Meaning of VIETNAM, FLAG OF in English

VIETNAM, FLAG OF

national flag consisting of a red field (background) with a large yellow star in the centre. The width-to-length ratio of the flag is 2 to 3. Vietnam has long utilized ceremonies and symbols that originated in China, its northern neighbour. In recent centuries the emperors of Vietnam had banners of yellow when that was the imperial colour of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty in China. Red, a symbol of the south, was also often featured in Vietnamese flags. Vietnam was under French colonial government from the 19th century, but, following World War II, the Communist Party of Vietnam proclaimed its rule, and on September 29, 1945, it adopted a red flag with a central yellow star. The French opposed independence, however, and a long war enveloped the nation. Under French (and, later, American) sponsorship, the Republic of Vietnam controlled the southern part of the country under a flag of yellow with three red horizontal stripes. With the defeat of American and South Vietnamese forces in 1975, communists ruled the entire country. Their 1945 flag flew in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north; in the south the Republic of Vietnam (led militarily by the Viet Cong) had a similar flag. The Viet Cong banner had equal horizontal stripes of red over light blue with a central five-pointed star. The government and flag of the south disappeared on July 2, 1976, when the two halves of the country united, and today the red flag with a yellow star is used throughout Vietnam. The five points of the star are said to stand for the five principal classes composing the political frontthe proletariat, peasantry, military, intellectuals, and petty bourgeoisie. Whitney Smith The economy Vietnam's greatest economic resource is its literate and energetic population. Its long coastline provides excellent harbours, access to marine resources, and many attractive beaches and areas of scenic beauty that are well suited to the development of tourism; a lack of infrastructure, however, has inhibited full utilization of these assets. The actual potential for economic growth based on Vietnam's wealth of natural resources, however, is being rendered increasingly problematic by population growth, environmental degradation, and rising domestic demand, and the country remains one of the poorest in the world. During the period of 195475, when the country was divided, there were three layers to the Vietnamese economy: a bottom layer based on the cultivation of rice, a middle layer dominated by mining in the north and rubber plantations in the south, and a third layer that was a wartime creation marked by large-scale Soviet and Chinese aid in the north and substantial American aid in the south. In the north, land reform in 195556 was followed by rapid collectivization of agriculture and handicrafts. Government investment favoured heavy industry at the expense of agriculture, handicrafts, and light industry, the traditional mainstays of the economy. Heavy industry grew, but efficiency was low, quality was poor, and further progress was hampered by deficiencies in agriculture and light industry. Economic aid from socialist countries masked many economic deficiencies. The southern economy was largely based on free enterprise, with significant state ownership of industrial enterprises. Agriculture flourished in the Mekong delta, while trade and transport were developed by private enterprise. The standard of living was significantly higher in the south than it was in the north. After reunification, the northern model of development was imposed on the entire country. Efforts to socialize the commercial sector and to collectivize agriculture met with resistance, especially in urban centres and in the rich Mekong delta, where the majority of farmers in the 1970s were self-sufficient, middle-income peasants. The south also experienced a severe loss of human resources. Many well-educated people fled Vietnam after 1975. Hundreds of thousands more, mainly those associated with the former government or the Americans, were placed in jails or reeducation centres, while other skilled but politically suspect people were forced to resettle in remote areas. Efforts to abolish private enterprise in the south and deteriorating political relations with China mainly affected the ethnic Chinese and precipitated a flight of ethnic Chinese from Vietnam in 1978. Large police and military expenditures further strained the budget and diverted resources from productive enterprises. These factors, combined with poor management of state-run programs, precipitated a severe economic crisis. Food production and per capita income dropped, and consumer goods were shoddy, expensive, and in short supply. The government responded with minor reforms in 1979 and more basic changes beginning in 1986. Vietnam began to move away from a state-controlled, centrally planned, subsidized economy toward one that utilized market forces and incentives and tolerated private enterprisealbeit under continuing government control. In response, the quality and variety of food and of various consumer goods increased, as did exports. Resources Mineral deposits, mainly in the north, are diverse. There are large reserves of anthracite coal, as well as of phosphates, high-grade chromite, tin, antimony, bauxite, gold, iron ore, lead, tungsten, zinc, and lime. A number of offshore oil deposits have been discovered in the South China Sea, mainly off Vietnam's southern coast. The land Relief Vietnam's principal physiographic features are the Annamese Cordillera (French: Chane Annamitique; Vietnamese: Nui Truong Son), extending from north to south in central Vietnam and dominating the interior, and two extensive alluvial deltas formed by the Red (Hong) River in the north and the Mekong (Cuu Long) River in the south. Between these two deltas is a long, relatively narrow coastal plain. From north to south the uplands of northern Vietnam can be divided into two distinct regionsthe region north of the Red River and the massif that extends south of the Red River into neighbouring Laos. The Red River forms a deep, relatively wide valley that runs in a straight northwest-southeast direction for much of its course from the Chinese border to the edge of its delta. North of the Red River the relief is moderate, with the highest elevations occurring between the Red and Lo (Clear) rivers; there is a marked depression from Cao Bang to the sea. In the Red River delta and in the valleys of the region's other major rivers are found wide limestone