A Portrait of Vietnam



A Portrait of Vietnam

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Lush green mountains, scenic beaches, ancient pagodas, and the allure of a fascinating culture attract millions of visitors to Vietnam each year. The country emerged from the 1990s as an increasingly prosperous nation, with a strong tourism industry, largely due to economic reforms and an effort by its people to rebuild after the war and move further away from Communist principles that have stifled the nation. Bounded by the warm waters of the South China Sea, Vietnam is in the southeastern corner of the Indochinese pen in sula. To the country’s west are Laos and Cambodia, separated from Vietnam by the Annamite Mountains or the Truong Son Range, while to the north lies the great bulk of China. Vietnam itself is long and thin – just 31 miles (50 km) wide at its narrow est – with an extensive coastline stretching from the Gulf of Tonkin in the north to the Gulf of Thailand in the south. The Vietnamese generally divide their country into three regions. In the north, dominated by the charming capital Hanoi and hemmed in by mountains on three sides, is the fertile Red River Delta. The long central part of Vietnam is marked by several scenic beaches, the former imperial city of Hue, the mercantile town of Hoi An, and the large port city of Danang, along with remnants of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). In its lower half, it broadens and is home to the highlands around Pleiku and Dalat. In the far south lies burgeoning Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s commercial hub, and the Mekong Delta. Characterized by palm trees and numerous canals, this bucolic region is the country’s largest riceproducing belt. Vietnam’s geographical diversity is reflected in its people, and the nation is home to 54 recognized ethnic groups. The largest, Viet or Kinh, constitute 86 percent of the nation’s 94 million people and live mainly on the coastal plains and in the delta regions.

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