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Offroad Vietnam Motorbike Adventures – Ho Chi Minh City, Southern Vietnam

HO CHI MINH CITY, SOUTHERN VIETNAM

General Information

Ho Chi Minh City, Southern Vietnam
Founded: 1698
Renamed: 1976
Demonym: Saigonese
Area: 809.23 sq mi (2,095 km²)
Population: About 8 million
Density: 9,294/sq mi (3,590/km²)
Area code: 08
Website: http://www.hochiminhcity.gov.vn

Ho Chi Minh City (Thành pho Ho Chí Minh), formerly named Saigon (Sài Gòn), is the largest city in Vietnam.

Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochin-china and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam from 1955-75. South Vietnam, as an anti-communist, capitalist republic, fought against the communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong during the Vietnam War, with aid from the United States and countries including Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. Saigon fell when it was captured by the communists on 30 April 1975, ending the war with a Communist victory. Vietnam was then turned into a communist state with the South overtaken. On 2 July 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Đinh Province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after Ho Chí Minh (although the name Sài Gòn is still commonly used).

The metropolitan area, which consists of the Ho Chi Minh City metropolitan area, Thu Dau Mat, Di An, Biên Hòa and surrounding towns, is populated by more than 9,000,000 people, making it the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam. The city’s population is expected to grow to 13.9 million in 2025.

The Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area, a metropolitan area covering most parts of Đông Nam Ba plus Tien Giang and Long An provinces under planning, will have an area of 30,000 square kilometers with a population of 20 million inhabitants by 2020. According to the Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Economist Intelligence Unit and ECA International, Ho Chi Minh City is ranked 132 on the list of world’s most expensive cities for expatriate employees.

Name

Ho Chi Minh City has gone by several different names during its history, reflecting settlement by different ethnic, cultural and political groups. In the 1690s, Nguyen Huu Canh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Hue to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the Mekong Delta and its surroundings. Control of the city and the area passed to the Vietnamese, who gave the city the official name of Gia Đinh. This name remained until the time of French conquest in the 1860s, when the occupying force adopted the name Saigon for the city, a westernized form of the traditional name.

Immediately after the communist takeover of South Vietnam in 1975, a provisional government renamed the city after Ho Chí Minh, the late North Vietnamese leader. Even today, however, the informal name of Sài Gòn remains in daily speech both domestically and internationally, especially among the Vietnamese diaspora. in particular, Sài Gòn is still commonly used to refer to District 1.

Etymology

Sài Gòn may refer to the kapok (bông gòn) trees that are common around the city.

An etymology of Sài Gòn is that Sài is a Sino-Vietnamese word meaning “firewood, lops, twigs; palisade”, while Gòn is another Sino-Vietnamese word meaning “stick, pole, bole”, and whose meaning evolved into “cotton” in Vietnamese (bông gòn, literally “cotton stick”, i.e., “cotton plant”, then shortened to gòn). This name may refer to the many kapok plants that the Khmer people had planted around Prey Nokor, and which can still be seen at Cây Mai temple and surrounding areas. it may also refer to the dense and tall forest that once existed around the city, a forest to which the Khmer name, Prey Nokor, already referred.

Other proposed etymologies draw parallels from Tai-Ngon, the Cantonese name of Cholon, which means “embankment” (French: quais), and Vietnamese Sai Côn, a translation of the Khmer Prey Nokor. Prey means forest or jungle, and nokor is a Khmer word of Sanskrit origin meaning city or kingdom, and related to the English word ‘Nation’ – thus, “forest city” or “forest kingdom”.

The current official name, Thành pho Ho Chí Minh, 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 Chí Minh, the pre-eminent North Vietnamese leader. This name, though not his given name, was one he favored throughout his later years. it combines a common Vietnamese surname (Ho) with a given name meaning “enlightened will” (from Sino-Vietnamese; Chí meaning ‘will’ or spirit, and Minh meaning ‘light’), in essence, meaning “bringer of light”.

History

Early history

Ho Chi Minh City began as a small fishing village known as Prey Nokor. The area that the city now occupies was originally swampland, and was inhabited by Khmer people for centuries before the arrival of the Vietnamese. in Khmer folklore southern Vietnam was given to the Vietnamese government as a dowry for the marriage of a Vietnamese princess to a Khmer prince in order to stop constant invasions and pillaging of Khmer villages.

