Just over half of the active population is employed in agriculture, which is still mostly practiced with backward techniques. Arable and arborescent crops cover 28.9% of the territorial surface, rice cultivation clearly prevails, which is traditionally practiced with the seasonal flooding technique due to variations in the flow of rivers; However, thanks to the construction of barrage and canalization works there are now large areas with controlled irrigation, where two harvests a year are obtained. The Tonkin and Cochinchina plain are the two main agricultural areas of the country, densely intersected by dams and canals. Significant quantities of rice are produced annually, a staple of Vietnamese food, as in all of Southeast Asia. Politics, aimed at making the country self-sufficient from this point of view, it has led to an increase in cultivation, so much so that Viet Nam is the fifth world producer of rice. Among the other cereals, only maize, grown in mountain areas, has a certain importance, but at a great distance. Other food crops of some importance, naturally practiced on soils that remain dry, are those of cassava, sweet potato (of which it is the third Asian producer), potatoes and various horticultural products, such as cabbage, onions and beans, as well as fruit, such as bananas, pineapples, citrus fruits. There is no shortage of industrial crops, which play a discreet role for export purposes; sugar cane, some oil crops such as peanuts and soy, textile plants such as cotton and jute, therefore tea, have a certain diffusion. coffee, tobacco.
Compared to some of these productions, the country ranks among the major producers in Asia and in the world; this is the case of peanuts, tea and especially coffee, of which it is the second largest producer on the planet. Despite the enormous destruction carried out during the war, in particular for the use of defoliants and in general for the “chemical war”, Viet Nam can still count on a considerable forest patrimony, to protect which in 1992 the suspension of the export of unprocessed timber was decreed, extended in 1997 to all timber. It provides valuable woodworking essences, but above all bamboo, which is used to make houses, furniture, various tools, paper, etc. Well represented is also the hevea, which annually supplies good quantities of rubber. § On the whole, livestock farming is an underdeveloped sector, also due to the limited grazing areas and the scarcity of fodder; this has a decisive impact on the number of cattle, which is rather modest. On the other hand, the number of pigs is decidedly high, as they are, so to speak, a “complement” of the village; even more relevant is that of poultry. In the early 2000s, the poultry sector was hit hard by the spread of bird flu which forced the culling of animals, the closure of farms and, consequently, a reduction in exports. Buffaloes are still widely used in field work. § Given the considerable coastal development and the strong density of the population in the coastal strip, fishing – in particular sea fishing – is of considerable importance in the Vietnamese economy (fishing in inland waters is carried out mainly in flooded rice fields), often involving the residents of entire villages. Fish products enter the local diet, to which they ensure a conspicuous protein contribution, both in the form of direct consumption and through the preparation of nuoc-mam, which is the most used condiment in Viet Nam cuisine and which is obtained from the fermentation of fish. They also fuel exports of both frozen fish and processed products.
THE 21ST CENTURY
In November 2000, witnessing the thaw with the US, then President B. Clinton made the first official visit of an American president to the Vietnamese state, after the end of the war between the two countries. In addition to consolidating relations in the economic field, the visit had political motivations: the Vietnamese community in the USA in fact numbered about one million people. In April 2001, according to softwareleverage, the reformist Nong Duc Manh, believed to be the natural son of Hô Chi Minh, was elected secretary of the Communist Party. In 2002 the Russian Federation definitively closed the naval base of Cam Ranh Bay, the largest Soviet military installation outside the Warsaw Pact. In July of the same year the Parliament, by a very large majority, reconfirmed Tran Duc Luong as president. During 2003, the process of normalization of economic and political relations with the USA made progress. On the occasion of the celebrations for the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the war in April 2005, there was an amnesty that freed thousands of prisoners, including many political prisoners. In June 2006 the Parliament elected the new President of the Republic: Nguyen Minh Triet, who appointed Nguyen Tan Dung as premier. In November the country joined the WTO, greater guarantee for foreign investors whose capital is needed to support the country’s economic growth. In the legislative elections of May 2007, the Communist Party won 450 seats and 43 went to the independents. In 2011 Tru’o’ng Tàn Sang was elected president. In 2014, the friction with China over the control of the Paracel Islands triggered violent demonstrations against Chinese companies, forcing thousands of Chinese citizens to leave the country.