Vietnam is home to nearly 90 million inhabitants, and boasts a long, pristine coastline.
The country’s lush, tropical setting belies a turbulent history of colonization and warfare that ended with the establishment of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1975. In the years after unification, the country was plagued by poverty, repression and international isolation that hindered widespread economic prosperity. Today, Vietnam is one of the world’s most populous countries and a large segment of its population lives on less than US$2/day.
According to the World Bank, 22% of Vietnam’s population currently lives below the poverty line, an economic reality that coupled with a long history of warfare has contributed to poor infrastructure development. In the 1980's, the country’s one-party government introduced a series of reforms aimed at improving the economy and living standards. The Doi Moi (renovation), as it’s called, has made great advances since then—specifically in the areas of growing private enterprise, attracting foreign investment and transforming the country into an industrialized nation.
In the cities, a young middle class is eager to become engaged in trade with the rest of the world, but despite all efforts made to expand opportunities nearly two-thirds of the Vietnamese population still works as field laborers.