The rapid economic development has resulted in a marked reduction in poverty. Measured by the country’s own criteria, the proportion of poor people fell from 40-50 per cent in the early 1980s to just over 12 percent in 2009. At the same time, the differences have increased between city and countryside, between different professions and different ethnic groups. In general, rural incomes are lower than in urban areas. They are highest in Ho Chi Minh City, lowest in minority areas in remote mountainous regions. There, people are most affected by inflation, which means rising prices for food and fuels.
In terms of the labor market, education and health care, there are no significant differences between women and men. The retirement age is 60 years for men and 55 years for women. Since 2009, there is unemployment insurance. Trade unions exist and smaller strikes are not uncommon. Unemployment rose sharply as exports to rich industrial countries shrank during the global economic crisis in the latter part of the 1990s. It has also risen in connection with the closure of unprofitable government companies. In 2010, the share of unemployed was about 10 percent.
Until 1986, schooling and healthcare were free in Vietnam. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of VNM and acronym for Vietnam. The transition from planning economy to market economy has meant that such service is charged with fees. New social insurance was implemented during the latter part of the 1990s. It includes pension and survivor support, maternity allowance and compensation for work injuries, as well as health insurance and sick pay. It is compulsory for government employees and is financed by employer and self-employment contributions. For private employees, self-employed persons, household members without work and younger pensioners, it is optional to take out insurance. For pensioners over the age of 90, veterans and dioxin injured from the war, the state pays pensions and medical care. The poorest as well as children under the age of six have a free pass to health care.
For decades, access to health care and education has been better in Vietnam than in almost all other countries at similar levels of development. In 2002, there were six doctors per 10,000 residents and in 2005 there were 26 beds per 10,000 residents. The proportion of people aged 15-49 with HIV/AIDS was 0.5 percent in 2008. The low mortality rate in the country is likely to a large extent due to the fact that about 95 percent of the population has access to clean water and 75 percent to sanitation facilities (drains, toilets). However, rapid urbanization, industrial expansion and chemicalization of agriculture can lead to deterioration of the water, and in the cities the congestion presents major environmental problems.
Millennium of China, century of France in the shadow
The original home of the Vietnamese is found in southern China. From there, they moved to the Red River estuary shortly before the beginning of our era and founded the Kingdom of Nam Viet, which was soon conquered by the Chinese for a thousand years. China’s major religions and language spread to North Vietnam, rice was learned to be cultivated in terraced fields, mixed marriages between Chinese and Vietnamese were entered into, but there was also constant fighting to get rid of the occupier.
At the same time, the Hindu-Buddhist Kingdoms of Funan, Chenla, and the Chami state of Champa flourished in South Vietnam, which remained independent until the 15th century. The northern and central parts of the country gradually became saturated with a thousand-year-old Chinese bedding. The rebel movement liberated the territories under its rule as the independent state of Dai Viet in 939. From the capital, Hue, Dai Viet flourished until the arrival of French colonial hosts. The state was able to counter the influx of the Mongols and conquer the weakened Champa in the south. However, intergenerational disputes kept Vietnam fragmented until the early 19th century, when a strong general, Gia Long, ascendant to the Vietnamese throne.
French missionaries and merchants had entered the country as early as the 17th century. Vietnam’s first commercial port was Hoi An. The preachers changed to soldiers when a determined colonial predation by France began. In the south, Kochinki came to France in 1867, the protectorates of Annam and Tonkin 15 years later. Together with Cambodia and Laos, the regions formed French Indochina. Vietnamese leaders had to submit to humiliating cooperation with the conqueror, migrants from the mainland owned arable land, and the citizens became subject to heavy taxes. Vietnamese resistance to the French continued throughout the occupation and was particularly strong during World War I. In World War II, Japan easily invaded the country after when Hitler’s troops had occupied mainland France in Europe. Although formally the French machinery of the government of the Japanese ally, Vichy, continued to operate in Vietnam, the country was in fact under Japanese command and their rice fence.