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Vietnam Information - Page 1
Geography
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is in Southeastern Asia and is bordered by Cambodia, Laos, China, the Gulf of Tonkin, the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

Hanoi, in the north, is the capital city and Ho Chi Minh City, in the south, is Vietnam's largest city.

Much of Vietnam is hilly and mountainous. The terrain is low and flat in the delta regions of the north (Red River Delta) and the south (Mekong Delta).

The climate is temperate in the north and tropical in the south.

Environment
The diverse flora and fauna of Vietnam is protected by a system of National Parks and Nature Reserves. National Parks include Ba Vi National Park, Cat Tien National Park and Yokdon National Park. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a World Heritage site, is the oldest karst area in Asia and contains interesting caves and underground rivers.

Ha Long Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, also on the World Heritage List, has numerous islands and a seascape of limestone pillars.

Architecture
Traditional Vietnamese architecture includes stilt houses, built to protect against floods, and low buildings with thatched roofs. These types of homes can be seen in the villages of Vietnam today.

Historical sites in Vietnam are on the World Heritage List. These are the Mon Son Sanctuary (the capital of the ancient Champa Kingdom), Hoi An Ancient Town (a trading port) and the Complex of Hue Monuments.

Hue was the capital of Vietnam from the early nineteenth century until 1945 and is the location of the Thien Mu Pagoda, one of Vietnam's most famous pagodas.

Population
The estimated population of Vietnam was 88,576,760 in 2009.

Languages
Vietnamese is the official language. English is increasingly used as a second language.

Religion
Buddhism (fused with Confucianism and Taoism) is the major religion in Vietnam. Hoa Hao and Cao Daism are indigenous religions and some people have animist beliefs. Other religions are Christianity and Islam.

Ancestor worship is an important influence in Vietnamese culture.

Food
Rice is the staple food in Vietnam. Soup with rice noodles is a national dish.

Recipes for main meals make use of vegetables, meat and fish. Herbs and spices used in food preparation include basil, coriander, lemon grass, mint and black pepper. Other ingredients are garlic, onions, ginger and lime juice. Hot peppers are popular. Fish sauce is used in many recipes and as a sauce to accompany food.

There are a numerous types of noodles eaten at all times of the day. Noodle and rice based snacks wrapped in rice paper or leaves are available.

Desserts include a variety of cakes and fresh fruit: bananas, durians, guavas, jackfruit, mangoes, oranges, persimmons and pineapples.

Popular drinks are tea, coffee and beer. The local spirit is rice wine.

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