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  Geography

Lao Cai - more than a "fairyland"

With 203 kilometres of border with China, Lao Cai is a borderland in north west of Vietnam. Lao Cai, the starting point of the Red River in Vietnam, abounds with grandiose mountains, such as Phan Xi Pang, 3,143 metres high, the highest in Vietnam, Ta Giang Phinh, 3,090 metres, and Phu Luong, 2,983 metres, all containing rich natural resources. So far, 35 types of minerals of high economic value have been mined from Sinh Quyen copper mine, Qui Xa iron mine, Cam Duong apatite mine, and others.

Lao Cai is home to 16 ethnic groups who live closely and are friendly with one another. They are the Viet, Muong, Khang, Mong, Dao, La Chi, La Ha, Hoa (Xa Phang), Ha Nhi, Phu La (including the Xa Pho), Tay (including the Pa Di and Thu Lao), Thai, Nung, Giay, Bo Y and Lu. Each group has its own treasure of typical and unique culture and folklore.

Lao Cai boasts Sa Pa resort, built a hundred years ago which is well known for its ecological tourist sites, both natural and man-made, such as Ham Rong (Dragon⦣8364;™s Jaw) Mountain, Bac (Silver) Waterfall, May (Cloud) Bridge, Ta Phin Cave, Muong Hoa stone ground, Muong Vi complex of grotto and caves, Coc San Stream and Waterfall and Bac Ha and Si Ma Kai markets, which attract 250,000-500,000 visitors from 50 countries a year.

The province is renowned for Tam Hoa and Hau plum trees which beautify the forests and mountains with white blossoms, dozens of precious pharmaceutical plants very good for health and disease treatment, colourful brocade items made by the Thai, Dao and Mong ethnic people; Ban Pho and San Lung alcohol which is crystal clear, tasty and delicious; and the Ta Chai xoe dance.

Lao Cai is not only a ⦣8364;œfairyland⦣8364; for sightseeing and discovery.

This northwest borderland has experienced many hardships and difficulties, renovated its thinking and working ways and obtained great achievements. We invite you to visit Ban Ho, Ta Van and Lao Chai Hamlets located on high ground where you can see the terraced rice fields of the Dao and Mong ethnic people, which yield 10-14 tonnes of rice per hectares. Formerly, these ethnic groups lived a nomadic life, burning the forests and chopping down trees for cultivation. In 2001, Lao Cai province achieved a record output of food, afforested 1,400 hectares, planted 402 hectares of fruit trees and 2.3 million trees, and preserved and grew 138,000 hectares of old forest.

In Ta Loong of Cam Duong Town, the Lao Cai Apatite Company put into operation a production line producing yellow phosphorus (an essential chemical which previously had to be imported for the chemical sector) and increased the annual capacity of the plant from 300,000 tonnes to 520,000 tonnes. Visiting Ho Kieu border gate, which has many newly-built projects, you will see many automobiles and trains busily carrying import and export goods. In 2001, the trade of import and export goods increased more than double over the previous year, helping the local industry reach a growth rate of 6.65% and see foreign investment increase 49.7%.

Visiting Sa Pa, located on an area 1,500 metres above sea level you will have a chance to contemplate Phan Xi Pang Mountain amidst the floating clouds, travel through the forests of beautiful apricot flowers, go to an enchanting love market and enjoy a cup of wine made from herbal plants with grilled meat of wild beast. Although turnover of the provincial tourism sector in 2001 increased 6.65% over the previous year, this number does not match the great potential that nature endowed to this land.

There remain no small numbers of things that Lao Cai people are not satisfied with and they must make greater efforts to solve. So far, only one-eighth of the districts and 137 out of 180 hamlets and wards have received primary education, and 14 hamlets and wards are with secondary education. But more than 70% of the households have eradicated hunger and poverty. The achievements that the province has reached since its re-establishment 10 years ago is a firm foundation and an impetus for the province to advance forward with faster speed.

VNCG-VDC1 - (06/05/2004)


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