Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City has gone by several different names during its history, reflecting settlement by different ethnic, cultural and political groups. Originally a trading port city of the Khmer Empire known as Prey Nokor (Khmer: ព្រៃនគរ), it is still known as Prey Nokor to Cambodians even today. In time, under the control of the Vietnamese, it was officially renamed Gia Dinh (嘉定), a name that was retained until the time of the French conquest in the 1860s, when it adopted the name Sài Gòn, westernized as Saïgon, although the city was still indicated as 嘉定 on Vietnamese maps written in Chữ Hán until at least 1891.
The current Ho Chi Minh name was given after the Fall of Saigon in 1975 to honor Ho Chi Minh. Even today, however, the informal name of Sài Gòn remains in daily speech both domestically and internationally, especially among the Vietnamese diaspora. However, there is a technical difference between the two terms: Sài Gòn is commonly used to refer to the city center in District 1 and the adjacent areas, while Ho Chi Minh City refers more to the entire modern city with all its urban and rural districts.
The current official name, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, adopted in 1976 and abbreviated TP.HCM, is translated as Ho Chi Minh City, abbreviated HCMC, and in French as Hô-Chi-Minh-Ville (the circumflex is sometimes omitted), abbreviated HCMV. The name commemorates Ho Chi Minh, the first leader of North Vietnam. This name, though not his given name, was one he favored throughout his later years. It combines a common Vietnamese surname (Hồ, 胡) with a given name meaning "enlightened will" (from Sino-Vietnamese 志 明; Chí meaning 'will' or 'spirit', and Minh meaning 'light'), in essence, meaning "light bringer”.
Ho Chi Minh City is located in the south-eastern region of Vietnam, 1,760 km (1,090 mi) south of Hanoi. The average elevation is 19 metres (62 ft) above sea level. It borders Tây Ninh Province and Bình Dương Province to the north, Đồng Nai Province and Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province to the east, Long An Province to the west and the East Sea to the south with a coast 15 km (9 mi) long. The city covers an area of 2,095 km2 (809 sq mi or 0.63% of the surface of Vietnam), extending up to Củ Chi District (12 mi or 19 km from the Cambodian border) and down to Cần Giờ on the Eastern Sea. The distance from the northernmost point (Phú Mỹ Hưng Commune, Củ Chi District) to the southernmost one (Long Hòa Commune, Cần Giờ District) is 102 km (63 mi), and from the easternmost point (Long Bình ward, District Nine) to the westernmost one (Bình Chánh Commune, Bình Chánh District) is 47 km (29 mi).
The city has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical savanna climate, with an average humidity of 78–82%. The year is divided into two distinct seasons. The rainy season, with an average rainfall of about 1,800 millimetres (71 in) annually (about 150 rainy days per year), usually lasts from May to November. The dry season lasts from December to April. The average temperature is 28 °C (82 °F), with little variation throughout the year. The highest temperature recorded was 40.0 °C (104 °F) in April while the lowest temperature recorded was 13.8 °C (57 °F) in January. On average, the city experiences between 2,400 to 2,700 hours of sunshine per year.
The city's population is expected to grow to 13.9 million by 2025. The population of the city is expanding faster than earlier predictions. In August 2017 the city's mayor, Nguyen Thanh Phong, admitted that previous estimates of 8–10 million were drastic underestimations. The actual population (including those who have not officially registered) was estimated 13 million in 2017. The Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area, a metropolitan area covering most parts of the southeast region plus Tiền Giang Province and Long An Province under planning, will have an area of 30,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi) with a population of 20 million inhabitants by 2020. Inhabitants of Ho Chi Minh City are usually known as "Saigonese" in English and "dân Sài Gòn" in Vietnamese.
The majority of the population are ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) at about 93.52%. Ho Chi Minh City's largest minority ethnic group are the Chinese (Hoa) with 5.78%. Cholon – in District 5 and parts of Districts 6, 10 and 11 – is home to the largest Chinese community in Vietnam. The Hoa (Chinese) speak a number of varieties of Chinese, including Cantonese, Teochew (Chaozhou), Hokkien, Hainanese and Hakka; smaller numbers also speak Mandarin Chinese. Other ethnic minorities include Khmer with 0.34%, and Cham with 0.1%.
The three most prevalent religions in Ho Chi Minh City are Mahayana Buddhism with Taoism and Confucianism (via ancestor worship), which are often celebrated together in the same temple. Most Vietnamese and Han Chinese are strongly influenced by these traditional religious practices. There is a sizeable community of Roman Catholics, representing about 10% of the city's population. Other minority groups include Hòa Hảo, Cao Đài, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, and members of the Bahá'í Faith.
