country of southeast Asia in eastern Indochina of the South
China Sea. Ruled by China from 221 B.C. to A.D. 939 and from
1407 to 1428, it was occupied by the French in the 19th century.
After the fall of the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu in
1954, it was partitioned into North Viet Nam and South Viet
Nam. The country was reunited in April 30, 1975 after the
end of the Viet Nam War. Hanoi is the capital and Saigon the
Three quarters of Vietnam's territory consists of mountains
and hills. Vietnam is divided into four distinct mountainous
The Northeastern Zone (Viet Bac)
This zone stretches from the Red River Valley to the Gulf
of Tonkon. The mountainous area of Viet Bac is scattered with
famous sights: Dong Nhat Grotto, Dong Nhi Grotto, and Tam
Thanh Grotto in Lang Son Province; Bac Bo Grotto and Ban Gioc
Waterfall in Cao Bang; Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan; Yen Tu Mountain
and Halong Bay in Quang Ninh; and Tay Con Linh, the highest
mountain peak in the region reaching 2,341 meters above sea
The Northwestern Zone
This zone is comprised of mountains that run from the north
of the Sino-Vietnamese border to the west of Thanh Hoa Province.
This magnificent mountain range is nationally known for its
resort town of Sapa in Lao Cai Province, which is perched
1,500 meters above sea level. Several ethnic groups, such
as the H'mong, Dao, Kinh, Tay, Giay, Hoa, and Xa Pho, still
reside in this region.
The northwestern zone is also famous for the historical site
of Dien Bien Phu and Fansipan Mountain, which measures 3,143
meters above sea level at the peak.
The North Truong Son Zone
This zone runs from the western part of Thanh Hoa Province
to the Quang Nam-Da Nang Mountains. This region is known locally
for its picturesque Phong Nha Grotto and its two breathtaking
passes, the Ngang Pass and the Hai Van Pass. It is also known
worldwide for being the location of the legendary Ho Chi Minh
Trail constructed during the second great resistance war.
The South Truong Son Zone
This zone is located to the west of the south central coast
provinces. Behind these huge mountains is a vast area of red
soil known locally as "Tay Nguyen" (the Central
Highlands). There are numerous legendary accounts of the flora
and fauna and of the lives of several different ethnic minorities
living in the Central Highlands. Dalat, established during
the 19th century, is a popular resort town in this part of
Vietnam has two major deltas, including the Red River Delta
in the North and the Mekong River Delta in the South.
The Red River Delta, or Northern Delta
This region stretches for 15,000 sq.km. Over time, deposits
of alluvium carried from the Red River and Thai Binh River
have accumulated to form the delta. The ancient Viet people
settled at the junction of the two rivers . At that time,
the wet rice civilization was established
The Mekong River Delta, or Southern Delta
This region is approximately 40,000 sq. km. The land is very
fertile and has favorable climate conditions for agriculture.
As a result, it is the largest rice growing region in Vietnam.
Vietnam is crisscrossed by thousands of streams and rivers.
There is a river discharging every 20 kilometers along Vietnam's
coastline. The waterways are a very convenient means of transport
with major rivers like the Red River in the north and the
Mekong River in the south.
Vietnam's coastline is 3,260 km long. If you have a chance
to travel along the coast of Vietnam, you will be able to
enjoy the beautiful beaches of Tra Co, Sam Son, Lang Co, Non
Nuoc, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, and Ha Tien. In some places, you
will see mountains jutting out to the sea. One such magnificent
site is Halong Bay, which has recently been two times listed
as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Vietnam's coast has been awarded a series of large seaports,
such as the ones at Haiphong, Danang, Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh,
Vung Tau, and Saigon. There are thousands of islands and islets
scattered offshore from North to South. Among the most popular
tourist destinations are the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa Archipelagos.
The forests of Vietnam account for most of the total land
area. National parks are preserved by the state and follow
a steady development plan. Some of the more famous national
parks located throughout the country include Ba Vi in Ha Tay,
Cat Ba in Haiphong, Cuc Phuong in Ninh Binh, Bach Ma in Hue,
and Cat Tien in Dong Nai.
Vietnam has a variety of mineral resources. Beneath the forests
are valuable minerals such as tin, zinc, silver, gold, antimony,
precious stones, and coal. Vietnam also has large deposits
of oil and gas on its offshore islands and on the mainland.
Vietnam also has abundant subterranean mineral water sources.
