Vietnam is a tropical country with a central tropical rainforest. It shares borders with China on the north and with Laos and Cambodia on the west. The South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean lie on its eastern and southern sections. The S-shaped country measures about 128,000 square miles and spans the eastern side of the Indochina Peninsula.
Vietnam geography and climate
Vietnam is a lush tapestry of fertile deltas, winding rivers, lofty mountains, tropical lowlands, pristine forests, intriguing rock formations and caves, spectacular beaches, and breathtaking waterfalls. Its primordial jungles are home to exotic animals.
Central Vietnam is known for its natural ponds, dunes and dazzling beaches. Its high plateaus have irregular forms and elevations and are rich in volcanic soil. The ancient imperial city of Hue can be found in this region. The northern part is the location of the historic Hanoi, Red River Delta, Halong Bay, Cao Bang and Vinh Yen plains, and alpine peaks. It is home to a diverse mix of ethno-linguistic minorities. The modern Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong River delta are located in the Southern part of Vietnam.
The main rivers in Vietnam are the Red River and the Mekong River. The principal rivers traversing Vietnam are the Ca, Han, Ma, Thach Han, and Thu Bon on the center, the Red and Thai Binh in the north, and the Dong Nai and Mekong in the South.
The Red River, also known as Song Hong, is 1,200 km long. The Lo River and the Clear River are the two main contributors to its high water volume, which frequently causes frequent flooding specially during rainy seasons. An extensive network of canals and dikes help control the Red River and route excess water to the rice-planted delta.
The Mekong River is about 4,220 kilometers long and is listed among the great rivers of the world. It originates from the Tibetan plateau and flows through the Yunnan and Tibet sections of China, divides into two separate paths below Phnom Penh, goes on to Cambodia, flows through the Mekong basin, and drains into the South China Sea. It forms the boundary between Burma and Laos and between Thailand and Laos.
Although it is entirely located in the tropics, Vietnam has varying climate and temperatures as a result of the diversity in the altitude, latitude and weather patterns. Variations in rainfall mark seasonal changes in the country’s different regions.
Northern Vietnam experiences a cold humid winter in the months of November to March while the rest of the year is marked by a warm yet rainy summer. The rainy season lasts from April to October. Temperature fluctuates significantly in the Red River Delta areas on a daily basis dropping to as low as 5°c during the dry season and reaching an average of 30°c during the rainy season in the Hanoi region. Average summer temperature is 5°c. Typhoons occasionally hit the country during the summer months.
Southern Vietnam share the Souths’ tropical, generally warmer weather. The southwest monsoon brings heavy rains and hot, humid weather from April to September. June and July are marked by rough seas, poor weather and some flooding.
The Truong Son mountain range protects the coast line of Central Vietnam from the heavy rains brought by the southwest monsoon from April to September; hence, it is less wet than other parts of Vietnam. The situation is reversed, however, between September and December when it receives heavy rains brought by the northeast monsoon. Severe storms often hit the coast from August to November causing flood, crop damage and loss of lives.