches), and annual temperatures vary between 5°C (41°F) and 37°C (99°F).

Land boundaries: Total: 4,639 km (2,883 mi) Border countries: Cambodia 1,228 km (763 mi), China 1,281 km (796 mi), Laos 2,130 m (1,324 mi)

Economy

Main article: Economy of Vietnam

In 1986, the Sixth Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam formally abandoned Marxist economic planning and began introducing market elements as part of a broad economic reform package called "đổi mới" ("Renovation").

In many ways, this followed the Chinese model and achieved similar results. On the one hand, Vietnam achieved around 8% annual GDP growth from 1990 to 1997 and continued at around 7% from 2000 to 2002, making it the world's second-fastest growing economy. Simultaneously, investment grew three-fold and domestic savings quintupled.

On the other hand, urban unemployment has been rising steadily in recent years due to high numbers of migration from the countryside to the cities, and rural unemployment, estimated to be up to 35% during nonharvest periods, is already at critical levels. Layoffs in the state sector and foreign-invested enterprises combined with the lasting effects of a previous military demobilization further exacerbated the unemployment situation. The country is attempting to become a member of the WTO. Vietnam, however, is still a relatively poor country with GDP of US$227.2 billion (est., 2004). This translates to US$2700 per capita. Inflation rate is estimated at 14% per year in 2004. This figure has been scaled down by the Government to 9.5% per annum to avoid the ‘double digit’ classification.

The spending power of the public has noticeably increased. The reason lies in the high property prices. In Hanoi, the capital, property prices can be as high as those in Tokyo or New York City. This has amazed many people because GDP per capita of this city is around US$1,000 per annum. The booming prices have given the poor land owners the opportunity to sell their homes for inflated prices. Corruption, bribery and embezzlement committed by many government officials have pushed property prices even higher, as real estate investment is a popular form of money laundering.

Tourism has become an increasingly important industry in Vietnam. Many of the over 3 million annual visitors are Vietnam war veterans.

Demographics

Street scene in Haiphong

Main article: Demographics of Vietnam

According to official figures from the 1999 census, of Vietnam's then population of 76.3m, the largest of 54 government recognized ethnic groups of Vietnam were:

  1. Viet/Kinh: 65.8m (86.2%)
  2. Tày: 1.5m (1.9%)
  3. Thái: 1.3m (1.7%)
  4. Mường: 1.1m (1.5%)
  5. Khmer Krom: 1.1m (1.4%)
  6. Hoa: 0.9m (1.1%)
  7. Nun: 0.9m (1.1%)
  8. Hmong: 0.8m (1.0%)

The majority ethnic Vietnamese, also called Viet or Kinh, make up about 86 percent of the nation's population. They are concentrated largely in the alluvial deltas and in the coastal plains and have little in common with the minority peoples of the highlands, whom they have historically regarded as hostile and barbaric. A homogenous social group, the Viet exert influence on national life through their control of political and economic affairs and their role as purveyors of the dominant culture. By contrast, the ethnic minorities, except for the Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) and the Hoa (ethnic Han Chinese), are found mostly in the highlands that cover two-thirds of the national territory.

Religion

On the way to the Perfume Pagoda outside Hanoi

According to the 1999 Socialist Republic of Vietnam's census numbers, eighty percent of Vietnamese subscribe to no religion. But according to the majority of other sources, Vietnamese people are predominantly Confucian and Mahayana Buddhist (esp. Mainstream Pure Land schools and Zen-inspired syncretists); with a sizeable Roman Catholic following, Protestant, Cao Đài, and Hoa Hao minorities. The largest Protestant churches are the Evangelical Church of Vietnam and the Montagnard Evangelical Church. Membership to Sunni and Bashi Islam are usually accredited to the ethnic Cham minority, but there are also a few ethnic Vietnamese adherents to Islam in the southwest.

Minorities

The Tay people live primarily in the mountains and foothills of northern Vietnam. Their language is a member of the Tai languages, belonging to the Central Tai subgroup and closely related to the Zhuang language of southern China.

Thái is a name used by Vietnamese authorities for a group of people also from the mountainous northern region of Vietnam and whom western linguists say actually speak separate languages: Tai Dam, Tai Dón, Tai Daeng, Tai Hang Tong, Tày Tac, and Tai Thanh. All these languages are closely related and belong to the Southwestern Tai subgroup of the Tai languages. This official "Thái" ethnicity should not be confused with the Thai people of Thailand. The Thai people of Thailand speak languages belonging to the Lao-Phutai branch of the Southwestern Tai subgroup, while the "Thái" of Vietnam speak languages belonging to the East Central branch of the Southwestern Tai subgroup. Although the Thái ethnicity is officially recognized in Vietnam, western linguistics do not recognize it and prefer to classify Tai Dam, Tai Dón, Tai Daeng, etc., as separate ethnic groups, in which case the Mường minority moves to second largest minority of Vietnam, Khmer Krom move to third position, and Hoa to fourth position.

