Vietnam a one-party communist state has one of south-east Asia’s fastest-growing economies and has set its sights on becoming a developed nation by 2020.

It became a unified country in 1976 after the armed forces of the communist north had seized the south of the country in the previous year.

This followed three decades of bitter independence wars which the communists fought first against the colonial power France then against US-backed South Vietnam. In its latter stages this conflict held the attention of the world.