Hanoi estimated population nearly 6.5 million (2009), as well as 3.324,92 square kilometres in area (2008) , is the capital and second-largest city of Vietnam. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Hue during the Nguyen Dynasty as the capital of Vietnam, but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam. In 1999, Hanoi was recognized The City for Peace by UNESCO.
The city is located on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is located at 21°2′N 105°51′E/21.033°N 105.85°ECoordinates: 21°2′N 105°51′E/21.033°N 105.85°E, 1,760 km (1,090 mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City.
October 2010 will officially mark 1000 years of the establishment of the city. On this occasion, Hanoi has been named as one of the world's "Top Destinations 2010".
Hanoi has had many names throughout history, all of them of Sino-Vietnamese origin. During the Chinese domination of Vietnam, it was known as Tống Bình and later Long Đỗ (literally "dragon's belly"). In 866, it was turned into a citadel and was named Đại La.
In 1010, Lý Thái Tổ, the first ruler of the Lý Dynasty, moved the capital of Đại Việt (the Great Viet, then the name of Vietnam) to the site of the Đại La Citadel. Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed it Thăng Long (Ascending dragon) - a name still used poetically to this day. It remained the capital of Vietnam until 1397, when the capital was moved to Thanh Hóa, also known as Tây Đô (Western Capital), Thăng Long then became Đông Đô (Eastern Capital).
Hanoi's population is constantly growing (about 3.5% per year), a reflection of the fact that the city is both a major metropolitan area of Northern Vietnam, and also the country's political centre. This population growth also puts a lot of pressure onto the infrastructure, some of which is antiquated and dates back from the early 20th century.
The number of Hanoians who settled down for more than three generations is likely to be very small as compared to the overall population of the city. Even in the Old Quarter, where commerce started hundreds years ago and was mostly a family business, many of the street-front stores nowadays are owned by merchants and retailers from other provinces. The pace of change has especially escalated after the abandonment of central-planning economic policies, and relaxing of the district-based household registrar system. Hanoi's telephone numbers have been increased to 8 digits to cope with demand (October 2008).
Hanoi experiences the typical climate of northern Vietnam, where summers are hot and humid, and winters are relatively cool and dry. Under the Koppen climate classification, Hanoi features a warm humid subtropical climate. The summer months from May to September receive the majority of rainfall in the year (1,682 mm rainfall/ year), and the average temperature of 29,2ºC. The winter months from November to March are relatively dry, although spring then often brings light rains. The minimum winter temperature in Hanoi can dip as low as 6–7 °C (43–45 °F) not including the wind chill, while summer can get as hot as 38–40 °C (100–104 °F).
Hanoi is the largest centre of education in Vietnam. It is estimated that 62% of the scientists in the whole country are living and working in Hanoi. Admissions to undergraduate study are through entrance examinations, which are conducted annually and open for everyone (who has successfully completed his/her secondary education) in the country. The majority of universities in Hanoi are public, although in recent years a number of private universities have started their operation. Than Long University founded in 1988, by some Vietnamese mathematics professors in Hanoi and France is the first private university in Vietnam.
Because many of Vietnam's major universities are located in Hanoi, students from other provinces (especially in the northern part of the country) wishing to enter university often travel to Hanoi for the annual entrance examination. Such events often take place in June and July. during which a large number of students and their families converge on the city around this intense examination period. In recent years, these entrance exams have been centrally coordinated by the Ministry of Education, but passing marks are decided independently by each university.
Hanoi, the cultural centre of the northern area, has rich food traditions and many of Vietnam's most famous dishes, such as phở, chả cá, bánh cuốn, cốm, bún chả, bánh tôm Tây Hồ (Shrimp cake) are thought to come from Hanoi. In Vietnam perhaps most widely known is Phở, a simple rice noodle soup often eaten as a breakfast dish in the home or at street side cafes, but also served in restaurants as a meal. This is the special traditional food of Hanoi. Two varieties dominate the Hanoi scene: Phở Bò, containing beef, and Phở Gà, containing chicken. Hanoi has been selected as the 2nd best city for food in the world by Shermans Travel. Vietnam's national dish Phở has been also named as one of the Top5 street food in the world by global post.
Hanoi hosts more cultural sites than any city in Vietnam, including over 600 pagodas and temples.
The Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem lake, has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specialized in a particular trade, such as silk traders, jewellery, etc. The street names nowadays still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs and bars can be found here also. A night market (near Đồng Xuân market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.
Some others prominent places are: The Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu), site of the oldest university in Vietnam 1070; One Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột); Flag Tower of Hanoi (Cột cờ Hà Nội). In 2004, a massive part of the 900 year old citadel was discovered in central Hanoi, near the site of Ba Dinh square.
A city between the rivers, built from lowland, Hanoi has many scenic lakes and sometime is called "city of lakes". Among its lakes, the most famous are Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, Halais Lake (Hồ Thiền Quang) in Vietnamese), and Bay Mau Lake. West Lake (Hồ Tây) is a popular place for people to spend time. It is the largest lake in Hanoi and there are many temples in the area. There are small boats for hire and a floating restaurant.
Under French rule, as an administrative centre for the French colony of Indochina, the French colonial architecture style became dominant, many examples remain today: The Grand Opera House, The State Bank of Vietnam (formerly The Bank of Indochina), The President Palace (formerly Place of The Governor-General of French Indochina), the cathédrale St-Joseph, and historic hotel Sofitel Metropole.
Moreover, Hanoi has many entertainment places such as Water Puppet theatre (Traditional theatre), sport centre (My Dinh National Stadium), Museums and shopping centre and so on.