Vietnam (Vietnamese: Việt Nam, [vîət nāːm] (listen)), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is a country in Southeast Asia. Located at the eastern edge of mainland Southeast Asia, it covers 311,699 square kilometres (120,348 sq mi). With a population of over 96 million, it is the world's fifteenth-most populous country. Vietnam borders China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, and shares maritime borders with Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand, and the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia through the South China Sea. Its capital is Hanoi and its largest city is Ho Chi Minh City.Vietnam was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic age. The first known states during the first millennium BC centered on the Red River Delta, located in modern-day northern Vietnam. The Han dynasty annexed and put Northern and Central Vietnam under Chinese rule from 111 BC, until the first dynasty emerged in 939. Successive monarchical dynasties absorbed Chinese influences through Confucianism and Buddhism, and expanded southward to the Mekong Delta, conquering Champa. The Nguyễn—the last imperial dynasty—fell to French colonisation in 1887. Following the August Revolution, the nationalist Viet Minh under the leadership of communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh proclaimed independence from France in 1945.
Vietnam went through prolonged warfare through the 20th century. After World War II, France returned to reclaim colonial power in the First Indochina War, from which Vietnam emerged victorious in 1954. The Vietnam War began shortly after, during which the nation was divided into communist North supported by the Soviet Union and China, and anti-communist South supported by the United States. Upon the North Vietnamese victory in 1975, Vietnam reunified as a unitary socialist state under the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) in 1976. An ineffective planned economy, a trade embargo by the West, and wars with Cambodia and China crippled the country further. A unitary one-party socialist republic, in 1986, the CPV decided to initiate economic and political reforms similar to the Chinese economic reform a few years prior, transforming the country to a market-oriented economy. The reforms facilitated Vietnamese reintegration into global economy and politics.
A developing country with a lower-middle-income economy, Vietnam after a turbulent 20th century is nevertheless one of the fastest growing economies of the 21st century, and its total GDP is predicted to possibly rival those of several developed nations by 2050 under current trajectories. Contemporary issues in Vietnam include high levels of corruption, censorship and a poor human rights record; the country ranks among the lowest in international measurements of civil liberties, freedom of the press and freedom of religion and ethnic minorities. It is part of international and intergovernmental institutions including the United Nations (UN), ASEAN, the APEC, the CPTPP, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OIF, and the WTO. It has assumed a seat on the United Nations Security Council twice.
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