Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost nation on the Indochinese Peninsula.
It borders China to the north, Laos to the northwest, and Cambodia to the southwest. On the country's
east coast lies the South China Sea. With a population of over 85 million, Vietnam is the 13th most
populous country in the world. The country is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies; according
to government figures GDP, growth was 8.17% in 2006, the second fastest growth rate among countries
in East Asia and the fastest in Southeast Asia.
Most visitors to Vietnam are overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of the country's natural setting: the Red River
Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and almost the entire coastal strip are a patchwork
of brilliant green rice paddies tended by women in conical hats.
There are some divine beaches along the coast, while inland there are soaring mountains, some of which
are cloaked by dense, misty forests. Vietnam also offers an opportunity to see a country of traditional
charm and rare beauty rapidly opening up to the outside world.