Area and geographical features
Vietnam covers 330,000 sq km. It shares borders with China,
Cambodia and Laos. It has 3,200 km of coastline. There
are two main cultivated areas - the Red River Delta (15,000
sq km) in the north and the Mekong Delta (60,000 sq km)
in the south. Three quarters of the country consists of
mountains and hills. The highest point is Phan Si Pan,
in the far north-west Hoang Lien Son mountains. 25% of
the country is afforested and 21% under cultivation. The
forests have been badly depleted by over-exploitation.
Its geographical co-ordinates are 16 00 N and 106 00 E.
There is an estimated population of 81.6m (2003) with
an annual growth rate of 1.7%. Life expectancy is set
at 69 years and the illiteracy rate is 6%. Source: World
Development Indicators database, April 2003
Major business cities and towns
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam with a population of
3.5 million. Government ministries, aid, agencies and
embassies are located here. It is also the political
and cultural capital but is second to Ho Chi Minh City
in terms of commerce. Noi Bai International is 38km
from the city centre.
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) has a population
of 508 million. It is the commercial and industrial
capital of Vietnam. Tan Son Nhat airport is only a few
kilometers from the city centre. Sai Gon seaport is
the biggest in Vietnam.
Hai Phong City has a population of 1.8 million. It is
a major seaport close to the Gulf of Tonkin and 102km
from Hanoi. It has only a domestic airport but still
ranks third in terms of the destination of foreign investment.
Da Nang City has a population of 500,000. It has a modern
sea and airport and is an entry point for central Vietnam.
It is a major industrial centre.
The Mekong Delta region plays a central role in supplying
food to the rest of the country.
A temperate climate in the North with four distinct seasons
(Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn). Tropical in the South
with a wet and dry season. The wet season is from May
to October while the dry season occurs from November to