Ho Chi Minh City is the economic center of Vietnam and accounts for a large proportion of the economy of Vietnam. Although the city takes up just 0.6% of the country's land area, it contains 8.34% of the population of Vietnam, 20.2% of its GDP, 27.9% of industrial output and 34.9% of the FDI projects in the country in 2005. In 2005, the city had 4,344,000 labourers, of whom 130,000 are over the labour age norm (in Vietnam, 60 for male and 55 for female workers). In 2009, GDP per capita reached $2,800, compared to the country's average level of $1,042.
Tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City are mainly related to periods of French colonization and the Vietnam War. The city's center has some wide American-style boulevards and a few French colonial buildings. The majority of these tourist spots are located in District 1 and are a short distance from each other. The most prominent structures in the city centre are the Reunification Palace (Dinh Thống Nhất), City Hall (Ủy ban nhân dân Thành phố), Municipal Theatre (Nhà hát thành phố, also known as the Opera House), City Post Office (Bưu điện thành phố), State Bank Office (Ngân hàng nhà nước), City People's Court (Tòa án nhân dân thành phố) and Notre-Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà) the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. Some of the historic hotels are the Hotel Majestic, dating from the French colonial era, and the Rex and Caravelle hotels are former hangouts for American officers and war correspondents in the 1960s & '70s. The city has various museums including the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Museum of Vietnamese History, the Revolutionary Museum, the Museum of south-eastern Armed Forces, the War Remnants Museum, the Museum of Southern Women, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Nha Rong Memorial House, and the Ben Duoc Relic of Underground Tunnels. The Củ Chi tunnels are north-west of the city in Củ Chi District. The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, in District 1, dates from 1865. The Đầm Sen Tourist and Cultural Park, Suối Tiên Amusement and Culture Park, and Cần Giờ's Eco beach resort are three recreational sites inside the city which are popular with tourists. Aside from the Municipal Theatre, there are other places of entertainment such as the Bến Thành theatre, Hòa Bình theatre, and the Lan Anh Music Stage. Ho Chi Minh City is home to hundreds of cinemas and theatres, with cinema and drama theatre revenue accounting for 60–70% of Vietnam's total revenue in this industry. Unlike other theatrical organisations found in Vietnam's provinces and municipalities, residents of Ho Chi Minh City keep their theatres active without the support of subsidies from the Vietnamese government. The city is also home to most of the private film companies in Vietnam. Like many of Vietnam's smaller cities, the city boasts a multitude of restaurants serving typical Vietnamese dishes such as phở or rice vermicelli. Backpacking travellers most often frequent the "Backpackers’ Quarter" on Phạm Ngũ Lão Street and Bùi Viện Street, District 1. It was approximated that 4.3 million tourists visited Vietnam in 2007, of which 70 percent, approximately 3 million tourists, visited Ho Chi Minh City. According to the most recent international tourist statistic, Ho Chi Minh City welcomed 6 million tourists in 2017. According to Mastercard's 2019 report, Ho Chi Minh City is also the country's second most visited city (18th in Asia Pacific), with 4.1 million overnight international visitors in 2018 (after Hanoi with 4.8 million visitors).
The health care system of the city is relatively developed with a chain of about 100 government owned hospitals or medical centres and dozens of privately owned clinics. The 1,400 bed Chợ Rẫy Hospital, upgraded by Japanese aid and the French-sponsored Institute of Cardiology and City International Hospital are among the top medical facilities in South-East Asia.
Culture: Due to its history, artworks have generally been inspired by both Western and Eastern styles. Famous art locations in Ho Chi Minh City include Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts, and various art galleries located on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street, Tran Phu street, and Bui Vien street.
