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VIETNAM OVERVIEW

 

Location

  

 

Vietnam is located on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea, referred to as the East Sea. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam.  With a population of over 86 million, Vietnam is the 13th most populous country in the world.

History


The history of Vietnam begins around 2,700 years ago. Successive dynasties based in China ruled Vietnam directly for most of the period from 207 BC until 938 when Vietnam regained its independence .Vietnam remained a tributary state to its larger neighbor China for much of its history but repelled invasions by the Chinese as well as three invasions by the Mongols between 1255 and 1285. Successive dynasties flourished along with geographic and political expansion deeper into Southeast Asia, until it was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. Efforts to resist the French eventually led to their expulsion from the country in the mid-20th century, leaving a nation divided politically into two countries.

However, rather than peaceful reunification, partition led to the Vietnam War. During this time, the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union supported the North while the United States supported the South. After millions of Vietnamese deaths, the war ended with the fall of SaiGon to the North in April 1975. In 1986, Vietnam changed its economic policy and began reforms of the private sector similar to those in China. Since the mid-1980s, Vietnam has enjoyed substantial economic growth and some reduction in political repression, though reports of corruption have also risen.

By 2000, it had established diplomatic relations with most nations. Its economic growth had been among the highest in the world in the past decade. These efforts resulted in Vietnam joining the World Trade Organization in 2007.

Geography

 

Vietnam is a country of tropical lowlands, hills, and densely forested highlands, with level land covering no more than 20% of the area. The country is divided into the highlands and the Red River Delta in the north; and the Giai Truong Son (Central mountains, or the Chaîne Annamitique, sometimes referred to simply as "the Chaine."), the coastal lowlands, and the Mekong River Delta in the south.
The delta of the Red River is a flat, triangular region of 15,000 square kilometers, is smaller but more intensely developed and more densely populated than the Mekong River Delta.

The Red River, rising in China's Yunnan province, is about 1,200 kilometers long. Its two main tributaries, the Lo river and the Da river, contribute to its high water volume, which averages 4,300 cubic meters per second. The entire delta region, backed by the steep rises of the forested highlands, is no more than three meters above sea level, and much of it is one meter or less. The area is subject to frequent flooding; at some places the high-water mark of floods is fourteen meters above the surrounding countryside. For centuries flood control has been an integral part of the delta's culture and economy. An extensive system of dikes and canals has been built to contain the Red River and to irrigate the rich rice-growing delta.

The highlands and mountain plateaus in the north and northwest are inhabited mainly by tribal minority groups. The Truong Son mountain range (Annamite Range) originates in the Tibetan and Yunnan regions of southwest China and forms Vietnam's border with Laos and Cambodia. It terminates in the Mekong River Delta north of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).

These central mountains, which have several high plateaus, are irregular in elevation and form. The northern section is narrow and very rugged; the country's highest peak, Fansipan, rises to 3,142 meters in the extreme northwest. The southern portion has numerous spurs that divide the narrow coastal strip into a series of compartments. For centuries these topographical features not only rendered north-south communication difficult but also formed an effective natural barrier for the containment of the people living in the Mekong basin.

Central Highlands is a plateau within the southern portion of Vietnam. It has 51,800 square kilometers of rugged mountain peaks, extensive forests, and rich soil. Comprising 5 relatively flat plateaus of basalt soil spread over the provinces of Daklak, GiaLai, and KonTum.

The narrow, flat coastal lowlands extend from south of the Red River Delta to the Mekong River basin. On the landward side, the Giai Truong Son rises precipitously above the coast, its spurs jutting into the sea at several places. Generally the coastal strip is fertile and rice is cultivated intensively.

The Mekong Delta, covering about 40,000 square kilometers, is a low-level plain not more than three meters above sea level at any point and criss-crossed by a maze of canals and rivers

The Mekong, which is 4,220 kilometers long, is one of the 12 great rivers of the world. From its source in the Tibetan plateau, it flows through the Tibetan and Yunnan regions of China, forms the boundary between Laos and Myanmar as well as between Laos and Thailand. At PhnomPenh it merges with the Tonle Sap and divides into two branches - the Song Hau Giang (known as the Bassac River on the Cambodian side) and the Song Tien Giang - and continues through Cambodia and the Mekong basin before draining into the South China Sea through nine mouths known as the Cuu Long (nine dragons)

Weather and Climate


Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate, with humidity averaging 84 % throughout the year. However, because of differences in latitude and the marked variety of topographical relief, the climate tends to vary considerably from place to place. During the winter or dry season, extending roughly from November to April, the monsoon winds usually blow from the northeast along the China coast and across the Gulf of Tonkin, picking up considerable moisture; consequently the winter season in most parts of the country is dry only by comparison with the rainy or summer season. During the southwesterly summer monsoon, occurring from May to October, the heated air of the Gobi Desert rises, far to the north, inducing moist air to flow inland from the sea and deposit heavy rainfall.

