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Vietnam

Highlights in Vietnam

Geography of Vietnam

Vietnam is an elongated coastal state in the east of the mainland of Southeast Asia. The country borders on China, Laos, Cambodia, the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. The north-south extension of Vietnam is about 1,650 km. While the east-west width in the north of the country is up to 500 km, it is only 50 km at the narrowest point in Central Vietnam. The coast extends over a length of more than 3,400 km. The two most important cities in the country are the capital of Hanoi and the port city of Ho Chi Minh City which was the capital of the Republic of Vietnam under its old name Saigon until 1975.

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Geomorphology/Geology

While in the north and south of Vietnam the two fertile river deltas of the Hong River and the Mekong are located, the central part of the country is rather barren and dominated by mountains and forests. About 75% of Vietnam's territory consists of mountains and plateaus. In general, five landscapes can be distinguished:

  • Yunnan Highlands: mountainous landscape in the north of Vietnam on the border to China, this is also the location of Fansipan, the highest mountain of the country with about 3150 m

  • Hong River Delta: a fertile region around Hanoi whose tourist attractions include the limestone cliffs around Ninh Binh and Halong Bay as well as the Vietnamese capital

  • Central highlands: mountainous and sparsely populated backcountry of central and southern Vietnam

  • Coastal lowlands: narrow, yet relatively densely populated coastal strip between the mountains and the South China Sea in central and southern Vietnam

  • Mekong Delta: fertile, densely populated alluvial plain; the economic centre of Ho Chi Minh City is also located here

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Travel Tips and Trivia for Vietnam

Climate in Vietnam

The climate of Vietnam depends strongly on whether you are in the northern or southern part of the country. The north is characterised by a subtropical alternating climate, with a hot season from May to October and a cooler season from November to April. The annual temperatures range between 15°C and 33°C.

The south, however, is tropical. It is warm to hot all year round, with November to January usually being comparatively cooler. Temperatures are about between 21°C and 35°C. Between May and October there is also a rainy season which is often accompanied by strong typhoons.

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Flora and Fauna in Vietnam

Vietnam is characterised by an incredibly high biodiversity.

More than 14,000 different plant species can be found in the country, about 10% of which are endemic. After those in the Amazon region, Vietnam's mangrove forests are the largest in the world. Because of their unique natural features, Ha Long Bay and Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are about 30 other national parks in the country.

Vietnam's fauna includes about 120 amphibian, 260 reptile, 850 bird and 7750 insect species. More than 1400 species of microalgae and almost 2500 species of fish live in the waters off the coast. Vietnam is also home to about 310 mammal species, including tigers, the Asian elephant, sun bears, marbled cats, and various species of primates, even-toed ungulates, bats and rodents. Only in recent decades, other new species were described, including the Edwards's pheasant, the saola, the giant muntjac and the highly endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. Due to ongoing forest destruction, however, Vietnam's flora and fauna is under severe threat.

Social Geography of Vietnam

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