The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, in Southeast Asia, is on the eastern edge of the Indo-Chinese Peninsula. Vietnam is bordered by China, Laos, and Cambodia. It is the sixteenth most populous country in the world, with 102.8 million people. About 38 percent of the population lives in urban areas, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, and Hanoi, the capital. Major ethnic groups include Kinh (Viet), with smaller groups being Tay, Thai, Muong, Khmer, Mong, Nung, and Hoa. About 80 percent of the population does not identify with any particular religion, but small portions do identify as Buddhist, Catholic, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, and Protestant. English and Vietnamese are the most commonly spoken languages. Vietnam is known for intriguing geographical features; at its narrowest point, the country is only 50 kilometers wide. It is also home to the world’s largest cave.
North and South Vietnam unified after the Vietnam War in 1975, and the country has since grown substantially, with one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Tourism, manufacturing, and exports have led to increasing per capita GDP. Poverty rates have decreased from over 70 percent to around 6 percent since political and economic reforms were launched in 1986. Improvements have been made across many sectors, including education and health. Literacy rates are high due to the strong network of public schools, while life expectancy has also steadily increased. However, corruption runs rampant and continues to be a persistent issue.
Alongside progress in poverty reduction, Vietnam has made tremendous gains in addressing major health issues. Rates of malaria have decreased substantially, and illness due to poor sanitation has also decreased as more people gain access to clean water. In addition, tuberculosis remains a persistent health concern and a leading cause of death. Other leading causes of death include stroke, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, COPD, lung cancer, road injuries, cirrhosis, chronic kidney disease, lower respiratory infections, Alzheimer’s disease, and hypertensive heart disease. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose, dietary risks, air pollution, alcohol and tobacco use, high body-mass index, kidney dysfunction, occupational risks, high LDL, and malnutrition.
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