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VIETNAM

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din 03 Martie 2006

Vietnam, a nation located along the eastern coast of mainland Southeast Asia, has had a turbulent history.Emerging as a distinct civilization during the first millennium BC, Vietnam was conquered by China during the early Han dynasty and subjected to 1,000 years of foreign rule.In AD 939 the Vietnamese restored their independence and gradually expanded southward along the coast from their historic homeland in the YUAN (Red) River valley.

In the 19th century Vietnam was conquered once again and absorbed, along with neighboring Cambodia (now Kampuchea) and Laos, into French INDOCHINA. Patriotic elements soon began to organize national resistance to colonial rule, however, and after World War II,Communist-led Viet Minh guerrillas battled for several years to free the country from foreign subjugation.

In 1954, at the GENEVA CONFERENCE, the country was divided into Communist-led North Vietnam and non-Communist South Vietnam. For the next 20 years, both North and South Vietnam were involved in the VIETNAM WAR.That conflict came to an end when Communist forces from the north occupied Saigon (now HO CHI MINH CITY) in April 1975.

Today, the Vietnamese government is attempting to lead the entire nation to socialism. But domestic unrest and foreign-policy problems, compounded by renewed tensions with China over the Vietnamese occupation of Kampuchea, keep Vietnam a garrison state.

LAND AND RESOURCES
Vietnam, is shaped like a giant letter "S", extending some 1,600 km (1,000 mi) from the Chinese border to Point Ca Mau (Baibung) on the Gulf of Thailand. At its widest, it reaches a width of about 560 km (350 mi). In the narrow center, it it less than 50 km (30 mi) wide.

Much of Vietnam is rugged and densely forested. A chain of mountains called the Truong Son (Annamese Cordillera) extends more than 1,287 km (800 mi) from the Yuan River delta east of HANOI to the Central Highlands south of Laos.For much of that distance, these mountains form the border between Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia.The highest point in the country, Fan Si Pan, rises to 3,143 m (10,312 ft) in the mountainous northwest, near the Chinese border. Poor soils and heavy rains make the mountainous areas relatively unsuitable for agriculture.

The large deltas of the Yuan River in the north and the MEKONG RIVER in the south are rich in alluvial basaltic soil brought down from South China and inner Southeast Asia and have abundant water resources and favorable climate that make them highly suitable for settled agriculture, particularly the cultivation of wet rice.

In the Yuan delta, the climate is subtropical, ranging from 5 deg C (41 deg F) in winter to more than 38 deg C (100 degF) in summer.The Mekong delta is almost uniformly hot,varying from 26 deg to 30 deg C (79 deg to 85 deg F)throughout the year. The monsoon season extends from early May to October, and typhoons often cause flooding in northern coastal areas.

Most of Vietnam's hardwoods and wild animals (including buffalo, elephants, and rhinoceroses) are found in the mountains. In the north are deposits of iron ore, tin,copper, apatite (phosphate rock), and chromite. Coal,mined along the coast near the Chinese border, is an important export and the main source of energy, although rivers are being harnessed for hydroelectric power and the government is attempting to exploit modest oil reserves in the South China Sea.

PEOPLE
Vietnam is one of the most homogeneous societies in Southeast Asia. Although more than 60 different ethnic groups live in the country, ethnic Vietnamese constitute nearly 90% of the total population and are in the majority throughout the country except in the mountains.The Vietnamese are descended from peoples who settled in the Yuan delta area more than 3,000 years ago and later moved southward along the coast into the Mekong delta.They speak Vietnamese, which exhibits many similarities to other tongues spoken in the region but is sometimes considered a separate language group (see SOUTHEAST ASIAN LANGUAGES).

The so-called overseas Chinese, descended from ethnic Chinese who migrated into the country during the 17th and 18th centuries, settled for the most part in large cities and became involved in commerce, manufacturing, fishing, and coal mining.During the traditional and colonial periods, the Chinese were placed under separate administration. Recent governments, however, have attempted to assimilate them.Thousands of ethnic Chinese fled abroad in 1978 in the wake of a government decision to nationalize commerce and industry in the south; about 2 million reportedly remain in the country.

Tribal peoples, including the MEO (Hmong) and the MONTAGNARDS, number about 3 million. Descended from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, they live primarily in the Central Highlands and in the mountains of the north,where they practice SLASH-AND-BURN AGRICULTURE. Other smaller groups are the KHMER (about 500,000) and the Cham (about 50,000...

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