Red River Delta
Hong, the Red River, is northern Vietnam’s largest river.
It rises in China’s Yunnan province and flows 1,175 km southeast
through deep, narrow gorges to enter Vietnam and discharge
into the Gulf of Tonkin via a great delta. The silt it carries
is rich in iron oxide, making its water red and giving it
The Red River
delta is about 120 km long and 140km wide, and is expanding
an astonishing 100 metres a year. It is the economic centre
of northern Vietnam - Haiphong, Vietnam’s main port, lies
on a branch of the delta.
of water flowing down the river averages 500 million cubic
meters per second, but may increase by more than 60 times
at the peak of the rainy season.
entire delta region is no more than three metres above sea
level, and much of it is one metre or less. The area is
subject to frequent flooding: at some places the high-water
mark is fourteen metres above the surrounding countryside.
Dikes and canals protect the delta from the floodwaters.
A major highway
crosses the delta and the coastal strip beyond, an important
transportation route linking China and Vietnam.
fifteen million people inhabit the area, one of the highest
population densities in the world. Rice is the principal
crop of the delta, but wheat, beans, rapeseed, corn, and
subtropical crops are also grown.
the delta has produced a large number of skilled craftspeople.
The annual rice-growing cycle featured a period where farmers
left the land fallow, thus freeing them to pursue other
in a wide variety of crafts that ranged from the making
of conical 'non' hats to the production of lacquerware.
The tradition continues to the present day in the form of
Vietnam’s famous ‘craft villages’, mostly clustered in the
rural areas surrounding Hanoi and now major tourist attraction.