The Mường live in the mountains of north central Vietnam and speak a Mon-Khmer language closely related to the Vietnamese language.

The Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) live in the fertile delta of the Mekong River in southern Vietnam and are ethnically the same as the Khmer people who make up the majority of the population of Cambodia. There is no consensus on the exact number of Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) living in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government reported 1,055,174 Khmer Krom at the 1999 census.

The Hoa (ethnic Han Chinese) are mainly lowlanders and, more specifically, urban dwellers. They speak predominantly Cantonese (known to the Vietnamese as Quảng Đông), but there are also speakers of Hakka (Khách Gia), Min Nan/Hokkien/Fujian (Mân Nam/Phúc Kiến), Chaozhou (Triều Châu), etc. Up to the 1979 Vietnamese census, the Hoa were the largest minority of Vietnam. However, since the North Vietnamese took over South Vietnam in 1975 many Hoa left Vietnam, especially in the 1980s, so that at the 1999 census the Hoa were only the fifth largest minority (or the fourth largest if the Thái are not considered as an homogenous ethnic group).

Beyond these five largest ethnic minorities, there are 48 other minorities officially recognized by the Vietnamese government, giving a total of 53 minorities altogether. Many of these 53 minority groups only have a few thousand members or so. Vietnam also has a small number of racial Eurasians, people of Asian and Caucasian (mostly white, but also Indian) parentage. Most of them are descendants of Vietnamese people mixed with either early French settlers or white American soldiers and personnel (or both), during the colonial period and Vietnam War. There are also a few of those descended from Indian or Pakistani setttlers also during the colonial era. There are some who are racially mixed with blacks as well, another product during the Vietnam War from American soldiers. Mixed race individuals face the most discrimination in Vietnamese society and government, especially ones who are product of American soldiers (white or black) from the Vietnam War.

Officially, the ethnic minorities are referred to as "national minorities". The French used the name Montagnard (plural Montagnards, meaning "mountain people") to call all the minorities (except the Khmer Krom and the Hoa), no matter what their actual language. The name Montagnard is still sometimes used today. Sometimes, the name Montagnard is used specifically for the Mường ethnic group.

Human Rights NGOs point out the Vietnamese government's poor record with respect to ethnic minorities. In particular, the large Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) minority of southern Vietnam is denied elementary human rights in an effort by the Vietnamese government to Vietnamize the Khmer Krom, or force them to leave their native land and relocate to Cambodia. The Vietnamese government is afraid that the large native Khmer Krom population in the Mekong delta could allow Cambodia to officially claim back the fertile areas of the delta that were annexed by Vietnam more than 200 years ago. On the other hand, some in the Vietnamese government still pursue the centuries old policy of colonizing Khmer land, and it was reported that in the 1980s and 1990s some local Vietnamese officials have pushed the Cambodian-Vietnamese border several kilometers inside Cambodian territory, annexing tens of Cambodian villages, in violation of international treaties, thus further increasing the ethnic Khmer population inside Vietnam.

Further north, there have been reports of tensions with the Tày people due to the government sponsored relocation of ethnic Vietnamese from the lowlands to the highlands inhabited by the Tày and other minorities. Protests and demonstrations by highland minorities have been reported.

Percentage of ethnic Vietnamese

According to the 1999 census, ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) numbered 65,795,718 and thus accounted for 86.2% of the total population of Vietnam.

In terms of land area, the ethnic Vietnamese inhabit a little less than half of Vietnam, while the ethnic minorities inhabit the majority of Vietnam's land (albeit the least fertile parts of the country).

The birth rate of the ethnic Vietnamese (and also the Hoa), which historically has been very high, decreased significantly since the 1980s and is now reaching much lower levels, comparable to the birth rates in Thailand or Malaysia. The birth rate of the minorities is still very high, comparable to birth rates in Cambodia or Laos.

As a result, the ethnic minorities are now growing at a faster rate than the ethnic Vietnamese, which means that the percentage of ethnic Vietnamese in the total population is slowly decreasing year after year. According to official figures, at the 1979 census the ethnic Vietnamese accounted for 87.4% of the total population. The figure was down to 86.9% at the 1989 census, and 86.2% at the 1999 census.

Languages

According to official figures, 86.2% of the population speak Vietnamese as a native tongue.

Various other languages are spoken by the several minority groups in Vietnam. The most spoken languages are: Tày (1.5 million), Mường (1.2 million), Khmer (1.05 million), Cantonese (870,000, this figure also includes speakers of other Chinese dialects), Nung (860,000), HMông (790,000), and Tai Dam (700,000).

