OR/18/068 Data for land use, population and housing

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Bide, T P, Brown, T J, Petavratzi, E, and Mankelow, J M. 2018. Vietnam – Hanoi city material flows. Nottingham, UK, British geological Survey. (OR/18/068).

The website for the General Statistics Office for Vietnam (GSOV) includes a number of datasets relating to land use, population and housing. This part of the scoping study examined the content and resolution of these datasets to see which ones were available at city scale (as opposed to regional or national scale) and to determine whether they could be combined together in a useful way to inform calculations for material demand and/or supply. Past trends in statistics can also be used to inform projections for future demand and supply scenarios.

Land use[edit]

The GSOV website includes a dataset for ‘Land use by province’ which includes area figures in thousand hectares divided between different categories. These figures are available for the whole country, for regions (e.g. Red River Delta) and at city level (e.g. Hanoi) and it is assumed these figures represent the area of land currently in use for the different purposes specified at the given date. However, the specified sub-categories do not sum to the ‘total area’ column (see). In addition, the meaning behind some of the sub-category descriptions are not clear, e.g. ‘Specially used land’.

Table 3    Land use by province and cities (as of 31 December 2015). Unit: Thousand hectares.
Total Area Agricultural production land Forestry land Specially used land Homestead land Sum of 4 sub-categories Difference to Total Area
Whole country 33 123.1 11 530.2 14 923.6 1 839.2 698.6 28 991.6 4 141.5
Red River Delta 2 126.0 799.0 494.4 313.8 143.9 1 751.1 374.9
Hanoi 335.9 157.1 22.3 62.8 40.1 282.3 53.6

In an attempt to clarify the headings, a series of tables entitled ‘Land Use Survey 2000’ was consulted on the GSOV website. These tables were only available in Vietnamese and translated using Google Translate. The main headings were shown as: Agricultural land, Forestry land with forests, Specialised land, Landscape and Unused land with rivers and rocky mountains. There was no category for homestead land.

Within the heading of ‘specialised land’, the sub-categories were land for construction, transport, irrigation, historical relics, security and defence, exploiting minerals, brick and tile, making salt, cemetery and ‘other’. This seems to suggest that it is primarily industrial uses but there are other industrial uses that would seem to be missing, such as manufacturing factories. The ‘landscape’ category was further divided into ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ which is confusing because the agricultural and forestry land is also presumably ‘rural’ while many industrial processes would typically take place in an ‘urban’ setting.

Because there is no correlation between other studies on the website and the data shown in Table 3, further information from the GSOV or other contacts in Vietnam is required before this dataset could be used.


The GSOV website includes several datasets relating to population numbers, the split between ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ population, and population density. Figure 7 shows the annual population numbers for Vietnam with a split between urban and rural residents. The growth in the urban population is clearly seen (and amounts to 114 per cent between 1995 and 2016) while the numbers of rural Vietnamese residents has levelled off (the increase is only 6 per cent between 1995 and 2016). The population of Hanoi is also shown in this figure for comparison purposes. In 2016 the city contained 8 per cent of the total Vietnam population although population has grown by 55 per cent between 1995 and 2016.

Figure 7    Population numbers in Vietnam split between urban and rural areas; population numbers for Hanoi are also shown for comparison. Data sourced from GSOV.

Interestingly, Hanoi is not the fastest growing city/province in Vietnam (Figure 8) and in terms of overall numbers Hanoi has been overtaken by Ho Chi Minh City (Figure 9).

Figure 8    Population growth between 1995 and 2016 by city or province in Vietnam. Data sourced from GSOV.
Figure 9    Population numbers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from 1995 to 2016. Data sourced from GSOV.

With regards to population density, this can easily be calculated by dividing the number of persons by the area, but this is actually unnecessary because the GSOV website also provides these figures in table format. It is not surprising to find that Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are the two most densely populated parts of Vietnam, but in reality Ho Chi Minh has a population density that is almost double that of Hanoi (Figure 10), Hanoi and Ha Tay have been combined to take into account the 2008 boundary change expanding Hanoi). Plotting population numbers against areas of cities and provinces clearly shows the population density of these two major cities. The next three largest cities/provinces in terms of population have larger surface areas (Figure 11).

Figure 10    Population density by city or province in Vietnam in 2016. Data sourced from GSOV.

Note: The individual provinces and cities are clustered by Region in Figure 10. “N.mids & mts” is Northern Midlands and Mountain Areas; “N.Cent & C.Coast” is Northern Central and Central Coastal Areas; “C.Hlds” is Central Highlands; “S.East” is South East; “Mekong R.Delta” is Mekong River Delta.

Figure 11    A plot of average population by area for each city and province in Vietnam in 2016. Data sourced from GSOV.

Note: Darker blue diamonds are Red River Delta region; red squares are Northern Midlands and Mountain Areas; green triangles are the Northern Central and Central Coastal Areas; purple circles are the Central Highlands region; paler blue diamonds are the South East region; and orange circles are the Mekong River Delta region.


The GSOV website includes data for the quantity of housing floors constructed by region in each year and also some details of the types of housing that people are occupying at city and province scale.

