Vietnam


Vietnam Geography

Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam, officially called The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is situated on the eastern margin of the Indochinese peninsula. With a land border of 3,730 kilometers, Vietnam shares border with China to the North, with Laos and Cambodia to the west, with the South China Sea and the Tonkin Gulf to the east and with the Gulf of Siam to the South.

This location creates ideal and favorable conditions for national economic growth in general and the development of trade and tourism in particular. The mainland territory of Vietnam is an S-shaped land covering an area of over 329,241 square kilometers. From north to south, the territory of Vietnam extends for 1,750 kilometers, and its widest and narrowest territories are 600 kms and 50 kms wide, respectively. Vietnam possesses a long coastline with countless kilometers of ravishing beaches and stunning lagoons.

Stretching from the North to the South, Vietnam’s topography varies dramatically with emerald-green mountains, fertile deltas, tropical rainforests inhabited by many rare and precious species of fauna and flora, sinuous rivers, mysterious caves, surreal-looking rock formations, heavenly waterfalls and pristine white-sandy beaches.

The country can be divided into three main regions: the North, the Central and the South. The North includes three sub-regions: Northwest, Northeast and Red River Delta. Northwest is well-known for the fantastic scenery of Sapa, awe-inspiring valleys and picturesque terraced fields of Mai Chau, peaceful hill-tribe villages and stunning nature beauty of Lao Cai, etc. Northeast is endowed with the sublime beauty of Ba Be National Park, the spectacular rock-formations and alluring grottos of Halong Bay and the poetic, fresh, quiet beauty of Ban Gioc Waterfall. Red River Delta is a region of beautiful rice fields and limestone cliffs, ancient temples, and skillful local craftspeople. The region is also deemed to be the cradle of Vietnamese civilization some of the most valuable historical heritages in Vietnam.

Vietnam

Sapa

The Central of Vietnam is divided into two main sub-regions: North Central or North Central Coast and South Central which, in turn, includes South Central Coast and Central Highlands. North Central (Bac Trung Bo) contains six provinces in the northern half of Vietnam’s narrow central part. All provinces in this region stretch from the coast in the east to Laos in the west: Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa and Thua Thien Hue. South Central (Nam Trung Bo) contains seven coastal provinces and Danang city (centrally-controlled municipality) in the southern half of Vietnam’s central part: Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen, Ninh Thuan, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai. Central Highlands (Tay Nguyen) contains the five inland provinces of south-central Vietnam: Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lam Dong. Almost of this region is mountainous. While mostly inhabited by ethnic minorities, there are many Vietnamese living here. The Central which is home to many ethnic minorities, is characterized by high temperate plateaus rich in volcanic soil and by spectacular beaches, innumerable sand dunes and lagoons. Hoang Sa (island district belongs to Danang) and Truong Sa (island district belongs to Khanh Hoa) are two archipelagos rich in resources. The South of Vietnam includes two main regions: Southeast and Mekong Delta. Southeast (Dong Nam Bo) contains those parts of lowland southern Vietnam which are north of the Mekong Delta. There are five provinces, plus the municipality of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon): Ho Chi Minh City, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai, Tay Ninh. Mekong River Delta (Dong Bang Song Cuu Long) is Vietnam’s southernmost region, mostly containing small but populous provinces in the fertile alluvial delta of the Mekong River. There are twelve provinces, plus the municipality of Can Tho: Can Tho City, An Giang, Ben Tre, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Dong Thap, Hau Giang, Kien Giang, Long An, Soc Trang, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, Vinh Long.

Vietnam

Ong Pagoda in Cantho

Vietnam Climate

 Overall, Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate with high humidity of 84 % all year round. However, its stretching length and diverse topography allow it to span several different climate zones.

In the North, there are four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall while the South has only two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The Central has a harsh climate with natural disasters like drought and flood. Every year Vietnam has about 1,500-2,000 sunny hours with annual radiant heat over 100kcal/ cm2 and about 100 rainy days with annual average rainfall of 1500-2000mm.

Vietnam

Xa Loi Pagoda – Saigon

Vietnam Natural Resources

Vietnam has various natural resources including forest, sea and mineral resources. Vietnam’s forests are valued to be high diversity with rich fauna and flora.

