Republic of Vietnam|
Vietnamese (official), English
(increasingly favored as a second
language), some French, Chinese, and
Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer
Buddhist, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Christian
(predominantly Roman Catholic, some
Protestant), indigenous beliefs, Muslim
Cambodia 1,228 km, China 1,281 km, Laos
| Map |
|Vietnam is a narrow elongated country in Southeast Asia with a huge coast of 3,444 km facing the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea. Vietnam is bordered by Cambodia and Laos to the west and by China to the north. The total land area measures 325,360 sq km with a further 4,200 sq km of water. The terrain of Vietnam is comprised of a low-lying delta in the far south, some central highlands and a series of mountains in the far north and northwest. The main river in the south of Vietnam is the mighty Mekong River that deltas out into the South China Sea in the far south, near to Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam is a country of verdant proportions, including heavy pockets of tropical forest that house a great number of interesting species of flora and fauna.|
The population of Vietnam is 81,098,416 of which almost 90% are of Vietnamese origin. The main religion is Buddhism although Vietnam has its own endemic religion, Cao Dai. This religion boasts Victor Hugo amongst its patron saints. Vietnam was once colonized by the French and there are many aspects of modern day Vietnam that show signs of colonial rule and its influence. The official language is Vietnamese although English and French are both widely spoken. The capital of Vietnam is in fact Hanoi in the far north, although Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south is the country's largest metropolis. The national unit of currency is the Dong although US Dollars are unofficially accepted as well.
Vietnam is a poor country and is still recovering from war. 67% of the population works within agriculture, producing crops such as rice, corn, potatoes, rubber, soybeans, coffee, tea, bananas and sugar. In fact, Vietnam has been amongst the greatest rice producing nations in the world, producing more than enough to feed the country. Vietnam's biggest export partner is Japan. The transport network of Vietnam is represented by 3,142 km of largely French-built railways and 93,300 km of highways, although only 23,418 km are paved.
Vietnam's climate ranges from being hot, humid and tropical in the south to temperate in the north. The areas of higher elevations experience a cooler climate as well. The rainy season runs from March to September and the dry season from October to March. Typhoons occasionally spoil Vietnam's landscape.