Vietnam is the most easterly of the countries of mainland Southeast Asia, with a coastline of over 3,400km. It has one of the highest average population densities in the world, and pressure on land is exacerbated by hilly terrain and extensive forests. The majority of the population (64%) currently live in rural areas, but this has been decreasing for several decades and is predicted to drop below 50% by 2040. Agriculture is an important part of the economy: 40% of the working population are employed in this sector and it contributes 15% to GDP (2017) but there has been a steady decline in importance over several decades.
Vietnam’s constitution entrusts all land and underground natural resources to the entire population and so individuals and organizations cannot own land. The 1993 Land Law allows the state to allocate land-use rights or lease land to individuals or organizations. The rights include the right to receive a land-use right certificate, lease or mortgage the land, bequeath the right to use it, and allow for land transfers that are equivalent to sales.
Women in Vietnam legally have equal land-use rights to men, including requiring both spouses to be listed for jointly held land and giving equal inheritance rights. In practice, these rights are not always due to lack of government capacity to update documentation, customs that favour men, and lack of knowledge and education.