Viet Nam - Geography and Environment
Water buffalo are used to plough rice fields
all over Viet Nam.
Photo: Keith Bernstein/Oxfam
Viet Nam forms a 1,000 mile long S shape. From the
mountainous north and the Red River delta a narrow central belt
snakes down to the fertile southern Mekong delta. Viet Nams
river deltas are some of the most densely-populated parts of the
world, and most of the nations food is grown in there, in
paddy fields. The Vietnamese often describe their country as a bamboo
pole with a rice basket on each end. The fertile paddy fields of
the two river deltas are the rice baskets at either end, and the
pole represents the narrow strip of land (sometimes only 50 km wide)
that links north to south. The strip is vulnerable to typhoons,
and a series of sea-dykes (six-metre-high earth banks) protects
villages from the worst weather.
In Viet Nam, heavy rain is
an expected part of life.
Photo: Jim Holmes/Oxfam
Viet Nams climate is very diverse. The mountainous north
can have cold and frosty mornings, while the Mekong delta wakes
up to equatorial sunshine. The people of Viet Nam rely on two monsoons
to grow their rice and crops. Monsoon rains are heavy and are usually
accompanied by strong, warm winds. The winter monsoon (November
to March) affects mainly the north of the country, and the summer
monsoon (April to October) brings rain and damp weather to the whole
of Viet Nam. Violent typhoons are also common, especially in the
middle of the country, near the port of Danang.
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