Vietnam Geography

By | May 3, 2021

Vietnam is comparable to Germany with a population of approx. 96.2 million and an area of approx. 330,000 km². After almost thirty years of uninterrupted war (1946-1975), Vietnam has experienced rapid growth since the introduction of market reforms (“đổi mới”) in 1986.

Country overview

Vietnam, which belongs to mainland Southeast Asia, stretches for approx. 1700 km from north to south and resembles an S. It has a coastline of 3444 km. The area is 330,000 km and the population is around 96.2 million (April 2019 census). The annual population growth is 1.14% (April 2019 census).


The Vietnamese are a very history-conscious people. Everywhere in the cities and in the country you can find memorials that commemorate historical events and personalities. The pre-colonial history of Vietnam was largely determined by its large neighbor in the north – China.


According to aristmarketing, Vietnam has experienced rapid economic development since the reform policy began, from which a large part of the population has benefited. Particularly impressive successes have been achieved in the fight against high poverty.


Vietnamese society and culture have been subject to massive changes since the reform policy was introduced in 1986. At the same time, however, a revival of certain Vietnamese traditions can be observed.

Everyday life

The introduction of economic reforms in the mid-1980’s also opened up the country. Vietnam has now become a popular travel destination.

Official name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Area: 329,560 km²

Residents: 97.0 million (2018, estimated)

Growth of population: 0.9% (2018, estimated)

Seat of government: Hanoi

Official language: Vietnamese

Regional languages: Ethnic minority languages, Chinese

Vietnam is located in mainland Southeast Asia and covers an area of around 330,000 km² from the Red River Delta in the north to the Mekong Delta in the south. It borders China, Laos and Cambodia.

  • 2001 administrative map
  • physical map from 2001
  • Map of Vietnam with road network (to enlarge – in English or Vietnamese)
  • Railway network
  • Map of Vietnam showing the level of risk of climate change in each region

Country impressions

Vietnam is a country with diverse landscapes and countless natural beauties. Impressions of the diversity of nature and the culture of Vietnam are conveyed by the pictures of

  • Hanoi and the Northern Provinces
  • Central Vietnam with Hue and Hoi An
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Mekong Delta

Basic data

Basic data on Vietnam can be found in the CIA Factbook and the Country Study Vietnam.

The introduction of UNDP Vietnam contains important data on the development of Vietnam. The ” Country Profile ” of the UN and the country information from the Federal Foreign Office and the websites of the World Bank and the Federal Statistical Office are also very informative.

Natural conditions

The climate in Vietnam is divided into two parts. North Vietnam has a subtropical climate with four seasons like ours. This is where the similarities with the continental European climate end. When the temperature in North Vietnam drops to 10 degrees in winter, it can feel colder than -10 degrees in our latitudes, because the damp cold in Vietnam “goes to the bones” (as a Vietnamese proverb goes). In South Vietnam, on the other hand, there is always a tropical warm climate with alternating rainy and dry seasons.

The geography of Vietnam is also determined by the multitude of rivers (Red River, Mekong) that are used, among other things, for energy generation (construction of dams). However, some of these projects are controversial because they not only cause environmental damage, but also require the resettlement of the local population.

The Mekong Delta has struggled with increasing salinity and drought in recent years. In 2016 the Mekong reached its lowest level since 1926. Salinisation is not only a consequence of climate change, but also a “homemade problem”. For example, the construction of industrial zones in the Mekong Delta has led to new ecological problems.

During the typhoon period, especially in parts of central Vietnam, floods often occur, which are often associated with fatalities, for example in June 2011. In October 2013, at least 5 people were killed in one of the most violent typhoons since 2006 in central Vietnam. Around 120,000 people had to be evacuated. After Vietnam got off lightly in November 2013 in Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated entire islands in the Philippines, another typhoon resulted in 28 deaths a few days later; 80,000 people had to be evacuated.

About a quarter of the country is forested. The jungles of Vietnam are characterized by a rich flora and fauna – with many animal species, some of which are rare, but some are threatened.

Most of the ethnic Vietnamese settle in the two large delta areas – the Red River Delta in the north with the capital Hanoi and the Mekong Delta in the south with Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, on the northern edge. The Truong Son Mountains (also known as the “Annamite Cordilleras”) stretches from north to south, some of which extend to the South China Sea. The coastal strip is therefore very narrow, especially in central Vietnam.

Vietnam has a number of mineral resources. The most lucrative raw material is the oil deposits in the South China Sea. The north in particular is richly blessed with its coal and iron ore deposits. In addition, there are also phosphate, bauxite, manganese, tin, gold and tin deposits in north and central Vietnam.

Lang Co peninsula in Central Vietnam