terraces, extensive alluvial plains, and low hills. The northeast coast is dotted with hundreds of islands composed mostly of limestone. Compared with the area north of the Red River, the vast massif extending southwest across Laos to the Mekong River is of considerably higher elevation. Among its outstanding topographic features is Fan Si Peak, which at 10,312 feet (3,143 metres) is the highest peak in Vietnam. South of the Black (Da) River are the Ta P'ing, Son La, and Moc Chau plateaus, which are separated by deep valleys. In central Vietnam the Annamese Cordillera runs parallel to the coast, with several peaks rising to elevations of more than 6,000 feet. Several spurs jut into the South China Sea, forming sections of the coast isolated from one another. Communication across the central ranges is difficult. The southern portion of the Annamese Cordillera has two identifiable regions. One consists of plateaus of approximately 1,700 feet in elevation that have experienced little erosion, as in the Dac Lac Plateau near Buon Me Thuot. The second region is characterized by heavily eroded plateaus: in the vicinity of Pleiku, the Kontum Plateau is about 2,500 feet above sea level, and, in the Da Lat area, the Di Linh Plateau is about 4,900 feet. Drainage Below the northern uplands is the Red River delta. Roughly triangular in shape, it extends some 150 miles inland and measures 75 miles along the Gulf of Tonkin. The delta can be divided into four subregions. The northwestern section has the highest and most broken terrain, and its extensive natural levees invite settlement despite frequent flooding. The low-lying eastern portion has benchmarks of less than seven feet above sea level in the vicinity of Bac Ninh. Rivers there form small valleys only slightly lower than the general surface level, and they are subject to flooding by the area's unusually high tides. The third and fourth subregions consist, respectively, of the poorly drained lowlands in the west and the coastal area, which is marked by the remains of former beach ridges left by the continuous expansion of the delta. The Annamese Cordillera forms a drainage divide, with rivers to the east flowing to the South China Sea and those to the west to the Mekong River. South of the mountain range there is an identifiable terrace region that gives way to the Mekong River delta. The terrace region includes the alluvial plains along the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers. The lowlands of southern Vietnam are dominated by alluvial plains, the most extensive of which is the Mekong River delta, covering an area of 15,400 square miles in Vietnam. Smaller deltaic plains also occur along the south-central coast of the South China Sea. The people Ethnolinguistic groups Vietnam has one of the most complex ethnolinguistic patterns in Asia. The Vietnamese were significantly Sinicized during a millennium of Chinese rule. Vietnamese, one of the Mon-Khmer languages of the Austro-Asiatic language family, exhibits strong Chinese influence. Indian influence is found among the Cham and Khmer minorities. The Cham, whose language belongs to the Austronesian language family, formed the majority population in the Indianized kingdom of Champa in what is now central Vietnam from the 2nd century to the late 15th century AD. Small numbers of Cham remain in the south-central coastal plain and in the Mekong delta near the Cambodian border. The Khmer (Cambodians), whose language is one of the Mon-Khmer languages, are scattered throughout the Mekong delta. Many other ethnic groups inhabit the highlands. While cultures vary considerably in the central highlands, shared characteristics include a traditional way of life still largely oriented around kin groups and small communities. Known collectively by the French as Montagnards (Highlanders), these peoples have affinities with other Southeast Asians. Many groupssuch as the Rade (Rhade), Jarai, Chru, and Roglaispeak Austronesian languages, linking them to the Cham, Malay, and Indonesian peoples; othersincluding the Bru, Pacoh, Katu, Cua, Hre, Rengao, Sedang, Bahnar, Mnong, Mang (Maa), and Stiengspeak Mon-Khmer languages, affiliating them with the Khmer. Highlanders have experienced little Chinese or Indian influence, but they were exposed to Western (French and then American) influence from the late 19th century until the early 1970s. French missionaries and administrators provided roman script for some of the Montagnard languages, and additional orthographies have been devised since. The Montagnards have exhibited an intense desire to preserve their own cultural identities. The various groups in the uplands of northern Vietnam have ethnolinguistic affiliations with peoples in Thailand, Laos, and southern China. The largest of these are the tribal Tai (Thai) groups who speak Tai languages and generally live in upland valleys. Hmong (Miao, or Meo) and Mien groups, who speak languages of the Sino-Tibetan language family, are scattered at higher elevations. Religions Confucianism, Taoism, and Mahayana Buddhism flowed into Vietnam over many centuries. Gradually they became intertwined, simplified, and Vietnamized to constitute, along with vestiges of earlier animistic beliefs, a Vietnamese folk religion that came to be shared to some considerable extent by all Vietnamese, regardless of region or social class. Animistic beliefs are held by many tribal peoples. During the 1920s the syncretic religion of Cao Dai appeared, and in the 1930s the Hoa Hao neo-Buddhist sect spread through parts of the Mekong delta. Roman Catholicism was introduced into Vietnam in the 16th century and spread rapidly following the French conquest in the mid-19th century. The heaviest concentrations of Roman Catholics in Vietnam once were in the north, but many fled to the south after the partition of the country in 1954. Protestantism came to Vietnam in 1911 and spread mainly among small segments of the urban population in the central and southern regions. In 1954 all foreign Roman Catholic clergy were expelled from North Vietnam, leaving only native priests. The North Vietnamese government tried to supplant organized religion with its own patriotic Buddhist, Cao Dai, Catholic, and Protestant religious organizations; Catholic clergy and membership renounced their allegiance to Rome. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam, all foreign Christian clergy were expelled. The country's current constitution has guaranteed freedom of religion, though in practice government controls have been relaxed only gradually.

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