French, a legacy of colonial rule, is spoken by some (mostly older) Vietnamese as a second language. Russian- and to a much lesser extent Czech or Polish- is often known among "baby-boomers" whose families had ties with the Soviet bloc. In recent years, English has become a more popular language to learn and is increasingly used in business, among other things.

See also: List of ethnic groups in Vietnam

Culture

Main article: Culture of Vietnam

In its early history, Vietnamese writing used Chinese characters. In the 16th century, the Vietnamese developed their own set of characters called Chữ Nôm. The celebrated epic Đoạn trường tân thanh (or Truyện Kiều) by Nguyễn Du is written in Chữ Nôm. During the French colonial period, Quốc Ngữ, the romanized Vietnamese alphabet representation of spoken Vietnamese, became popular and brought literacy to the masses.

Due to Vietnam's long association with China, Vietnamese culture remains strongly Confucian with its emphasis on familial duty. Education is highly prized. Historically, passing the imperial Mandarin exams was the only means for Vietnamese people to socially advance themselves.

The majority of Vietnamese are adherents to Mahayana Buddhism, influenced by Confucianism and Daoism, and with a strong emphasis on ancestor worship. Others say that the Vietnamese' second religion is superstition and fatalism, brought on by the decades of war.

Vietnam's cuisine and music have three distinct flavors, related to Vietnam's three regions: Bắc or North, Trung or Central, and Nam or South. Northern classical music is Vietnam's oldest and is traditionally more formal. Vietnamese classical music can be traced to the Mongol invasions, when the Vietnamese captured a Chinese opera troupe. Central classical music shows the influences of Champa culture with its melancholic melodies. Southern music exudes a lively laissez faire attitude. Vietnamese cuisine is based on rice, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Its characteristic flavor is sweet (sugar), spicy (serrano peppers), and flavored by a variety of mints.

See also:


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See also:. Wins by Country (Runners-up in brackets). Its characteristic flavor is sweet (sugar), spicy (serrano peppers), and flavored by a variety of mints. Total wins (Runners-up in brackets). Vietnamese cuisine is based on rice, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Final Results. Southern music exudes a lively laissez faire attitude. For more information see Super 12 Champions.

Central classical music shows the influences of Champa culture with its melancholic melodies. The 2005 Super 12 Trophy was taken back by the Crusaders, who defeated the NSW Waratahs 35-25. Vietnamese classical music can be traced to the Mongol invasions, when the Vietnamese captured a Chinese opera troupe. The 2004 Super 12 Trophy was taken by the ACT Brumbies, who defeated the Crusaders 47-38 in the final. Northern classical music is Vietnam's oldest and is traditionally more formal. The South African region that is not participating in the Super 14 is also guaranteed regular competition with the other five South Africa regions. Vietnam's cuisine and music have three distinct flavors, related to Vietnam's three regions: Bắc or North, Trung or Central, and Nam or South. The Spears, as well as the relegated region from 2007, will play in a series against the national teams of Argentina, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Others say that the Vietnamese' second religion is superstition and fatalism, brought on by the decades of war. There will be a similar test match in following years, with the Spears subject to possible relegation starting at the end of the 2008 season. The majority of Vietnamese are adherents to Mahayana Buddhism, influenced by Confucianism and Daoism, and with a strong emphasis on ancestor worship. After the 2007 season, the lowest-finishing South African team in that year's Super 14 table, other than the Spears, will play a promotion/relegation test match against the team that was relegated in 2006. Historically, passing the imperial Mandarin exams was the only means for Vietnamese people to socially advance themselves. The Spears are also guaranteed a place in the 2008 Super 14. Education is highly prized. In 2007, the Southern Spears, based in Port Elizabeth, will replace the lowest-finishing South African team in the 2006 table.

Due to Vietnam's long association with China, Vietnamese culture remains strongly Confucian with its emphasis on familial duty. For more details regarding the areas from which each Super 14 team draws its players, see Super 14 franchise areas. During the French colonial period, Quốc Ngữ, the romanized Vietnamese alphabet representation of spoken Vietnamese, became popular and brought literacy to the masses. In 2006, the competing teams will be:. The celebrated epic Đoạn trường tân thanh (or Truyện Kiều) by Nguyễn Du is written in Chữ Nôm. The fallout from the controversy surrounding the addition of the fifth South African side resulted in the creation of a competitive series involving Argentina, the Pacific Islands and at least one South African side, slated to begin in 2006. In the 16th century, the Vietnamese developed their own set of characters called Chữ Nôm. South Africa will establish a promotion/relegation system to determine the five sides that will compete in the Super 14 each year.