Though the former schools are all public, private education is also available in Ho Chi Minh City. High school consists of grade 10–12 (sophomore, junior, and senior). Higher education in Ho Chi Minh City is a burgeoning industry; the city boasts over 80 universities and colleges with a total of over 400,000 students. Notable universities include Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, with 50,000 students distributed among six schools; The University of Technology (Vietnamese: Đại học Bách khoa, formerly Phú Thọ National Center of Technology); The University of Sciences (formerly Saigon College of Sciences); The University of Social Sciences and Humanities (formerly Saigon College of Letters); The International University; The University of Economics and Law; and the newly established University of Information Technology. Some other important higher education establishments include HCMC University of Pedagogy, University of Economics, University of Architecture, Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine Nong Lam University (formerly University of Agriculture and Forestry), University of Law, University of Technical Education, University of Banking, University of Industry, Open University, University of Sports and Physical Education, University of Fine Arts, University of Culture, the Conservatory of Music, the Saigon Institute of Technology, Văn Lang University, Saigon University and Hoa Sen University. In addition to the above public universities, Ho Chi Minh City is also home to several private universities. One of the most notable is RMIT International University, Vietnam, a campus of Australian public research RMIT University with an enrollment of about 6,000 students. Tuition at RMIT is about US$40,000 for an entire course of study. Other private universities include The International School of Business (Vietnam) (or ISB), an English-language university run as a partnership with universities abroad, including the University of Western Sydney and UQAM, Montreal. The Saigon International University (or SIU) is another private university run by the Group of Asian International Education. Enrollment at SIU averages about 12,000 students Depending on the type of program, tuition at SIU costs US$5,000–6,000 per year.
The city's media is the most developed in the country. At present, there are seven daily newspapers: Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon), and its Vietnamese, investment and finance, sports, evening and weekly editions; Tuổi Trẻ (Youth), the highest circulation newspaper in Vietnam; Thanh Nien (Young Men), the second largest circulation in the south of Vietnam; Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer); The Thao (Sports); Phap Luat (Law) and the Saigon Times Daily, the English-language newspaper as well as more than 30 other newspapers and magazines. The city has hundreds of printing and publishing houses, many bookstores and a widespread network of public and school libraries; the city's General Library houses over 1.5 million books. Locally based Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV) is the second largest television network in the nation, just behind the national Vietnam Television (VTV), broadcasting 24/7 on 7 different channels (using analog and digital technology). Many major international TV channels are provided through two cable networks (SCTV and HTVC), with over one million subscribers. The Voice of Ho Chi Minh City is the largest radio station in southern Vietnam. Internet coverage, especially through ADSL connections, is rapidly expanding, with over 2,200,000 subscribers and around 5.5 million frequent users. Internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Ho Chi Minh City include the Vietnam Data Communication Company (VDC), Corporation for Finance and Promoting Technology (FPT), Netnam Company, Saigon Post and Telecommunications Services Corporation (Saigon Postel Corporation, SPT) and Viettel Company. As in all of Vietnam, Internet access is regulated; websites containing sensitive political or religious content are routinely blocked, and certain websites have been blocked, though government officials deny that this is intentional. The city has more than two million fixed telephones and about fifteen million cellular phones (the latter growing annually by 20%). Mobile phone service is provided by a number of companies, including Viettel Mobile, MobiFone, VinaPhone, and Vietnam Mobile.
Sports: As of 2005, Ho Chi Minh City was home to 91 football fields, 86 swimming pools, 256 gyms. The largest stadium in the city is the 25,000-seat Thống Nhất Stadium, located on Đào Duy Từ Street, in Ward 6 of District 10. The next largest is Army Stadium, located near Tan Son Nhat Airport in Tân Bình district. Army Stadium was of the venues for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup finals. As well as being a sporting venue, it is also the site of a music school. Phú Thọ Racecourse, another notable sporting venue established during colonial times, is the only racetrack in Vietnam. The city's Department of Physical Education and Sports also manages a number of clubs, including Phan Dinh Phung, Thanh Da, and Yet Kieu. Ho Chi Minh City is home to a number of association football clubs. One of the city's largest clubs, Ho Chi Minh City F.C., is based at Thống Nhất Stadium. As Cảng Sài Gòn, they were four-time champions of Vietnam's V.League 1 (in 1986, 1993–94, 1997, and 2001–02). The team currently plays in Vietnam's First Division. Navibank Saigon F.C., founded as Quân Khu 4, also based at Thống Nhất Stadium, emerged as champions of the First Division in the 2008 season, and were promoted to the V-League in 2009. The city's police department also fielded a football team in the 1990s, Công An Thành Phố, which won the V-League championship in 1995. Celebrated striker Lê Huỳnh Đức, now manager of SHB Đà Nẵng F.C., played for the Police F.C. from 1995 to 2000, setting a league record of 25 goals in the 1996 season. Since 2016, Sài Gòn F.C. has competed in V.League 1. In 2011, Ho Chi Minh City was awarded an expansion team for the ASEAN Basketball League. SSA Saigon Heat is the first ever international professional basketball team to represent Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City hosts a number of international sports events throughout the year, such as the AFF Futsal Championship and the Vietnam Vertical Run. Several other sports are represented by teams in the city, such as volleyball, basketball, chess, athletics, and table tennis.
(Ho Chi Minh City from Wikipedia)