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Vietnam

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam covers 329, 566 square Kilometers or 128,527 square miles of the eastern Coast on the Indochinese Peninsula. The population is about 75 million with a growth rate of 2.3%. In Vietnam's Capital, Hanoi, there are approximately 1 million inhabitants. There is not great ethnic diversity in Vietnam, the populations is basically broken up between 85% ethnic Vietnamese, 3% ethnic Chinese. The rest of Vietnam's ethnic population is made up of some 60 groups of highlanders or as the French refer to them, Montagnards. There are several major languages in Vietnam: Vietnamese, French, Chinese, and English. The major religion in Vietnam is Buddhism the minority religions include Taoism, Confucism, Hoa Hao, Muslim, and Christianity. The Socialist Republic is governed under the Communist People's Republic where Tran Duc Luong, the President and Prime Minister, Vo Van Kiet enforce the laws of the country.

Vietnam borders Cambodia, Laos, and China. The countries two main cultivated areas are the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong Delta in the south. Three-quarters of the country is mountainous and hilly; the highest peak is the 10,309 ft high Fanipan in northwest Vietnam. Vietnam has a rich wildlife population. It is in decline because of the illegal hunting and destruction of habitats. These include elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, leopards, black bears, monkeys, crocodiles, and turtles. There are five national parks which preserve wildlife and the rainforests of Vietnam. They include; Cat Ba, BA Be Lake, Cuc Phoung, Bach Ma, and Nam Cat Tien. The average temperature at sea level is 81 degrees F in the south and 70 degrees F in the north.

Popular artistic forms include; traditional painting on frame-mounted silk, an eclectic array of theater, puppetry, music and dance, religious sculpture, and laquerware. The Vietnamese cuisine is an art in itself. There are over 500 different traditional dishes. These dishes range from exotic bat and cobra to purely vegetarian creations. Traditional Vietnamese coffee is also very well known.

The health risks in Vietnam consist of Dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, rabies, typhoid, and tuberculosis. There are approximately 650,000 tourists in Vietnam per year. The monetary currency in Vietnam is Doing. The exchange rate for one US dollar is approximately d15,290, a budget meal is 1-2 US$. It is virtually impossible to exchange foreign currency outside the major cities and tourist areas. There are no good or bad seasons to visit Vietnam and every temperature is represented in the country at the same time.

There are many ways to get around Vietnam. Slow and overcrowded buses run just about everywhere in the country at rock bottom rates. It is, however, very uncomfortable and frustrating. The alternative to the public bus are the public minibus. These cost more but are much more comfortable and appeal more to the tourists of Vietnam. Train travel tends to be even slower and less efficient than the public bus. Petty thief is a big problem on trains especially in the budget class. It is possible to hire cars and drivers but this is a very inefficient way of travel because of the traffic and constant stoppage by the police. There are two very popular alternative to these modes of transportation, bicycles and motorcycles. These constantly crowd the streets and congest traffic even more.

     
   
   
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