In its early history, Vietnamese writing used Chinese characters. The Spears will replace one of the five existing South Africa sides for 2007 and 2008. Main article: Culture of Vietnam. However, a sixth South African team, the Southern Spears, will be formed in the Southern and Eastern Cape region. See also: List of ethnic groups in Vietnam. Finally, the five teams for 2006 were confirmed to be the country's existing four teams, plus the Central Cheetahs, which will draw its players from the Free State and Northern Cape Provinces. In recent years, English has become a more popular language to learn and is increasingly used in business, among other things. The addition of the new South African team led to considerable controversy, including government involvement.

Russian- and to a much lesser extent Czech or Polish- is often known among "baby-boomers" whose families had ties with the Soviet bloc. It has been confirmed that the new Australian team in the competition will be based in Perth and is to be called the Western Force. French, a legacy of colonial rule, is spoken by some (mostly older) Vietnamese as a second language. However, Argentina and the Pacific Islands remain shut out of the competition proper under this proposal (but see the following paragraphs for more information). The most spoken languages are: Tày (1.5 million), Mường (1.2 million), Khmer (1.05 million), Cantonese (870,000, this figure also includes speakers of other Chinese dialects), Nung (860,000), HMông (790,000), and Tai Dam (700,000). The proposal also included the possibility of splitting the updated Super 14 into two seven-team divisions, but it was decided to keep the competition in its traditional single-table format. Various other languages are spoken by the several minority groups in Vietnam. Under the new deal, Australia and South Africa each got one extra team in the competition, and a third round of fixtures will be added to the Tri Nations Series.

According to official figures, 86.2% of the population speak Vietnamese as a native tongue. SANZAR remains free to negotiate separate deals for other markets, such as France, Japan and the Americas. The figure was down to 86.9% at the 1989 census, and 86.2% at the 1999 census. It covers international fixtures as well as the Super 14. According to official figures, at the 1979 census the ethnic Vietnamese accounted for 87.4% of the total population. [2]. As a result, the ethnic minorities are now growing at a faster rate than the ethnic Vietnamese, which means that the percentage of ethnic Vietnamese in the total population is slowly decreasing year after year. The contract is worth USD 323 million over five years, which is a 16% annual increase compared to the previous deal.

The birth rate of the minorities is still very high, comparable to birth rates in Cambodia or Laos. That December, SANZAR announced that a new TV deal had been signed, with News Corporation winning the rights for the UK, Australia and New Zealand and Supersport winning rights for South Africa. The birth rate of the ethnic Vietnamese (and also the Hoa), which historically has been very high, decreased significantly since the 1980s and is now reaching much lower levels, comparable to the birth rates in Thailand or Malaysia. In September 2004, SANZAR began negotiations for a new television deal to take effect in 2006. In terms of land area, the ethnic Vietnamese inhabit a little less than half of Vietnam, while the ethnic minorities inhabit the majority of Vietnam's land (albeit the least fertile parts of the country). However, until 2006, the competition remained as it began. According to the 1999 census, ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) numbered 65,795,718 and thus accounted for 86.2% of the total population of Vietnam. Argentina was also pushing for inclusion in the Super 12.

Protests and demonstrations by highland minorities have been reported. There was also discussion of including a team from the South Pacific Island nations, such as Fiji; or a combined Pacific Islanders team from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Further north, there have been reports of tensions with the Tày people due to the government sponsored relocation of ethnic Vietnamese from the lowlands to the highlands inhabited by the Tày and other minorities. In recent years (2001 onwards), Australia had pushed unsuccessfully for the inclusion of a fourth Australian team (this has been now confirmed as Western Australia), and South Africa for another team from its country (two extra teams were added, for a total of six, but only five will compete in any given year). On the other hand, some in the Vietnamese government still pursue the centuries old policy of colonizing Khmer land, and it was reported that in the 1980s and 1990s some local Vietnamese officials have pushed the Cambodian-Vietnamese border several kilometers inside Cambodian territory, annexing tens of Cambodian villages, in violation of international treaties, thus further increasing the ethnic Khmer population inside Vietnam. Therefore by setting up the Super 12, the Unions had a product that was in demand from viewers, enabling them to sell a 10 year contract for exclusive television rights to News Corp for USD 555 million [1], giving them both coverage and financial support. The Vietnamese government is afraid that the large native Khmer Krom population in the Mekong delta could allow Cambodia to officially claim back the fertile areas of the delta that were annexed by Vietnam more than 200 years ago. Another reason is that with the establishment of the Super League, the Rugby Unions were concerned that they would lose players, who were switching codes to follow the high salaries.

