The official name of Vietnam is the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Two rivers in Vietnam, the Mekong in the south and the Red river in the north of the country reach the sea spread over huge swampy delta plains. The lands in these areas are very fertile, ideal for growing rice and other crops and home to the majority of the country's population.
Vietnam shares a land border with China to the north, Cambodia and Laos to the west.
There are over 92 million people living in Vietnam (92,477,857) as of July 2013.
The capital city of Vietnam is Hanoi, with an estimated population of just under 6.5 million it is the second largest city in Vietnam. The largest city is Ho Chi Minh City which had a population of just under 7.5 million in 2010.
France gained control of Vietnam in 1890, with Japan briefly taking the nation during World War II. In 1945, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Vietnamese Communist Party, declared Vietnam an independent country. After fighting between the French and communist Vietnam ended in 1954 the communist North and non-communist South were separated.
1957 to 1975 saw war between North and South Vietnam. Countries including the United States, Russia, and China, became involved. The country was reunified under a communist regime. The 1990's saw economic progress as a free-market system and trade with the West began again.
The currency of Vietnam is called the dong.
Traditional culture of Vietnam involves focusing on humanity (nhân nghia) and harmony (hòa), with family and the community valued highly.
The Vietnamese worship a number of cultural symbols, such as the Vietnamese dragon (mythical holy dragon), the lac (mythical holy bird), the turtle and the horse.
Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashew nuts and black pepper in the world with one-third of the global production. The country is also the second largest exporter of rice behind Thailand.
Vietnam has a high level of biodiversity, it is home to approximately 16% of the world's species.
The cuisine of Vietnam traditionally combines 5 fundamental taste elements including: spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (earth).
Vietnamese food is a blend of Chinese and Thai styles and is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world with its combination of fresh ingredients like fresh herbs, seafoods, fruits and vegetables along with fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce and rice.
Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Vietnam, other sports of interest include table tennis, volleyball, badminton, tennis, and martial arts.
For more information, check out maps of Vietnam or take a closer look at the Vietnamese flag.