In general, there are about 800 timber, 60 bamboo and over 1,500 medical plant species. The forest fauna includes 275 mammal, 826 bird, 100 amphibian and 180 reptile species. Especially, many rare and precious animals in Vietnam are on the World Red List.

In addition to huge potential energy sources like oil, natural gas, coal and hydropower, Vietnam is rich in other mineral sources, such as iron ore, copper, gold and building materials. Moreover, sea sources and agricultural potential also enrich Vietnam’s natural resources

Vietnam

Giac Vien Pagoda – Saigon

History of Vietnam

 Vietnam has undergone 4,000 years of history since ancient Vietnamese people founded our first country under the name “Van Lang” in 2879 B.C. Vietnam’s history is always depicted as a long and continuous struggle for independence and freedom. Vietnam was dominated by Chinese feudalists for over 1,000 years (111 B.C – 939 A.D). After that, Vietnam was French’s colony for nearly 100 years (1859-1945

During the World War II, Vietnam was occupied by Japanese troops and then French colonists. Vietnam declared independence on 2nd, September 1945. Not long thereafter, Vietnam has to plunge into the war to resist the plot of French to take control over Vietnam once again. This war lasted 9 years more and ended in 1954 when our contry was divided into two sections at 17 parallel. The North became the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under the leadership of Communist Party, while the South was influenced by the West, mainly by the United States.

Vietnam

Mai Chau overview

The intervention of America in Vietnam kept increasing in the 1950s and escalated into a full-scale war on March 1965 when the first American troop landed onto Vietnam. Although American troops withdraw completely from Vietnam on March, 1973 as Paris Treaty signed, the war continued until the South was completely liberated and the country named the Social Republic of Vietnam was reunified in January, 1976. However, the vestige of war lasted by 1979, Vietnam today is a country at peace.

Vietnam People

 According to reports recently released by the General Office of Statistics, Vietnam’s population has nearly reached 88,000 million people. Eighty percent of these are ethnic Vietnamese, while the remaining twenty percent comprises more than fifty separate ethnic groups.

Eighty five percent of Vietnam’s ethnic-minority population belongs to indigenous groups the largest of which are Thai and Hmong making their homes and livelihoods in the mountainous regions of the north and central highlands. About 3% of the population is ethnic Chinese living in the urban centers of the South.  

Among the many languages spoken in Vietnam are Vietnamese, Chinese, English, French, and Russian, Vietnamese is the national official language and the second language of ethnic minority groups. Besides, English as an international language has been widely used in many fields including economy, health, technology, tourism and so on.

For so many decades, Vietnamese people have reputation for their hospitability. Travelling to Vietnam, visitors will be warmly welcomed by friendly Vietnamese people.

Vietnam

Muong Ethnic

Vietnam International Relationships

 Before launching economic revolution policy, Vietnam mainly had diplomatic relationship with former Soviet Union and the countries in Socialist Bloc. Nowadays, thanks to open-door economic policies, Vietnam’s international relations have become more diverse.

The relation between Vietnam and China was normalized in 1991. In July 1995, Vietnam gained a historical turning point in diplomatic relation: Vietnam-USA diplomatic relation was fully normalized. In the same year, Vietnam became an official member of ASEAN, and it has signed a cooperation declaration with European Union. Now, Vietnam has had diplomatic relation with over 160 countries and trade relation with 120 countries and territories.

Vietnam

Vinh Long

Vietnam renewed the relation with international financial institution (IFI) and multi-credit organization like World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Vietnam has become a member of ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) since January, 1st 1996 and became a full member of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) from 1998. Vietnam has been admitted to World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2007. At present, Vietnam holds membership of 63 International Organizations and maintains relations with over 650 Non-Governmental Organizations worldwide. Through its activities, Vietnam has been playing an increasingly important role within the UN as a member of the UN Security Council, ECOSOC, UNDP, UNFPA and UPU Executive Councils, as well as in,  among others, the Non-Aligned Movement, Francophone and ASEAN.

Multilateral diplomacy has been a highlight in Vietnam’s external activities in the renewal era. Achievements in this respect have remarkably contributed to enhancing Vietnam’s international prestige.