Annual rainfall is substantial in all regions and torrential in some, ranging from 1,200 to 3,000 millimeters (47.2 to 118.1 in). Nearly 90 % of the precipitation occurs during the summer. The average annual temperature is generally higher in the plains than in the mountains and plateaus. Temperatures range from a low of 5 °C (41 °F) in December and January, the coolest months, to more than 37 °C (98.6 °F) in April, the hottest month. Seasonal divisions are more clearly marked in the northern half than in the southern half of the country, where, except in some of the highlands, seasonal temperatures vary only a few degrees, usually in the 21–28 °C (69.8–82.4 °F) range.

Because of its geography, the climate in Vietnam varies greatly from north to south.

During the north monsoon, northern Vietnam has cloudy days with occasional light rain, while southern Vietnam tends to be dry and sunny.
Temperatures are high all year round for southern and central Vietnam; but northern Vietnam has a definite cooler season as the north monsoon occasionally advects cold air in from China. Frost and some snow may occur on the highest mountains in the north for a few days a year. In the southern Vietnam, the lowlands are sheltered from outbreaks of colder northerly air and the dry season is warm to hot with much sunshine.

Northern Vietnam
Summer in the north is from May to October where temperatures are in the mid 30° with occasional heavy rains. In the winter, temperatures average in the low teens from December to March. February and March can be damp with drizzling rain and overcast sky.

Central Vietnam
Weather patterns in this region can vary due to the Truong Son mountain range situated in the northwestern part of the country. Nha Trang has periods of rain from November to December. While Da Lat, located in the interior, is cooler than the coastal regions from November to March. Da Nang and Hue may experience some typhoon activity from mid October to mid December when it is cooler, overcast and drizzly.

Southern Vietnam
The south is hot year round and has a wet and dry season. The wet season is from May to October where there are daily downpours that are brief and predictable. Considering that temperatures average in the low 30° (Celsius), rain showers can be a blessing in disguise and provide relief to the sweltering heat. The dry season from November to April is generally sunny and humid and can be uncomfortable if no precautions are taken for sun protection.

People


At present there are 54 different ethnic groups inhabiting Vietnam, in which Kinh (Viet) people make up nearly 90% of the whole population, and 53 other ethnic groups represent over 10%.

The Vietnamese nation was formed through a process of two major ancient cultures, the Chinese and the Indian. Thus a peculiar trait of Vietnam's culture was formed. As far as anthropology is concerned the Vietnamese people have their origin in the Mongolid race, believed to be one of the major or races of the world and often found in northern and eastern Asia.

54 different ethnic groups inhabiting Vietnam can divide eight different groups by the Vietnamese language:

- The Viet - Muong Group includes 4 ethnic groups: Chut, Kinh, Muong, Tho.
- The Tay - Thai Group includes 8 ethnic groups: Bo Y, Giay, Lao, Lu, Nung, San Chay, Tay, Thai.
- The Mon - Khmer Group includes 21 ethnic groups: Ba Na, Brau, Bru-Van Kieu, Cho Ro, Co, Co Ho, Co Tu, Gie Trieng, Hre, Khang, Khmer, Kho
   Mu, Ma, Mang, M'nong, O Du, Ro Mam, Ta Oi, Xinh Mun, Xo Dang, Xtieng.
- The Mong - Dao Group includes 3 groups: Dao, Mong, Pa Then.
- The Kadai Group includes 4 ethnic groups: Co Lao, La Chi, La Ha, Pu Peo.
- The Nam Dao Group includes 5 ethnic groups: Cham, Chu Ru, Ede, Gia Rai, Raglai.
- The Han Group includes 3 ethnic groups: Hoa, Ngai, San Diu.
- The Tang Group includes 6 ethnic groups: Cong, Ha Nhi, La Hu, Lo Lo, Phu La, Si La.

In the core of the history of national development, all these groups of people have been closely attached to one another in sharing the same tasks of fighting against foreign invaders, defending the country's territory, gaining the right to live and the right to national independence and self-determination. Each group of ethnic people have developed their own language and identity, thus making the Vietnamese culture, long known for its variety, a well blended combination of different cultures.


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