In particular, the large Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) minority of southern Vietnam is denied elementary human rights in an effort by the Vietnamese government to Vietnamize the Khmer Krom, or force them to leave their native land and relocate to Cambodia. A key part of the business model for the Foxtel pay TV network in Australia was to attract subscribers by offering an exclusive product (such as rugby union) which could not be seen on free-to-air broadcast television. Human Rights NGOs point out the Vietnamese government's poor record with respect to ethnic minorities. One significant reason for the development of the Super 12 competition was the introduction, in Australia especially but also in other nations, of pay (or subscription) television. Sometimes, the name Montagnard is used specifically for the Mường ethnic group. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa formed SANZAR (South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) to administer an annual 12-team provincial competition and Tri-Nations Test Series between the three countries. The name Montagnard is still sometimes used today. It was born out of the success of 1995 Rugby Union World Cup, pitting regional teams of the then three strongest rugby nations against each other.

The French used the name Montagnard (plural Montagnards, meaning "mountain people") to call all the minorities (except the Khmer Krom and the Hoa), no matter what their actual language. The first Super 12 series was held in 1996, although it has its origins in the Super 10, Super 6 and South Pacific championships. Officially, the ethnic minorities are referred to as "national minorities". The Australian teams also play each other for the National Ricoh Championship (or State of the Union), the winner of which is awarded the Bob Templeton trophy. Mixed race individuals face the most discrimination in Vietnamese society and government, especially ones who are product of American soldiers (white or black) from the Vietnam War. The two winners then play the final at the home ground of the top surviving seed. There are some who are racially mixed with blacks as well, another product during the Vietnam War from American soldiers. The top four teams at the end of the round-robin phase then play semifinals, with the first placed team hosting the fourth placed team and the second placed team hosting the third placed team.

There are also a few of those descended from Indian or Pakistani setttlers also during the colonial era. A bonus point is also earned by a team that loses a game by seven points (a converted try) or less. Most of them are descendants of Vietnamese people mixed with either early French settlers or white American soldiers and personnel (or both), during the colonial period and Vietnam War. Teams also receive a bonus point for scoring four tries, regardless of the final result. Vietnam also has a small number of racial Eurasians, people of Asian and Caucasian (mostly white, but also Indian) parentage. A team receives four points for a win, two for a draw, and none for a loss. Many of these 53 minority groups only have a few thousand members or so. Games are held over 14 weekends with each team receiving one bye.

Beyond these five largest ethnic minorities, there are 48 other minorities officially recognized by the Vietnamese government, giving a total of 53 minorities altogether. There are 91 regular season games in total. However, since the North Vietnamese took over South Vietnam in 1975 many Hoa left Vietnam, especially in the 1980s, so that at the 1999 census the Hoa were only the fifth largest minority (or the fourth largest if the Thái are not considered as an homogenous ethnic group). The Super 14 is a round-robin competition with each team playing every other team once, with six or seven home games and six or seven away games. Up to the 1979 Vietnamese census, the Hoa were the largest minority of Vietnam. The naming rights for the competition are different in the three countries:. They speak predominantly Cantonese (known to the Vietnamese as Quảng Đông), but there are also speakers of Hakka (Khách Gia), Min Nan/Hokkien/Fujian (Mân Nam/Phúc Kiến), Chaozhou (Triều Châu), etc. .

The Hoa (ethnic Han Chinese) are mainly lowlanders and, more specifically, urban dwellers. From 1996 through 2005, the competition was known as Super 12; the name change came about after two teams were added for the 2006 season. The Vietnamese government reported 1,055,174 Khmer Krom at the 1999 census. The Super 14 is a rugby union championship competed for by teams from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. There is no consensus on the exact number of Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) living in Vietnam. Penalties: 43 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders, 1999. The Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) live in the fertile delta of the Mekong River in southern Vietnam and are ethnically the same as the Khmer people who make up the majority of the population of Cambodia. Conversions: 39 – Stirling Mortlock, Brumbies, 2000.

The Mường live in the mountains of north central Vietnam and speak a Mon-Khmer language closely related to the Vietnamese language. Tries: 14 – Joe Roff, Brumbies, 1997, Rico Gear, Crusaders, 2005. Although the Thái ethnicity is officially recognized in Vietnam, western linguistics do not recognize it and prefer to classify Tai Dam, Tai Dón, Tai Daeng, etc., as separate ethnic groups, in which case the Mường minority moves to second largest minority of Vietnam, Khmer Krom move to third position, and Hoa to fourth position. Points: 206 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders, 1998. The Thai people of Thailand speak languages belonging to the Lao-Phutai branch of the Southwestern Tai subgroup, while the "Thái" of Vietnam speak languages belonging to the East Central branch of the Southwestern Tai subgroup. Penalties: 195 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders. This official "Thái" ethnicity should not be confused with the Thai people of Thailand. Conversions: 148 – Matt Burke, Waratahs.

