Vietnam – 2014

Archaeological excavations indicate that Vietnam was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic age. The ancient Vietnamese nation was annexed by China in the 2nd century BC, which subsequently made Vietnam a division of China for over a millennium. The first independent monarchy emerged in the 10th century AD. This paved the way for successive imperial dynasties as the nation expanded geographically southward until the Indochinese Peninsula saw French colonisation in the mid-19th century. Modern Vietnam was born upon the Proclamation of Independence from France in 1945. Following Vietnamese victory against the French in the First Indochina War, which ended in 1954, the nation was divided into two rival states: communist North and anti-communist South. Conflicts intensified in the Vietnam War, which saw extensive US intervention in support of South Vietnam and ended with North Vietnamese victory in 1975. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

Da Nang is a class-1 municipality and the fifth-largest city in Vietnam by population. It is on the coast of the East Sea at the mouth of the Han River, and one of Vietnam’s most important port cities. As one of the country’s five direct-controlled municipalities, it is under the administration of the central government. Da Nang is the commercial and educational centre of Central Vietnam, and is the largest city in the region. It has a well-sheltered, easily accessible port, and its location on National Route 1A and the North–South Railway makes it a transport hub. It is within 100 km (62 mi) of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Imperial City of Hue, the Old Town of Hoi An, and the My Son ruins. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

The city was known as Cửa Hàn during early Đại Việt settlement, and as Tourane (or Turon) during French colonial rule. Before 1997, the city was part of Quang Nam-Da Nang Province. On 1 January 1997, Da Nang was separated from Quảng Nam Province to become one of four centrally controlled municipalities in Vietnam. Da Nang is designated as a first class city, and has a higher urbanization ratio than any of Vietnam’s other provinces or centrally governed cities. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

The number of people who live in urbanised areas in 2017 is estimated to be around 32.753 million people (with the urbanisation rate at 35.7%). Since 1986, Vietnam’s urbanisation rates have surged rapidly after the Vietnamese government implemented the Đổi Mới economic program, changing the system into a socialist one and liberalising property rights. As a result, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (the two major cities in the Red River Delta and Southeast regions respectively) increased their share of the total urban population from 8.5% and 24.9% to 15.9% and 31% respectively. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

The Vietnamese government, through its construction ministry, forecasts the country will have a 45% urbanisation rate by 2020. Urbanisation is said to have a positive correlation with economic growth. Any country with higher urbanisation rates has a higher GDP growth rate. Furthermore, the urbanisation movement in Vietnam is mainly between the rural areas and the country’s Southeast region. Ho Chi Minh City has received a large number of migrants due mainly to better weather and economic opportunities. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

Urbanisation also helps to improve basic services which increase people’s standards of living. Access to electricity grew from 14% of total households with electricity in 1993 to above 96% in 2009. In terms of access to fresh water, data from 65 utility companies shows that only 12% of households in the area covered by them had access to the water network in 2002; by 2007, more than 70% of the population was connected. Though urbanisation has many benefits, it has some drawbacks since it creates more traffic, and air and water pollution. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

A study also shows that rural-to-urban area migrants have a higher standard of living than both non-migrants in rural areas and non-migrants in urban areas. This results in changes to economic structures. In 1985, agriculture made up 37.2% of Vietnam’s GDP; in 2008, that number had declined to 18.5%. In 1985, industry made up only 26.2% of Vietnam’s GDP; by 2008, that number had increased to 43.2%. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

After North and South Vietnam were reunified under a unitary socialist government in 1976, the country became economically and politically isolated until 1986, when the Communist Party initiated a series of economic and political reforms that facilitated Vietnamese integration into world politics and the global economy. As a result of the successful reforms, Vietnam has enjoyed a high GDP growth rate, consistently ranked among the fastest-growing countries in the world. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

It nevertheless faces challenges including poverty, corruption and inadequate social welfare. By 2010, Vietnam had established diplomatic relations with 178 countries. It is a member of such international organisations as the United Nations (UN), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

Many Vietnamese use mopeds for transportation since they are relatively cheap and easy to operate. Their large numbers have been known to cause traffic congestion and air pollution in Vietnam. In the capital city alone, the number of mopeds increased from 0.5 million in 2001 to 4.7 million in 2013. With rapid development, factories have sprung up which indirectly pollute the air and water. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

An example is the 2016 Vietnam marine life disaster caused by the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Company illegally discharging toxic industrial waste into the ocean. This killed many fish and destroyed marine habitats in Vietnamese waters resulting in major losses to the country’s economy. The government is intervening and attempting solutions to decrease air pollution by decreasing the number of motorcycles while increasing public transportation. It has introduced more regulations for waste handling by factories. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

Although the authorities also have schedules for collecting different types of waste, waste disposal is another problem caused by urbanisation. The amount of solid waste generated in urban areas of Vietnam has increased by more than 200% from 2003 to 2008. Industrial solid waste accounted for 181% of that increase. One of the government’s efforts includes attempting to promote campaigns that encourage locals to sort household waste since waste sorting is still not practised by most of Vietnamese society. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

City of Ghosts

My trip to Vietnam was not as great experience for me as my trip to Cambodia. I am not quite sure whether it is the culture or the country that plays a part in my experience. But one thing is certain; Vietnam has its own cultural history – like all other nations. Probably is the “Vietnam War” that stands out when we are thinking about the history of Vietnam. Like in Cambodia, the people in Vietnam lives on what the river MeKong provides them, and there are a lot of rice fields that depends on this river. Personally, when I traveled around Vietnam I felt that I was more in a Western world than in Asia. Maybe it’s because the war seems to have left some Western culture behind when it was over.

I found the so-called Ghost town (the locals call it the “City of Ghosts”)* very interesting place in Vietnam. Where Vietnamese, who are living abroad, build a magnificent tomb, and the ambition seems to be to build larger and cooler tomb than the neighbor’s. Beside that, there was not much that surprised me on trip to Vietnam. But I experienced a lot of different things and different places. In whole; my experience of Vietnam was good and sometimes very interesting. But for me; Vietnam is not Cambodia, and probably does that play a role in my experience.

© GHs 2020