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Additionally, as evidenced by the name change, their history has been profoundly influenced by their contact with other, often more powerful, groups. It has been at peace for over a decade, but since the 1986 introduction of the "Renovation" or Doi Moi policy that began dismantling the country's socialist economy in favor of a market economy, the country has experienced tremendous social changes.Some have been positive, such as a general rise in the standard of living, but others have not, such as increased corruption, social inequality, regional tensions, and an HIV-AIDS epidemic.
The country's two largest population centers are Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but over 75 percent of the population lives in rural areas.The Chinese objected to this new name because it was the same as an ancient state that had rebelled against Chinese rule. Vietnamese officials resented the change and it did not attain public acceptance until the late 1800s.The story of the origin of Vietnam's name captures several prominent themes that have run throughout the nation's history.The country's birth rate, estimated to increase at 1.37 percent per year, has led to rapid population growth since the 1980s with approximately 34 percent of the population under 14 years of age. Vietnamese is the dominant language, spoken by an estimated 86.7 percent of the population.It is a tonal Mon-Khmer language with strong Chinese lexical influences.During the twentieth century the country's elite have mastered a variety of second languages, such as French, Russian, and English, with the latter being the most commonly learned second language today.
Linguists estimate that approximately eighty-five other languages from the Austro-Asiatic, Austronesian, Daic, Miao-Yiao, and Sino-Tibetan language families are indigenous to the country.Recent progress has been made settling land border disputes with China and Cambodia.The Vietnamese culturally divide their country into three main regions, the north ( Bac Bo ), center ( Trung Bo ), and south ( Nam Bo ), with Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) serving as the main cities of each region.Its 2,135 miles (3,444 kilometers) of coastline run from its border with Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand along the South China Sea to its border with China.The delineation of Vietnam's borders has been a focus of dispute in the post–1975 period, notably the ownership disputes with China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Malaysia over the Spratly Islands; and with China and Taiwan over the Paracel Islands. The name Vietnam originated in 1803 when envoys from the newly founded Nguyen dynasty traveled to Beijing to establish diplomatic relations with the Chinese court.