All these languages are closely related and belong to the Southwestern Tai subgroup of the Tai languages. Tries: 57 – Joe Roff, Brumbies. Thái is a name used by Vietnamese authorities for a group of people also from the mountainous northern region of Vietnam and whom western linguists say actually speak separate languages: Tai Dam, Tai Dón, Tai Daeng, Tai Hang Tong, Tày Tac, and Tai Thanh. Points: 926 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders. Their language is a member of the Tai languages, belonging to the Central Tai subgroup and closely related to the Zhuang language of southern China. First Super 12 penalty: Cameron, Wellington v Auckland, Palmerston North, 1996. The Tay people live primarily in the mountains and foothills of northern Vietnam. First Super 12 conversion: Cameron, Wellington v Auckland, Palmerston North, 1996.

Membership to Sunni and Bashi Islam are usually accredited to the ethnic Cham minority, but there are also a few ethnic Vietnamese adherents to Islam in the southwest. First Super 12 try: Alama Ieremia, Auckland v Wellington, Palmerston North, 1996. The largest Protestant churches are the Evangelical Church of Vietnam and the Montagnard Evangelical Church. Fewest wins in a season: 0 – Bulls, 2002 regular season. Mainstream Pure Land schools and Zen-inspired syncretists); with a sizeable Roman Catholic following, Protestant, Cao Đài, and Hoa Hao minorities. Most wins in a season: 11 – Crusaders, 2002 regular season. But according to the majority of other sources, Vietnamese people are predominantly Confucian and Mahayana Buddhist (esp. Fewest tries in a season: 15 – Auckland, 1999, 2000.

According to the 1999 Socialist Republic of Vietnam's census numbers, eighty percent of Vietnamese subscribe to no religion. Most tries in a season: 56 – Auckland, 1996/7, 1998. By contrast, the ethnic minorities, except for the Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) and the Hoa (ethnic Han Chinese), are found mostly in the highlands that cover two-thirds of the national territory. Most tries in a match: 14 – Crusaders v Waratahs, 2002. A homogenous social group, the Viet exert influence on national life through their control of political and economic affairs and their role as purveyors of the dominant culture. Most consecutive losses: 11 – Bulls, 2002. They are concentrated largely in the alluvial deltas and in the coastal plains and have little in common with the minority peoples of the highlands, whom they have historically regarded as hostile and barbaric. Most consecutive wins: 15 – Crusaders, 2002/03.

The majority ethnic Vietnamese, also called Viet or Kinh, make up about 86 percent of the nation's population. Highest score away: 60 – Blues v Hurricanes (7), 2002. According to official figures from the 1999 census, of Vietnam's then population of 76.3m, the largest of 54 government recognized ethnic groups of Vietnam were:. Highest winning margin: 77 – Crusaders v Waratahs (96-19), 2002. Main article: Demographics of Vietnam. Lowest score: 0 – Bulls v Brumbies (15), 1999; Cats v Brumbies (64), 2000. Many of the over 3 million annual visitors are Vietnam war veterans. Highest score: 96 – Crusaders v Waratahs (19), 2002.

Tourism has become an increasingly important industry in Vietnam. South Africa 0 (2). Corruption, bribery and embezzlement committed by many government officials have pushed property prices even higher, as real estate investment is a popular form of money laundering. Australia 2 (4). The booming prices have given the poor land owners the opportunity to sell their homes for inflated prices. New Zealand 8 (4). This has amazed many people because GDP per capita of this city is around US$1,000 per annum. Waratahs 0 (1).

In Hanoi, the capital, property prices can be as high as those in Tokyo or New York City. Highlanders 0 (1). The reason lies in the high property prices. Sharks 0 (2). The spending power of the public has noticeably increased. ACT Brumbies 2 (3). This figure has been scaled down by the Government to 9.5% per annum to avoid the ‘double digit’ classification. Blues 3 (1).

Inflation rate is estimated at 14% per year in 2004. Crusaders 5 (2). This translates to US$2700 per capita. 2005 Crusaders 35-25 Waratahs. Vietnam, however, is still a relatively poor country with GDP of US$227.2 billion (est., 2004). 2004 ACT Brumbies 47-38 Crusaders. The country is attempting to become a member of the WTO. 2003 Blues 21-17 Crusaders.

Layoffs in the state sector and foreign-invested enterprises combined with the lasting effects of a previous military demobilization further exacerbated the unemployment situation. 2002 Crusaders 31-13 ACT Brumbies. On the other hand, urban unemployment has been rising steadily in recent years due to high numbers of migration from the countryside to the cities, and rural unemployment, estimated to be up to 35% during nonharvest periods, is already at critical levels. 2001 ACT Brumbies 36-6 Sharks. Simultaneously, investment grew three-fold and domestic savings quintupled. 2000 Crusaders 20-19 ACT Brumbies. On the one hand, Vietnam achieved around 8% annual GDP growth from 1990 to 1997 and continued at around 7% from 2000 to 2002, making it the world's second-fastest growing economy. 1999 Crusaders 24-19 Highlanders.

