For a relatively small country, about the size of Italy,
Vietnam’s geography is remarkably varied and complex.
It has a sizeable
mountain range in the northwest (an offshoot of the Himalayas),
heavily forested uplands, extensive limestone scenery with
several areas of mature ‘Karst’ landscape, an elevated central
plateau, two large river deltas and thousands of offshore
this makes life difficult for most of the 70% of the population
that still work the land, it has great benefits for visitors
in the form of a wide variety of landscapes.
Lush green paddy
patchworks, vertiginous mountain terracing, tea and coffee
plantations, pepper and pineapple fields, salt pans, flood
dykes and drainage canals: the ways in which the people have
adapted the land to agriculture with the beauty of the natural
landscapes for the photographers’ attention.
From a visitor’s
point of view, such geographical diversity is part of Vietnam’s
attraction. Icy mountain streams and boiling hot mineral springs,
sheer cliffs to challenge even the best rock climber, deep
caves and underground rivers, many unexplored, serene freshwater
lakes, white sand beaches – Vietnam has all this, and much
Vietnam’s wide range of fauna, flora and marine species places
it in the top ten countries for the variety of its bio-diversity.
Large National Parks, forests and marine coastal zones are
home to some of the most endangered species in the world,
and are often unique to Vietnam. Elephants, tigers, rhinoceros,
black bears, leopards, wild buffalo, primates, pythons and
crocodiles are some of the larger species still living in
Several of Vietnam's forests
and wetlands are rich in birdlife, with many rare species.
Aquatic and semi-aquatic species
include large pelagic fish and mammals, such as dolphins,
sharks, rays and the occasional whale. Turtles and dugongs
visit some of the more remote islands in the south. Corals
and marginal plant species such as mangroves and sea-grasses
can be seen in many locations.
Plant life varies from rhododendrons
and deciduous trees in the mountainous north, cactus plants
and pines in the dry central areas, dripping vines, exotic
orchids and ancient trees in the primitive forests, and lush
palms and fruits in the tropical south.
Vietnam is gradually being ‘tamed’. Flooding is being brought
under control, remote areas are being opened up and its inhabitants
provided with access to electricity and telephones. Virgin
forests, mountain areas and caves are being surveyed and recorded.
For the people who live in such areas, this is all to the
However, it's a slow process.
It will be a very long time before Vietnam loses its unexplored,
undeveloped and untamed qualities, and its considerable power
to surprise, charm, challenge, and excite its many visitors!