Provinces of Vietnam
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Vietnam is divided into 58 provinces (Vietnamese: tỉnh) and 5 municipalities existing at the same level as provinces (thành phố trực thuộc trung ương). The provinces are divided into districts (huyện), provincial cities (thành phố trực thuộc tỉnh), and district-level towns (thị xã), which are subdivided into commune-level towns (thị trấn) or communes (xã). The municipalities are divided into rural districts (huyện) and urban districts (quận), which are subdivided into wards (phường).
Vietnamese provinces are controlled by a People's Council (Hội Đồng Nhân Dân), elected by the inhabitants. The number of councilors varies from province to province, depending on the population of that province. 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. Provincial governments are expected to be subordinate to the central government.
The People's Committee (Uỷ Ban Nhân Dân) is, as mentioned previously, the executive arm of a provincial government, and is responsible for formulating and implementing policy. It may be thought of as the equivalent of a cabinet. The People's Committee will have a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman, and between nine and eleven ordinary members.
List and statistics
According to the census results of April 1, 2009, the population of Vietnam is 85,789,573 people. The most populous top-level administrative unit in Vietnam is Hồ Chí Minh City, one of the five centrally governed cities. It has 7,123,340 people living within its official boundaries. The second most populous administrative unit is the recently expanded Hà Nội with 6,448,837 people. Prior to the expansion of the capital city, this rank belonged to Thanh Hóa with 3,400,239 people. The least populous is Bắc Kạn, a mountainous province in the remote northeast with 294,660 people.
The following is a table of Vietnam's provinces broken down by population and area, April 1, 2009.
See also List of postal codes in Vietnam
The Vietnamese government often groups the various provinces into eight regions. These regions are not always used, and alternative classifications are possible. The regions include:
- Northwest (Tây Bắc) contains inland provinces in the west of Vietnam's northern part. There are four provinces in this region. Two of them are along Vietnam's border with Laos, and one borders China.
- Northeast (Đông Bắc) contains most of the mountainous provinces that lie to north of the highly populated Red River lowlands. There are eleven provinces in this region.
- Red River Delta (Đồng Bằng Sông Hồng) contains the small but populous provinces along the mouth of the Red River. There are nine provinces in this region, plus the national capital, Hanoi, and the municipality of Haiphong — both are independent of any provincial government.
- North Central Coast (Bắc Trung Bộ) contains the coastal provinces in the northern half of Vietnam's narrow central part. There are six provinces in this region. They all stretch from the coast in the east to Laos in the west.
- South Central Coast (Nam Trung Bộ) contains the coastal in the southern half of Vietnam's central part. There are seven provinces, plus the municipality of Da Nang in this region. Vietnam is wider at this point than in the North Central Coast region, and so the inland areas are separate provinces.
- Central Highlands (Tây Nguyên) contains the most inland provinces of south-central Vietnam. There are five provinces in this region. While mostly inhabited by ethnic minorities, there are many Vietnamese living here.
- Southeast (Đông Nam Bộ) contains those parts of lowland southern Vietnam which are north of the Mekong delta. There are five provinces, plus the municipality of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
- Mekong River Delta (Đồng Bằng Sông Cửu 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 Cần Thơ. The other name of this region is Southwest (Tây Nam Bộ).
Historical provinces of Vietnam
- Hà Nam Ninh - then divided into three provinces: Hà Nam, Nam Định and Ninh Bình
- Hà Sơn Bình (divided into Hà Tây and Hòa Bình - then on August 1, 2008, Hà Tây and 4 communities of Hòa Bình became a part of expanded capital city Hà Nội)
- Hà Bắc Province - divided into Bắc Giang Province and Bắc Ninh Province
- Châu Đốc
- Long Hồ
- Nghệ Tĩnh (divided into Nghệ An and Hà Tĩnh), most noted for being the site of the Nghe Tinh Soviet Republic declared September 1930 and lasted into 1931, a short-lived bastion against colonial French rule.
- Minh Hải (divided into Cà Mau and Bạc Liêu)
- Vĩnh Phú (divided into Vĩnh Phúc and Phú Thọ
- Hà Tây - annexed into Hà Nội since August 1, 2008.