The quickest way to get to know a little bit about a country's background is by reading a handful of facts about it. Here are ten fun facts about Vietnam!
1. Vietnam's currency is the dong. The street value is about 20,000 dong per dollar, the official value is 21,250 dong per dollar. Street vendors generally go by the former because that round amount calculates easier, but will go by the latter if they can work it in their favor.
2. The Vietnamese are amongst the toughest people in the world. In the last 124 years, they have been occupied by the French, Japanese, Chinese and Americans - all powerful nations. Each of these have been booted out through the back door by Ho Chi Minh's army, backed by communist militias. Now the Vietnamese walk around with shirts saying "I love America!" Is that irony or are they really so forgivable (which is sometimes seen as yet another sign of toughness)?
3. The Vietnamese economy grows with an average of 5% per year. So if you want to go there while the prices are low, you probably want to go there as soon as possible!
4. Vovinam is a Vietnamese martial art that encompasses elements of most other common kinds of martial arts: weaponry (sticks, swords), wrestling, punching, kicking, and is both defensive and offensive.
5. Vietnam is home to more than 92 million people of 54 different ethnic groups. The Kinh are the largest with 86.2%.
6. Although Vietnam is a communist country, you hardly notice this as a foreigner. It has a free market and anything can be bought. Still, it is best to stay out of political discussions as there is no freedom of speech.
7. The TET festival (Tet Nguyen Dan) is the celebration of the Vietnamese new year. The entire country participates in the festivities which is held on the same day as the Chinese New Year and lasts for three days.
8. Everyone's last name seems to be Nguyen. Even Ho Chi Minh's actual name was Nguyen Sinh Con until he changed it around 1940.
9. Vietnam has an unemployment rate of around 2%: Even the guys on motorbikes that offer street whores to the tourists are considered to be employed.
10. Perspective: What we call the Vietnam War, is called the American War in Vietnam.