In many ways, this followed the Chinese model and achieved similar results. 1998 Crusaders 20-13 Blues. In 1986, the Sixth Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam formally abandoned Marxist economic planning and began introducing market elements as part of a broad economic reform package called "đổi mới" ("Renovation"). 1997 Blues 23-7 ACT Brumbies. Main article: Economy of Vietnam. 1996 Blues 45-21 Sharks. Land boundaries: Total: 4,639 km (2,883 mi) Border countries: Cambodia 1,228 km (763 mi), China 1,281 km (796 mi), Laos 2,130 m (1,324 mi). Stormers - Cape Town (plus northern Western Cape).

Annual rainfall ranges from 120 to 300 centimetres (47 to 118 inches), and annual temperatures vary between 5°C (41°F) and 37°C (99°F). Sharks - Durban (KwaZulu-Natal). The climate is tropical and monsoonal; humidity averages 84 percent throughout the year. Central Cheetahs - Bloemfontein (Free State Province plus Northern Cape). The south is divided into coastal lowlands, Dai Truong Son (central mountains) with high plateaus, and the Mekong River Delta. Cats - Johannesburg (plus Mpumalanga and North West). Phan Xi Păng, located in Lào Cai province, is the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143 metres (10,312 ft). Bulls - Pretoria (plus East Rand and Limpopo Province).

The northern part of the country consists of highlands and the Red River Delta. South Africa

    . Mountains account for 40 percent, hills 40 percent, and forests 75 percent. Hurricanes - southern North Island, including Wellington. The topography consists of hills and densely forested mountains, with level land covering no more than 20 percent. Highlanders - southern South Island, including Dunedin. The country is approximately 331,688 square kilometers (128,066 mi²) in area, which is slightly larger than New Mexico and slightly smaller than Germany. Crusaders - north and central South Island, including Christchurch.

    Main article: Geography of Vietnam. Chiefs - central North Island, plus South Auckland. Besides the five cities, the country is divided into fifty-nine provinces (tỉnh, singular and plural): An Giang, Bắc Giang, Bắc Cạn, Bạc Liêu, Bắc Ninh, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Bến Tre, Bình Định, Bình Dương, Bình Phước, Bình Thuận, Cà Mau, Cao Bằng, Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Điện Biên, Đồng Nai, Đồng Tháp, Gia Lai, Hà Giang, Hải Dương, Hà Nam, Hà Tây, Hà Tĩnh, Hòa Bình, Hậu Giang, Hưng Yên, Khánh Hòa, Kiên Giang, Kon Tum, Lai Châu, Lâm Đồng, Lạng Sơn, Lào Cai, Long An, Nam Định, Nghệ An, Ninh Bình, Ninh Thuận, Phú Thọ, Phú Yên, Quảng Bình, Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Quảng Ninh, Quảng Trị, Sóc Trăng, Sơn La, Tây Ninh, Thái Bình, Thái Nguyên, Thanh Hóa, Thừa Thiên-Huế, Tiền Giang, Trà Vinh, Tuyên Quang, Vĩnh Long, Vĩnh Phúc, Yên Bái. Blues - Northland Peninsula and most of metropolitan Auckland. Now, Saigon is understood as heart of the city (central area of the District 1). New Zealand

      . Ho Chi Minh City was formerly known as Sài Gòn (Sài Gòn). Western Force, the new Perth Team for Super 14.

      There are also four municipalities (thành phố trực thuộc Trung ương, singular and plural) existing at provincial level: Cần Thơ, Đà Nẵng, Hải Phòng, and Hồ Chí Minh City (Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh). Queensland Reds. Vietnam's capital (thủ đô, singular and plural) is Hà Nội (Hà Nội). New South Wales Waratahs. Main article: Provinces of Vietnam. Brumbies - Australian Capital Territory (plus southern New South Wales). Vietnam is a member of the United Nations, La Francophonie, ASEAN, and APEC, and applied for membership to the World Trade Organization in 2001. Australia

        .

        Former political parties include the nationalist Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng of Nguyễn Thái Học, the Can Lao party of the Ngô Đình Diệm government and the Viet Nam Duy Tan Hoi of Phan Bội Châu during the colonial period. In South Africa, telecommunications company Vodacom has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Vodacom Super 14. The Government of Free Vietnam has claimed responsibility for a number of guerilla raids into Vietnam, which the Vietnamese government has denounced as terrorism. In Australia, the Tooheys brewery has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Tooheys New Super 14, named after its Tooheys New brand. The most prominent are the Vietnamese Constitutional Monarchist League, and the Government of Free Vietnam. Previously Ubix and then Telecom New Zealand (TNZ). These communities have supported demonstrations and civil disobedience against the government. In New Zealand, sporting goods retailer Rebel Sport has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Rebel Sport Super 14.

