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The conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by Communist forces under Ho Chi MINH. Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the Communist North and anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under Communist rule. Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies, the persecution and mass exodus of individuals - many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants - and growing international isolation. However, since the enactment of Vietnam's "doi moi" (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The Communist leaders, however, maintain control on political expression and have resisted outside calls to improve human rights. The country continues to experience small-scale protests from various groups - the vast majority connected to land-use issues, calls for increased political space, and the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. Various ethnic minorities, such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region, have also held protests.


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Geography

Location
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia

Geographic coordinates
16 10 N, 107 50 E

Map references
Southeast Asia

Area World Ranking: 66
Total 331,210 sq km
Land 310,070 sq km
Water 21,140 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly larger than New Mexico

Land boundaries
Total 4,639 km
Border countries
Cambodia 1,228 km, China 1,281 km, Laos 2,130 km

Coastline
3,444 km (excludes islands)

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Contiguous zone 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone 200 nm
Continental shelf
200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate
Tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)

Terrain
Low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest

Elevation extremes
Lowest point South China Sea 0 m
Highest point Fan Si Pan 3,144 m

Natural resources
Phosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower

Land use
Arable land 20.14%
Permanent crops 6.93%
Other 72.93% (2005)

Irrigated land
46,000 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
891.2 cu km (1999)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 71.39 cu km/yr (8%/24%/68%)
Per capita 847 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta

Environment - current issues
Logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices contribute to deforestation and soil degradation; water pollution and overfishing threaten marine life populations; groundwater contamination limits potable water supply; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
Signed, but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
Extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point


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  Vietnam (Hanoi):


  GPS points from Vietnam (Hanoi)

B'ja Da Noh Vietnam (general)

Xom Cay Sop Tinh Long An

Duong Thau Tinh An Giang

Mangiep Vietnam (general)

Ap Xuan Duong Vietnam (general)

Plei Xieu Vietnam (general)

Phu Nam La Vietnam (general)

Suoi Hanh Vietnam (general)




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