330,991 square km
Vietnam lies on the eastern seaboard of the Indochina Peninsula. It borders China to the north and Laos and Cambodia to the west. To the east and south lies the South China Sea, which the Vietnamese call the East Sea. Mountains and hills cover four-fifths of Vietnam\'s territory with the Truong Son range stretching over 1,400km. Mount Fansipan (3,142m) is the highest peak in Southeast Asia.
The most populated areas in Vietnam are the lowland alluvial plains: the Red River Delta (15.000 sq. km, with a 3,000km-long dyke network) in the north, and the Mekong Delta (22,000 sq. km) in the south. Vietnam\'s two biggest rivers, the Red River and the Mekong River, respectively discharged,109 cubic meters and 1.4 million cubic meters of water. Vietnam\'s 3,260km-long coastline features beautiful beaches like Tra Co, Lang Co, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, and Ha Tien. National parks include Ba Vi, Cat Ba and Cuc Phuong in the north, Bach Ma in the center and Cat Tien in the south.
Minerals: coal, iron, aluminum, tin and oil. Agricultural and forestry
Agricultural and forestry products: Rice, maize, sweet potatoes, peanuts, soy beans, rubber, lacquer, coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton, coconut, sugar cane, jute, and tropical and subtropical fruits.
Vietnam is essentially a tropical country with a humid monsoon climate. The annual mean temperature is over 20 degrees Celsius throughout the country (Hanoi 23.4 C, Hue 25.1 C, Ho Chi Minh City 26.9 C).
In July, the average temperature in Hanoi is 28.6 C. in Hue it is 28.9 C, and in Ho Chi Minh City, 27.6 C. Lowland areas receive around 1,500mm of rain per year, while mountainous areas receive 2,000mm to 3,000mm. Humidity can reach 90 percent in the rainy season.
Vietnam has two seasons: cool and dry from November to April and hot and rainy from May to October. The difference between summer and winter temperatures is dramatic in the north (varying up to 20 degrees Celsius). The south is warm all year round, with seasonal variations in temperature averaging just three degrees Celsius.
Vietnam has four major cities (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong and Danang) and 57 provinces.
Vietnam\'s history may be divided into five periods:
Prehistory: There is evidence of human settlements in northern Vietnam as far back as 500,000-300,000 BC. In the third century BC, King An Duong founded Au Viet.
Chinese occupation: Northern Vietnam was occupied by China from 189 BC to 939 AD.
Independence: Local kings ruled the area from 939 to 1860 AD.
French colonialism: The French colonized Vietnam from 1860 to 1945.
Independence: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam was founded after the 1945 revolution, when President Ho Chi Minh declared independence.
There are 54 ethnic groups living in Vietnam. The Viet, or Kinh, people account for 88 percent of Vietnam\'s population and are mostly concentrated in the lowlands. In contrast, most of the country\'s 5.5 million ethnic minority peoples live in mountainous areas. Major groups include the Tay (960,000 people); the Nung (152,000 people); the Thai (770,000 people); the Muong (700,000 people); the H\'mong (441,000 people); the Zao (340,000 people); the Hoa (930,000 people); the Khmer (720,000 people); the Bana (100,000 people); the Giarai (184,000 people); and the Ede (140,000 people).
The three main religious influences in Vietnam are Buddhism, Confucianism and Ancestor Worship.
Vietnamese Languages and scripts
More than 80 percent of the population speaks Vietnamese or Kinh/Viet, the national language. Many ethnic minority people speak Kinh and their own native language. Three scripts have influenced Vietnam\'s history:
Han Chinese ideograms were used until the beginning of the 20th century.
The Norn script, created between the 11th and 14th centuries, was derived from Han script to transcribe the Vietnamese language.
European missionaries in the 17th century developed quoc ngu, the Romanised transcription of the Vietnamese language used to this day.