These are found at Quang Hanh in Quang Ninh, Hoi Van in Binh
Dinh, Vinh Hao in Binh Thuan, Duc My in Nha Trang, Kim Boi
in Hoa Binh, and Binh Chau in Vung Tau.
Land and Resources
Viet Nam occupies the easternmost part of the Indochinese
Peninsula, a rugged, elongated S-shaped strip of mountains,
coastal plains, and river deltas.
The soils of the Red River and Mekong River deltas, the two
major deltas of Viet Nam, are composed of rich alluvium except
where damming for flood control has altered the stream flow.
Soils in the uplands are poor as a result of leaching of nutrients
from the ground by the abundant rainfall.
The Red River in the north and the Mekong River in the south
are the two major freshwater streams. The Red flows almost
directly southeast from the northwestern highlands, whereas
the Mekong follows an irregular path from Cambodia, crosses
southernmost Viet Nam, and empties in the South China Sea
through a complex network of distributaries. Both rivers have
been leveed to prevent flood damage.
Vietnam is located in both a tropical and
a temperate zone. It is characterized by strong monsoon influences,
but has a considerable amount of sun, a high rate of rainfall,
and high humidity. Regions located near the tropics and in
the mountainous regions are endowed with a temperate climate.
The annual average temperature ranges from 22ºC to 27ºC.
In Hanoi, the average temperature is 23ºC, in Ho Chi
Minh City it is 26ºC, and in Hue it is 25ºC.
There are two distinguishable seasons. The cold season occurs
from November to April and the hot season from May to October.
The difference in temperature between the two seasons in southern
Vietnam is almost unnoticeable, averaging 3ºC. The most
noticeable variations are found in the northern provinces
where differences of 12ºC have been observed. There are
essentially four distinct seasons, which are most evident
in the northern provinces.
sq km (127,301 sq mi)
Si Pan; 3143 m (10,312 ft) above sea level
level along the coast
January 17° C 62° F; July 29° C 84° F
26° C 79° F; July 27° C 81° F
1680 mm (66 in)
1980 mm (78 in)
the E coast of the Indochinese Peninsula in SE Asia
on N, Laos, Cambodia on W.
Vegetation and Animal Life
Abundant vegetation exists throughout Viet Nam except where
the landscape has been denuded. Typical mixed stands in the
rain forests contain a wide variety of pines, broadleaf trees,
vines, and bamboos. Dense mangroves bordering the distributaries
of the deltas often hinder access to the water's edge. The
tropical rain forests are inhabited by large mammals such
as elephants, deer, bears, tigers, and leopards. Smaller animals,
including monkeys, hares, squirrels, and otters, are found
throughout the country. Reptiles such as crocodiles, snakes,
and lizards, as well as many species of birds, are also indigenous.
northern highlands of Viet Nam contain valuable minerals,
including iron, anthracite coal, phosphate, zinc, chromite,
tin, and apatite. Petroleum and natural gas deposits lie offshore.
Chay (San Chi)
The Vietnamese, related to the southern Chinese, constitute
the largest ethnic group in Viet Nam and account for about
88 percent of the total population; the remainder are members
of various ethnic groups. The size of the Chinese population,
while still the largest minority, has decreased sharply with
Vietnamese, the official language, is spoken by the majority
of the population (see Austro-Asiatic Languages). The use
of French, a remnant of colonial times, is declining. Some
Vietnamese people who live in urban areas speak other languages,
such as English and Russian. Khmer, Montagnard, and Cham are
spoken primarily in the interior. With the exodus of the Chinese
in the late 1980s, the once-common use of their language diminished.
Viet Nam contains a rich mixture of religions, reflecting
the influences of many cultures. Traditional Vietnamese religion
included elements from Indian beliefs and three Chinese religious
systems: Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. A majority
of adherents today follow Buddhism, including a wide variety
of sects. Other religions include relatively new sects such
as Hoa Hao, associated with Buddhism, and Caodaism, a synthesis
of Christianity, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Christianity,
particularly the Roman Catholic church, claims as many as
6 million followers. Religious groups have often played important
roles in the political development of Viet Nam.
The currency of Vietnam is the
dong (VND). Notes are available in paper denominations of
500,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 1,000, 500,
200 and 100 VND, and also in metal denomination of 5,000;
2,000; 1,000; 500; 200 d. Throughout the country, American
dollars are widely accepted. However, the bills must be relatively
new with no markings or tears. Several big cities are used
Euro currency. Traveler’s cheques are easily exchangeable
in banks. Credit cards are becoming more popular, especially
in the major hotels and restaurants of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh