The capital of Vietnam is Hanoi (it had served as the capital of North Vietnam), and the largest and most populous city is the Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon, it had served as the capital of South Vietnam). Vietnam is subdivided into 64 provinces, which are further subdivided into districts and municipalities. Vietnamese provinces are in theory controlled by a People’s Council, elected by the inhabitants. The People’s Council appoints a People’s Committee, which acts as the executive arm of the provincial government. This arrangement is a somewhat simplified version of the situation in Vietnam’s national government. The provincial governments are expected to be subordinate to the central government. Often, the Vietnamese government groups the various provinces into eight regions. These regions are not always used, and alternative classifications are possible:
SUBDIVISIONS OF VIETNAM
The Northwest ( Tay Bac) contains four inland provinces in the west of Vietnam’s northern part. Two of them are along Vietnam’s border with Laos, and one borders China.
The Northeast ( Dong Bac) contains eleven provinces that lie to north of the highly populated Red River lowlands. Many of these provinces are mountainous.
The Red river delta (Dong Bang Song Hong) contains the small but populous provinces based around the Red River. There are nine provinces in this region. It also includes the national capital, Hanoi, and the municipality of Haiphong
The North central coast (Bac Trung Bo) contains six provinces in the northern half of Vietnam’s narrow central part. All provinces in this region stretch from the coast in the east to Laos in the west.
The South central coast (Nam Trung Bo) contains five coastal provinces in the southern half of Vietnam’s central part. Vietnam is wider at this point than in the North Central Coast region, and so the inland areas are separate provinces.
The Central highlands (Tay Nguyen) contains the five inland provinces of south-central Vietnam. Much of this region is mountainous, while mostly inhibited by ethnic minorities, there are many Vietnamese living here.
The Southeast (Dong Nam Bo) contains those parts of lowland southern Vietnam which are north of the Mekong delta. There are seven provinces, plus the municipality of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
The Mekong river delta (Dong Bang Song Cuu Long) is Vietnam’s southernmost region, mostly containing small but populous provinces in the delta of the Mekong. There are twelve provinces, plus the municipality of Can Tho.