Language

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, which is the mother tongue of the Vietnamese people who constitute 86% of Vietnam’s population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese. And it is the second language of the ethnic minority groups in the country. It is monosyllabic, with each syllable having six different tones that can change the meaning of the word. This makes it quite difficult for new learners. Beside the official language, each ethnic minority group has its own dialect that has been used and preserved in daily life.

 

Vietnam

Cai Rang Floating Market

The Vietnamese writing system in use today is an adapted version of the Latin alphabet, with additional diacritics for tones and certain letters. The different tones are indicated by the use of accent marks. This system of writing, called quoc ngu, was created by a French Catholic missionary, Fr. Alexander De Rhodes, in the 17th century to translate the scriptures. When France invaded Vietnam in the late 19th century, French gradually replaced Chinese as the official language in education and government. Vietnamese adopted many French terms, such as đầm (dame, from madame), ga (train station, from gare), sơ mi (shirt, from chemise), and búp bê (doll, from poupée). In addition, many Sino-Vietnamese terms were devised for Western ideas imported through the French. However, the Romanized script did not come to predominate until the beginning of the 20th century, when education became widespread and a simpler writing system was found more expedient for teaching and communication with the general population.

Food

Eating out in Vietnam ranges from street food to fine dining in luxury hotels. Though from anywhere, it cannot be denied that Vietnamese food is tasty and healthy. It is often made by different kinds of vegetables. Rice is the staple cereal and fish-sauce “nuoc mam” is extensively used. The most popular dish among the local people is the Phở – a noodle soup with meat, beef or chicken. The chicken soup (pho ga) or beef soup (pho bo) is quite spicy and available at all food stalls at US $0.60 per bowl. Pho Bo Tai is a soup with rare beef fillets. Another specialty is the spring roll, which is found in many versions, with varying ingredients used.

 

Vietnam

Hanoi Food

The menu in restaurants is mainly non-vegetarian with dishes made from pork, fish and beef, snake and soft-shell turtle, which is considered a delicacy. Chè is a dessert made from sticky rice, beans, and a seasonal fruit. International cuisine such as French, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and American is also available.

 

Fruit smoothies made from seasonal fruits are popular. Fruits such as custard apple, sugar apple, banana, avocado, durian, strawberry, jack fruit, passion fruit, dragon fruit, lychee and mango can be found in fruit stalls. You will need to clean the fruit thoroughly before eating.

 

It is also recommended that you buy bottled water rather than drinking tap water. Don’t miss out the bia hơi (meaning ‘beer gas’), as the Vietnamese call draught beer. Imported brands such as Carlsberg, San Miguel and Heineken are available along with local brands such as Tiger, Saigon, and 333 (pronounced “ba-ba-ba”).

 

Currency/ Money

The currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Notes are available in denominations of VND 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20, 000; 10,000; 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500; and 200 (less used now) hundred. Many tourists call Vietnam is a country of many thousand Dong.

 

Vietnam

The royal music in Hue

Coins have just recently been re-introduced and are available in 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500; and 200 Dong denominations. However, the State Bank has revoke all for some reasons.

 

The USD is less used in Vietnam’s cities. Tourists can exchange USD for VND when travel around Vietnam for personal expenses .

 

VISA, MasterCard and American Express cards are accepted in major hotels, restaurants, and shops in the urban areas. Travelers Checks are easily changeable at banks and moneychangers all over the country. Commissions are US$1 for a US$100 TC at Vietcombank, US$2 at ANZ Bank.

 

Vietnam

Cua Dai Beach in Hoian

Shopping

Vietnam is not exactly a shopper’s paradise, and the streets are awash with little shops selling all manner of items. You can do a lot of souvenir shopping in Hanoi, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is particularly excellent for visitors with shops selling clothes, gold, embroidered tablecloths and handbags. Around Hanoi have many handicraft villages, Good souvenirs are marble figurines and vases, ceramics from Bat Trang village, silk paintings from silk village, and hand-painted greetings cards. In particular, the lacquer ware, tailor-made ao dais (female national costume), mother-of-pearl inlay work, silk paintings, and wood block prints are very artistic and worth acquiring to take back home. The hill tribes of the Central Highlands and the north of the country now sell colorful woven bags and clothing. Ho Chi Minh City is also a good place to shop for jewellery, carpets and leather work.

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