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This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Vietnam. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Vietnam. For many Vietnamese, the government's economic reforms have improved living standards and reduced official intrusions into their daily lives. Vietnam gained independence from France in 1954 following a century of colonial rule and occupation by the Japanese during World War II. At independence, the country was divided into the French-supported Republic of South Vietnam and the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north. Vietnamese freely use the Internet. The government, however, blocks some politically sensitive sites and authorizes the state-owned Vietnam Data Communications company, the sole Internet access provider, to monitor sites accessed by subscribers.