As the result of years of war, Vietnam's infrastructure is weak, but steadily improving. In the French colonial period, a 1,730-kilometer (1,075-mile) rail system was developed which connected Saigon to Hanoi, and the port city of Haiphong to Yunnan, China. Later in the 1950s, the Chinese assisted with the development of a rail link between Hanoi and Guangxi Province in China. All of these lines were badly damaged during the wars. Total railway length is 2,652 kilometers (1,650 miles), and many tracks need renovation. In 1999, it took 32 hours to travel by rail from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam has 93,300 kilometers (57,977 miles) of highways, 25 percent of which are paved. However, many of the paved roads are in poor condition. Notable improvements have occurred in recent years. For example, there is now an excellent highway from Hanoi to the International Airport and the road from Hanoi to Haiphong and Ha Long Bay is being steadily improved, as is Highway Number One, which links Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. A considerable amount of international economic assistance is being used to upgrade Vietnam's weak road infrastructure.
Vietnam's major ports are Haiphong (in the north), Da Nang (central region) and Ho Chi Minh City (in the south). To supplement these, additional ports have been developed at Cua Lo, Quy Nhon, and Nha Trang. Vietnam has 2 international airports (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) and 32 local airports. Travel to distant remote provinces is often done by air.
With Vietnam's rapid economic development in the 1990s, energy demand has been increasing at about 20 percent per year, frequently outstripping supplies of electricity. In 1999, Vietnam generated 22.985 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, of which 47.1 percent was from fossil fuels and 52.3 percent from hydroelectric power. In the future, Vietnam could import electricity from Laos, which has great hydroelectric potential.
While Vietnam's telecommunications system has steadily improved, it remains inadequate. There were only 2.6 million conventional phone lines in 2000 and 730,155 cellular phones for a population of approximately 80 million. Vietnam has 101 radio stations, 7 television stations, and 5 Internet service providers. It is estimated that there
|Country||Newspapers||Radios||TV Sets a||Cable subscribers a||Mobile Phones a||Fax Machines a||Personal Computers a||Internet Hosts b||Internet Users b|
|a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.|
|b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( http://www.isc.org ) and are per 10,000 people.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
are 8.2 million radios, 3.57 million televisions, and 121,000 Internet users in Vietnam in 2000. Internet service in Vietnam tends to be slow and expensive.