Beginning in the early 17th century, colonization of the area by Vietnamese settlers gradually isolated the Khmer of the Mekong Delta from their brethren in Cambodia proper and resulted in their becoming a minority in the delta. in 1623, King Chey Chettha ii of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trinh-Nguyen civil war in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor and to set up a custom house there. increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers, which the Cambodian kingdom could not impede because it was weakened by war with Thailand, slowly Vietnamized the area. in time, Prey Nokor became known as Saigon. Prey Nokor was the most important commercial seaport to the Khmers. The loss of the city prevented the Cambodians access to the indochine. Subsequently, the Khmers’ access to the sea was now limited to the Gulf of Thailand.

Nguyen dynasty rule

in 1698, Nguyen Huu Canh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Hue by sea to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area, thus detaching the area from Cambodia, which was not strong enough to intervene. He is often credited with the expansion of Saigon into a significant settlement. A large Vauban citadel called Gia Đinh was built, which was later destroyed by the French following the Battle of Kỳ Hòa (see Citadel of Saigon).

Colonial French era

Conquered by France in 1859, the city was influenced by the French during their colonial occupation of Vietnam, and a number of classical Western-style buildings and French villas in the city reflect this. Saigon had, in 1929, a population of 123,890, including 12,100 French.

Capital of South Vietnam

The Vietnamese people had proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. The US decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Former Emperor Bao Đai made Saigon the capital of the State of Vietnam in 1949 with himself as head of state. After the Viet Minh gained control of North Vietnam in 1954, it became common to refer to the Saigon government as “South Vietnam.” The government was renamed the Republic of Vietnam when Bao Đai was deposed by his Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diem in 1955 in a fraudulent referendum. Saigon and Cholon, an adjacent city with many Sino-Vietnamese residents, were combined into an administrative unit known as the Đô Thành Sài Gòn (Capital City Saigon).

Post-Vietnam war and today

At the conclusion of the Vietnam War on 30 April 1975, the city came under the control of the Vietnamese People’s Army. Among Vietnamese diaspora communities and particularly the U.S. (which had fought the communists), this event is commonly called the “fall of Saigon,” while the communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam refers to it as the “Liberation of Saigon.” in 1976, upon the establishment of the unified communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the city of Saigon (including Cholon), the province of Gia Ðinh and two suburban districts of two other nearby provinces were combined to create Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the late Communist leader Ho Chí Minh. The former name Saigon is still widely used by many Vietnamese, especially in informal contexts. Generally, the term Saigon refers only to the urban districts of Ho Chi Minh City.

Geography

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 and Bình Duong provinces to the north, Đong Nai and Bà Ria-Vung Tàu provinces to the east, Long An Province to the west and the indochine to the south with a coast 15 km long. The city covers an area of 2,095 km² (809 sq mi) (0.63% of the surface of Vietnam), extending up to Cu Chi (12 mi (19 km) from the Cambodian border) and down to Can Giờ on the Bien Dong coast.

The distance from the northernmost point (Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi District) to the southernmost one (Long Hòa Commune, Can Giờ District) is 102 kilometers (63 mi), and from the easternmost point (Long Binh Ward, District Nine) to the westernmost one (Bình Chánh Commune, Bình Chánh District) is 47 kilometers (29 mi).

Climate

The city has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate, with an average humidity of 75%. 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 begins in May and ends in late November. The dry season lasts from December to April. The average temperature is 28 °C (82 °F), the highest temperature sometimes reaches 39 °C (102 °F) around noon in late April, while the lowest may fall below 16 °C (61 °F) in the early mornings of late December into early January.

Political & Administrative System

Saigon is a municipality at the same level as Vietnam’s provinces. The city has been divided into twenty-four administrative divisions since December 2003. Five of these {Area: 1,601 km²} are designated as rural. The rural districts are Nhà Bè, Can Gio, Hóc Môn, Cu Chi, and Bình Chánh. A rural district consists of communes and townships. The remaining districts {Area: 494 km²} are designated urban or suburban. This includes districts one to twelve, as well as Tân Bình, Bình Thanh, Phú Nhuan, Thu Đuc, Bình Tân, Tân Phú and Gò Vap. Each district is sub-divided into wards. Since December 2006, the city has had 259 wards, 58 communes and 5 townships (see List of HCMC administrative units below).

