THIS SOUTHEAST ASIAN country, with a long coastline on the South China Sea, has a land area of 128,065 sq. mi. (331,689 sq. km.), with a population of 87,375,000 (2006 est.) and a population density of 655 people per sq. mi. (253 people per sq. km.). The largest city and the former capital of South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) has a population of 3,525,300, making it the 49th largest in the world. Some 17 percent of the land in Vietnam is arable, with 4 percent being under permanent cultivation and 1 percent used as meadow or pasture. In addition, 30 percent of the country is forested, with an increasing logging industry operating in the country.
As there are three major rivers in Vietnam—the Red River, the Pearl River, and the Mekong—there has been a heavy investment in hydropower. In 1964, at a speech at Johns Hopkins University, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson offered a hydroelectric scheme for the Mekong River that was quickly dubbed the TVA for the Mekong. It was rejected by Ho Chi Minh, and the Vietnam War, which was escalating at that time, led to massive bombing of parts of the country, destruction of much of the infrastructure of both North Vietnam and South Vietnam, and the defoliation of some parts of the jungle. Following the end of the war in 1975 and the nation's reunification in the following year, the country was desperately poor. In spite of this, heavy government investment in hydropower then results in it now accounting for 59.3 percent of the country's electricity production, with the rest coming from fossil fuels. Electricity production accounts for 25 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the country, with 38 percent from transportation and 30 percent from manufacturing and construction.
During the 1990s, Vietnam became a major tourist destination, and this has led to a significant rise in the rate of per capita carbon dioxide emissions, from 0.3 metric tons per person in 1990 to 1.18 metric tons per person by 2004. In 1998, 48 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the country was from liquid fuels, 37 percent from solid fuels, 8 percent from gas flaring, and 7 percent from cement manufacturing.
The Vietnamese government of Vo Chi Cong took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992. The Vietnamese government signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on December 3, 1998, which was ratified on September 25, 2002, with it entering into force on February 16, 2005.
sEE ALso: Climate Change, Effects; Deforestation; Tourism.
BIBLioGRApHY. Jos Frijns, Phung Thuy Phuong, and Arthur P.J. Mol, "Ecological Modernisation Theory and Industrialising Economies: The Case of Viet Nam," (Environmental Politics (v.9/1, Spring 2000); Michael J. McRae, "Tam Dao—Sanctuary Under Siege," National Geographic (v.195/6, June 1999); Thomas O'Neill, "Mekong River," National Geographic (v.183/2, February 1993); World Resources Institute, "Vietnam—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007).
Robin S. Corfield Independent Scholar
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