Over the last several decades Vietnam has gone through a period of rapid socio-economic development. After reunification in 1975, Vietnam switched its focus to reconstruction and development. However, due to the severe damages caused by many years of war, policy weaknesses and a difficult international environment, Vietnam’s economy experienced a long period of crisis during the 1970s and 1980s.
To overcome these difficulties the DoiMoi (renovation) process was initiated in 1986 with the following main elements:
- Shifting from a planned centralized economy based on public ownership to a multi-sector economy based on the market;
- Democratizing social life by building a state on the basis of the rule of law;
- Strengthening external cooperation with other countries.
Viet Nam is currently nearing the end of its Socio-economic Development Strategy for 2001 – 2010 and is planning for new the Socio-Economic Development Strategy (SEDS) for 2011 – 2020. The previous two SEDS (1991-2000 and 2001-2010) have helped Vietnam advance from a largely poor, agricultural-based economy to a wealthier, market-based and rapidly developing one, increasingly integrated into the regional and global community. In 2010 it is estimated Vietnam will enter middle income country status, and the new SEDS aims to establish the foundation for Vietnam to become a modern, industrialized country by 2020.
Rapid urbanization presents many challenges for management of Vietnam's cities. At the same time, major challenges to Vietnam's development persist, and new ones have emerged in recent years. These include climate change and increasing social and economic disparities. Economic growth has been associated with an increase in inequality, particularly a widening rural-urban income gap. Poverty rates remain high, particularly among ethnic minorities, which comprise 14 percent of the population and live mainly in these remote upland areas. About 90 percent of the poor live in rural areas. Poverty still affects close to 15 per cent of Vietnamese people, including around 50 per cent of the ethnic minority population.
* United Nations - Vietnam at a Glance.