All regions have seen increases in the quantity of ‘housing floors’ constructed per year in the period from 2007 to 2015 (Figure 12). The largest increase is in the Central Highlands where the quantity of housing constructed in 2015 was 122 per cent higher than in 2007. The Northern Midlands and Mountain Areas region was close behind with 118 per cent, followed by the Mekong River Delta with 110 per cent and the North Central and Central Coastal areas with 103 per cent. Hanoi is located in the Red River Delta region which saw the lowest comparative figure of 48 per cent. Ho Chi Minh is located in the South East region which had the second lowest figure of 49 per cent. These figures, however, do hide some variation from year to year as seen in Figure 12 and overall a greater quantity of housing floors was constructed in the Red River Delta region than in other regions in every year apart from 2008 and therefore the greatest demand for construction materials for housing.

Figure 12    Quantity of housing floors constructed per year by regions of Vietnam. Data sourced from GSOV.

Looking at the data for types of housing, the GSOV figures are divided into four categories: ‘permanent house’, ‘semi-permanent house’, ‘less-temporary house’ and ‘simple permanent house’. The precise definitions behind these terms are unknown but Figure 13 shows that the region with the highest percentage of households living in a ‘permanent house’ is the Red River Delta region (92.9 per cent of households), including Hanoi. In contrast, the Mekong River Delta has the lowest proportion of households with permanent houses (9.2 per cent of households) and the South East region, including Ho Chi Minh, is not much higher (18 per cent of households).

Figure 13    Housing types for Vietnam by city/province and region. Data sourced from GSOV. Data for percentage of permanent housing is shown for each region for comparison purposes.

Figure 13 would suggest that the greatest opportunity for construction materials supply would be in the Mekong River Delta region where the lowest proportion of households have a ‘permanent house’, followed by the South East region and the Central Highlands region. However, the Mekong River Delta region has the lowest overall percentage of population growth of only 14 per cent compared to the South East (77 per cent) or Central Highlands (68 per cent) which have the highest.

Estimating housing floors construction at city level[edit]

The data for quantity of housing floors constructed is only available from the GSOV at regional level, but combining these data with population growth figures enables an estimate to be made at city level for Hanoi. Starting with the data for the area of housing floors constructed in the entire Red River Delta region and using the average population per year to calculate a population growth in that year, it can be calculated that the area of housing constructed per person ranges from 90 m2 to 120 m2 per year. Over the 2010 to 2015 time period this averages at 103 m2 per person. Next a population growth for Hanoi can be calculated from the average population per year and applying the average square metres of housing floors for the Red River Delta region to this reveals that between 9.3 and 16.7 million m2 of housing floors needs to be constructed in each year in order to provide for the increased population (the calculations are set out in Table 4).

Table 4    Calculations for estimating area of housing floor construction required in
Hanoi by the population growth in 2010 to 2015.
Red River Delta 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Area of housing floors constructed (square metres) 17 391 000 23 993 000 22 619 000 18 841 000 22 345 000 21 618 000
Average population (persons) 19 618 100 19 851 900 20 066 100 20 274 900 20 481 900 20 705 200
Population growth (persons) 144 400 233 800 214 200 208 800 207 000 223 300
Area of housing floors constructed per person in population growth (square metres) 120 103 106 90 108 97
Average area of housing floors constructed for each person in population growth (square metres) 103
Hanoi 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Average population (persons) 6 472 000 6 633 600 6 761 300 6 865 200 6 977 000 7 095 900
Population growth (persons) 90 200 161 600 127 700 103 900 111 800 118 900
Estimate of area of housing floor construction required for population growth (square metres) 9 322 179 16 701 376 13 197 808 10 738 075 11 554 541 12 288 327

There is no information available to confirm whether or not this was actually built. The average area of housing floors constructed per capita could also be applied to future projections of population growth to indicate future requirements for housing floor construction.

If data were available describing the quantities of materials needed for a ‘typical’ house in Hanoi then these could also be applied to the figures in Table 4 to estimate the quantities of materials needed to house Hanoi’s growing population. However, these figures would need to include not just the materials needed to build the house but also for the utilities that service the ‘typical’ house and also allow for other types of construction including workplaces, transportation links, etc. There are published studies that do quote typical material use for urban development but none specific to Vietnam, figures are given for Taipei, Malaysia and China in Huang et al. (2013)[1], Klufallah et al. (2014)[2] and Fernandez (2007)[3].


  1. HUANG, T, SHI, F, TANIKAWA, H, FEI, J L, and HAN, J. 2013. Materials demand and environmental impact of buildings construction and demolition in China based on dynamic material flow analysis. Resources Conservation and Recycling, Vol. 72, 91–101. <Go to ISI>://WOS:000317172600011
  2. KLUFALLAH, M M, NURUDDIN, M F, KHAMIDI, M F, and JAMALUDIN, N. 2014. Assessment of carbon emission reduction for buildings projects in Malaysia-A comparative analysis. E3S Web of Conferences, EDP Sciences, Vol. 3.
  3. FERNANDEZ, J E. 2007. Resource consumption of new urban construction in China. Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 11, 99–115