        There are no legal opposition parties in Vietnam, although a number of opposition groups do exist scattered overseas among exile communities within countries such as France and the United States. Senior Politburo members (Trần Đức Lương, Phan Văn Khải, Nguyễn Văn An, Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, Lê Hồng Anh, Phạm Văn Trà and Trương Quang Được) concurrently hold high positions in the Government and the National Assembly. From 2001 until now, Nong Duc Manh has been General Secretary of CPV. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam exists today as a communist state.

        The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is governed through a highly centralized system dominated by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) (Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam), which was formerly the Vietnamese Labor Party (1951-1976). Main article: Politics of Vietnam. It reestablished diplomatic relations with the United States in 1995, one year after the United States' trade embargo on Vietnam was repealed. During much of the 1990s, economic growth was rapid, and Vietnam reintegrated into the international community.

        In 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam implemented economic reforms known as đổi mới (renovation). Only one month later, however, partially in retaliation, China launched a short-lived incursion into Vietnam: the Sino-Vietnamese War. In late 1978, the Cambodian people, with the support of the Vietnamese army, removed the Khmer Rouge from power. Millions of South Vietnamese became boat people over the next two decades.

        After reunification, political and economic conditions deteriorated to near-famine conditions. By April 30, 1975, North Vietnam had overtaken South Vietnam and by 1976, Vietnam was officially unified under the North Vietnamese government as The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. All American troops were withdrawn by March 29, 1973. The war continued even after the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973, which formally recognized the sovereignty of both sides.

        The conflict quickly escalated into the Vietnam War. During the Cold War, the North was supported by China and the Soviet Union while the South was supported by United States. The Geneva Accords subsequently divided the country into North Vietnam and South Vietnam, separated by a demilitarized zone. When the war ended, France attempted to re-establish control but failed, after they were defeated at Dien Bien Phu.

        French rule continued until World War II, when Japan briefly occupied Vietnam and used the country as a base to launch attacks against the rest of Indochina and India. The independent period ended in the mid-19th century, when the country was colonized by France. They eventually conquered the kingdom of Champa and much of the Khmer empire. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, the Vietnamese expanded southward in a process known as nam tiến (southward expansion).

        Feudalism in Vietnam reached its zenith in the Le Dynasty 1400s, especially with the emperor Le Thanh Tong. However, during the rule of the Tran Dynasty, it defeated three Mongol attempts of invasion by the Yuan Dynasty. For most of its history, Vietnam has been strongly influenced by its much bigger northern neighbor, China. They gained complete autonomy a century later.

        In 939, the Vietnamese defeated Chinese forces at the Bach Dang River and gained independence. Sporadic independence movements were attempted, but were quickly extinguished by the Chinese army. What is known for sure is that for most of the period from 207 BC to the early 10th century, it was under the rule of successive dynasties of China. Whether this is indeed historically true or not is still subject to debate.

        This Chinese general adopted the native language (which sounded similar to southern Chinese dialects anyway) and married local women, who gave birth to sons that inherited the kingdom. He and his soldiers conquered the land and established a civilized society modeled after ancient Chinese customs. Some historians, both in Asia and in the West, hold that the various peoples of today's Vietnam were brought together by a Qin Dynasty-era general who was fed up with the despotic rule of the Qin Shi Huang (First emperor of China proper) and escaped to the "southern Yue [Viet] mountains" to set up his own kingdom. Chinese historical records tell of an indigenous people that existed about 2,500 years ago.

        Vietnamese legends hold that native people populated and civilized the land more than 4,000 years ago. Its cognate name in Chinese, Yuè Nán (越南; Yut6 Naam4 in Cantonese) means "southern extension". The name of the country comes from the Vietnamese Việt Nam, which is in turn a reordering of Nam Việt, the name of an ancient kingdom from the ancestral Vietnamese that covered much of today's northern Vietnam. .

        Situated in eastern Indochina, it borders China, Laos, Cambodia, as well as the South China Sea. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, or Vietnam, is a communist country in Southeast Asia. (Vietnamese, "Independence, liberty, happiness"). Music of Vietnam.

        Cuisine of Vietnam. Hmong: 0.8m (1.0%). Nun: 0.9m (1.1%). Hoa: 0.9m (1.1%).

        Khmer Krom: 1.1m (1.4%). Mường: 1.1m (1.5%). Thái: 1.3m (1.7%). Tày: 1.5m (1.9%).

        Viet/Kinh: 65.8m (86.2%).

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