List of HCMC Administrative Units

Inner Districts

– District 1: 10 wards
– District 2: 11 wards
– District 3: 14 wards
– District 4: 15 wards
– District 5: 15 wards
– District 6: 14 wards
– District 7: 10 wards
– District 8: 16 wards
– District 9: 13 wards
– District 10: 15 wards
– District 11: 16 wards
– District 12: 11 wards
– Go Vap District: 16 wards
– Tan Binh District: 15 wards
– Tan Phu District: 11 wards
– Binh Thanh District: 20 wards
– Phu Nhuan District: 15 wards
– Thu Duc District: 12 wards
– Binh Tan District: 10 wards

Suburban Districts

– Cu Chi District: 20 communes, 1 township
– Hoc Mon District: 11 communes, 1 township
– Binh Chanh District: 15 communes, 1 township
– Nha Be District: 6 communes, 1 township
– Can Gio District

Demographics

The population of Ho Chi Minh City, as of the 1 October 2004 Census, was 6,117,251 (of which 19 inner districts had 5,140,412 residents and 5 suburban districts had 976,839 inhabitants). in mid-2007, the city’s population was 6,650,942 – with the 19 inner districts home to 5,564,975 residents and the five suburban districts containing 1,085,967 inhabitants. The result of the 2009 Census shows that the city’s population was 7,162,864 people, about 8.34% of the total population of Vietnam, making it the highest population-concentrated city in the country. As of the end of 2012, the total population of the city was 7,750,900 people, an increase of 3.1% from 2011.

As an administrative unit, its population is also the largest at the provincial level. 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. Other ethnic minorities, include Khmer 0.34%, Cham 0.1%.

The inhabitants of Ho Chi Minh City are usually known as “Saigonese” in English, “Saigonnais” in French and “dân Sài Gòn” in Vietnamese. The Hòa, in addition, speak Cantonese, Teochew (Chaozhou), Hokkien, Hainanese and Hakka dialects of Chinese, with only a few speaking Mandarin Chinese. A varying degree of English is spoken especially in the tourism and commerce sectors where dealing with foreign nationals is a necessity, so English has become a de facto second language for some Saigonese.

According to some researchers the religious makeup of Ho Chi Minh City is as follows: Buddhism (all sects and/or including Taoism, Confucianism) 80%, Roman Catholic 11%, other groups (ism, Hòa Hao, Cao Đài, islam, Hinduism, Bahá’í Faith) 2%, and no religion/unknown 7%.

Economy

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 laborers, of whom 130,000 are over the labor 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.

In 2007, the city’s GDP was estimated at $14.3 billion, or about $2,180 per capita, up 12.6 percent from 2006 and accounting for 20% of the country’s GDP. The GDP adjusted to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) reached $71.5 billion, or about $10,870 per capita (approximately three times higher than the country’s average). The city’s industrial Product Value was $6.4 billion, equivalent to 30% of the value of the entire nation. Export – import Turnover through HCMC ports accounted for $36 billion, or 40% of the national total, of which export revenue reached $18.3 billion (40% of Vietnam’s total export revenues).

in 2007, Ho Chi Minh City’s contribution to the annual revenues in the national budget increased by 30 percent, accounting for about 20.5 percent of total revenues. The consumption demand of Ho Chi Minh City is higher than other Vietnamese provinces and municipalities and 1.5 times higher than that of Hanoi. As of June 2006, the city has been home to three export processing zones and twelve industrial parks. Ho Chi Minh City is the leading receiver of foreign direct investment in Vietnam, with 2,530 FDI projects worth $16.6 billion at the end of 2007. in 2007, the city received over 400 FDI projects worth $3 billion.

In 2008, it attracted $8.5 billion in FDI. in 2010, the city’s GDP was estimated at $20.902 billion, or about $2,800 per capita, up 11.8 percent from 2009.

By the end of 2012, the city’s GDP was estimated around $28,595 billion, or about $3,700 per capita, up 9.2 percent from 2011. Total trade (export and import) reached $47.7 billion, with export at $21.57 billion and import $26.14 billion.

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