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Vietnam Geography

Vietnam geography

Vietnam stretches over 1600km along the eastern coast of the Indochinese Peninsula (from 8?34' N to 23?22' N). The country's land area is 326,797 sq km, or 329,566 sq km including water. This makes it slightly larger than Italy and a bit smaller than Japan. Vietnam has 3451 km of coastline and 3818km of land borders: 1555km with Laos, 1281km with China and 982km with Cambodia.

Vietnamese often describe their country as resembling a bamboo pole supporting a basket of rice on each end. The country is S-shaped, broad in the north und south and very narrow in the centre where at one point it is only 50km wide.

The country's two main cultivated areas arc the Red River Delta (15,000 sq km) in the north and the Mekong Delta (60,000 sq km) in the south. Silt carried by the Red River and its tributaries (confined to their paths by 3000km of dikes) has raised the level of the river beds above that of the surrounding plains. Breaches ill the levees result in disastrous flooding.

Three-quarters of the country consists of mountains and hills, the highest of which is 3143m-high Fansipan (or 'Phan Si Pan') in the Hoang Lien Mountains in the far northwest. The Truong Son Mountains (Annamite Cordillera), which form the central highlands, run almost the full length of Vietnam along its borders with Laos and Cambodia.

The largest metropolis is Ho Chi Minh City (usually still called Saigon), followed by Hanoi, Haiphong and Danang.


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