The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is located close to the centre of the Southeast Asian region. Its mainland frontier amounts to 4,510km, of which 1,306km are adjacent to China to the north, 2,067km to Laos to the west, and 1,137km to Cambodia. Vietnam looks over the Pacific ocean to the east and south.
Vietnam is an S-shaped country with 331,690 sq km of land area and 1,000,000 sq km of seawaters. It has nearly 400 small and large islands, of which Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) are the largest archipelagos. Vietnam is divided into three geographical regions.
The northern region of Vietnam consists of two main parts, namely the mountainous region and the northern plain. The northwest mountainous region with various mountains and highlands runs from northwest to southwest(from the border between Vietnam, China, Laos to Thanh-Nghe-Tinh mountainous region) with Phansipan (Hoang Lien Son range), the highest peak in Indochina with 3,143m. This region is nationally known for its resort town of Sapa in Lao Cai province, perched 1,500m above sea level. Several ethnic groups such as the H'mong, Zao, Kinh, Tay, Giay, Hoa, and Xa Pho live in this region. The northeast mountainous region, well-known for the historical site of Dien Bien Phu, stretches from the Red River valley to the Gulf of Tonkin. This region is also called Viet Bac which is scattered with famous sights such as 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 Can; Yen Tu mountain and Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh; and Tay Con Linh, the highest mountain peak in the region reaching 2,341m above sea level. The Northern plain or the Red River Delta covers 15,000 sq km. Over the passage of time, alluvial deposits carried from the Red River and the Thai Binh River have accumulated to form the delta. The junction of the two rivers was where the ancient Viet people settled. Since then, the wet rice civilization has been established.
The central part of Vietnam is a narrow region covering a mixture of mountains, hills, rivers and coastal plains. The Truong Son range runs along most of the country's length, with soil formed from granite and basalt. The northern part of Truong Son runs from the western part of Thanh Hoa province to the Quang Nam-Da Nang mountains. This region is known widely for its picturesque Phong Nha Grotto and its two breath-taking passes, the Ngang and Hai Van Passes. It is also famous worldwide for the site of the legendary Ho Chi Minh trail that was blazed during the anti-US war of resistance for national liberation. The southern part of Truong Son is located on the western side of the central coastal provinces. Behind the huge range of mountains lies a vast region of red soil calleld "Tay Nguyen" (the Central Highlands). There are plentiful and diverse varieties of flora and fauna and several ethnic minorities living in the Central Highlands. Dalat is a noted popular resort town, established at the end of the 19th century.
The southern region is less complicated in term of geographic structure, with some low hills and mountains near the Central Highlands and the western region of Kien Giang province. The rest is the Dong Nai River delta and the Cuu Long (Mekong) River delta, the latter is the largest river basin in the whole country. These two deltas form the southern delta which measures approximately 36,000 square kilometres. The land is very fertile and the climate is propitious for agriculture. As a result, it is the largest rice granary in Vietnam.
Generally speaking, the geographical features in Vietnam are rather complicated. Three quarters of Vietnam's territory consists of mountains and hills. The rest of it is the two vast plains. Vietnam is also crisscrossed with thousands of streams and rivers. On an average, there is an estuary for every 20-km section along the coast. 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 stretches 3,260km long, which is one of the most typical geographical features of Vietnam. The beaches of Tra Co, Sam Son, Lang Co, Non Nuoc, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, or Ha Tien are most famous for their unspoilt natural beauty. In some places, there are a lot of mountains jutting out to the sea. One such magnificent place is Ha Long Bay, which has recently been listed as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. Vietnam's coast has also been awarded a lot of large sea ports such as the ones at Hai Phong, Da Nang, Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh, Vung Tau, and Sai Gon. Besides, Vietnam is known for its tremendous tropical forests which account for most of the total land area. National parks are preserved by the State and follow a steady development plan. Some of the famous national parks that are spread throughout the country include Ba Vi in Ha Tay, Cat Ba in Hai Phong, Cuc Phuong in Ninh Binh, Bach Ma in Hue, and Cat Tien in Dong Nai. In addition, Vietnam has a variety of mineral resources, which can contribute to the national economic development. 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 in its offshore islands and on its land area.
Vn- style - (26/12/2005)