Vietnam Research Projects – Vietnam
Joseph Kozera, Luke Webster and Texas Packer

Geography -
Who are Vietnam neighbours?
The neighbours of Vietnam, as described by this map, are China, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.
These four countries help Vietnams trade, economy, resources and alliances. Though these countries have not always been peaceful with each other they still manage to unite when not in war.

China, who is by far the biggest neighbour, has artefacts dating back 2.24 million years. This is a strong country with much poverty. It is formed of mainly plateaus and mountain ranges starting from the west leading downwards to lower ground in the east.60px-Flag_of_China.png

Laos, which runs down the westwards or inland coast of Vietnam, was made its own country in the 19th century. Its population has skyrocketed in the last decade.laosflag.gif

Thailand, which lies on the southwest side of Laos, has a large population, which exceeds that of Laos. It has a GDP of $519.9 billion dollars making it one of the richer countries surrounding Vietnam.flag-thailand.gif

Cambodia, which lies along the south of Thailand and Vietnam, has a population near 13 million. The GDP is just reaching $36.82 billion making it one of the poorer countries in the area. flags_of_Cambodia.gif

What are the major environmental issues within Vietnam and the neighbouring countries?
Vietnam – Logging and other practices there contribute to soil degradation and deforestation. Water pollution and overfishing in marine areas threaten the marine animals and populations. Groundwater is polluted further limiting the amount of drinkable water. Growing industries and population migration are affecting the environments and towns of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Laos – Deforestation and soil erosion affect most places here. Most towns and communities have little or no access to drinkable water.
Thailand – Air pollution from vehicle emissions. Water pollution from organic or factory waste. Wildlife population is threatened by illegal hunting in the area.
Cambodia – Illegal logging throughout the country and strip mining for gems down near the border of Thailand has resulted in a massive loss of biodiversity throughout Cambodia. In particular the destruction of the mangrove swamps threatens the fisheries. In most of the rural areas there is no clean water to drink and there is now becoming a shortage of fish through illegal fishing and overfishing.
China – There is a lot of air pollution in china, from green house gases, which commonly produces acid rain. There are water shortages and also a lot of dirty water from untreated waste. There is a lot of deforestation. Estimated losses of 20% of agriculture since 1949 to soil erosion and other factors. There is also trade of endangered species on the black market.

What are the 5 major import and exports of Vietnam and its neighbours?
Laos – Imports: machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods.
Exports: wood products, coffee, electricity, tin and copper.
Cambodia – Imports: petroleum products, cigarettes, gold, construction materials and machinery
Exports: clothing, timber, rubber, rice, fish
Thailand – Imports: capital goods, intermediate goods and raw materials, consumer goods, fuels
Exports: textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice
Vietnam – Imports: machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products
Exports: crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber
China – Imports: machinery and equipment, oil and mineral fuels, plastics
Exports: machinery, electrical products, data processing equipment, apparel, textile

Which country, of Vietnam and its neighbours, has the biggest landmass?
China is the obvious first choice for biggest landmass. It contains and area of 9598086 km^2. This is the third biggest landmass in the world.
Next is Thailand with an area of 513115 km^2. This is the 49th largest landmass in the world.
Vietnam ties in third with an area of 331690 km^2. This is the 65th largest landmass on the list.
Laos comes next with a total area of 236800km^2. This is the 83rd biggest landmass.
And last is Cambodia. The area of Cambodia is 181035km^2. This is the 89th largest landmass.

What are the main ‘shape’ or geographical structure of Vietnam and its neighbours?
Cambodia – The rainy season in Cambodia brings with it a new season for rice cultivation. Cambodia is mainly flat except when it borders other countries and reaches the sea. About 75% of the population lies on or below 330feet above sea level.
Laos – This is a thick-forested country. It is land locked and mainly consists of rugged mountains and some plateaus. The highest point above sea level is 9242 feet and that is Mt Phou Bia.
Thailand – Thailand is home to several different geographic regions. The North Country is mountainous. The northeast country consists of the plateaus. The central country is mainly dominated by flat land. The highest point above sea level is 8415 feet and that is on Doi Inthanon.
Vietnam – Vietnam has a very unique environment. It only has around 20% flat grounds and the rest is made up of rocky-mountains or hills and then tropical rainforests cover the area too. The highest point is 10312 feet above sea level, Phan Xi Pang. The Mekong River is also a consistent feature through Vietnam.
China – China has a large variety of landscapes. In the east they have extensively populated alluvial plains. Southern China is dominated by hill country. In central-east china rivers run wild. To the west are the major mountain ranges.

References –
CIA – World Fact book

History –
How long do Vietnam and its neighbours date back?
Vietnam – Vietnam was have thought to have been born in the late Neolithic period and the early Bronze Age. This was between 2000 – 1400 BCE. In 1200 BCE Vietnam had started to develop into a civilisation with a love for agriculture.
China – Archaeological evidence uncovered suggests that the Chinese civilisation has been around since 2.24 million years ago. This means china was one of the earliest developed civilisations on the earth.
Cambodia – Cambodia appeared in the 1st millennium AD and was one of the most advance civilisations around. During the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries the Cambodian empire expanded creating the area we know as Cambodia today.
Thailand – Thailand is thought to have been inhabited by humans for around 10000 years or some time in the Palaeolithic period.
Laos – Laos’s history is closely related to that of a man named Lan Xing. Founded in the 14th century by Fa Ngum. The kingdom flourished until the 18th century when it was divided into three parts, which eventually came under Siamese rule.

How many wars has the country experienced and when?
Vietnam – Vietnam experienced the first and second Indochinese wars taking part in both. The first from 1946 – 54, the second from 1968 – 1976. The second Indochinese war was mainly a civil war with the north fighting the south. After these wars there was the Cambodian – Vietnamese war and the Sino – Vietnamese war. (1979)
China – China hasn’t participated in wars as such rather a cultural revolution. This revolution cause major upheaval in China. This movement was led by Mao Zedong who once he died cause the end of the revolution.
Cambodia – After having been a minor roll in World War II and a state of neutrality during the civil war Cambodia was a peaceful country. Although once the Khmer Rouge movement came about Vietnam invaded Cambodia to stop the movement. This is a major battle of Cambodia as many Vietnamese and Cambodians were killed.
Thailand – Thailand has only been a minor part in wars only participating in World War II becoming an ally of the Japanese forces for some time.
Laos – Laos has participated in World War II and was unwilling dragged into the Vietnamese war. The only war Laos has been willing to fight in was the 1962 – 75 Laotian Civil war. This war was between two sectors called the Royal Lao Government and the Communist party, Pathet Lao.

When did each country obtain independence?
Vietnam – Vietnam obtained independence from France on the second of September 1945.
China – China has almost always been an independent country.
Cambodia – Cambodia obtained independence from France on the ninth of November 1953.
Thailand – Thailand has almost always been an independent country.
Laos – Laos obtained independence from France on the nineteenth of July 1949.
Above you see that the majority of these countries gained their independence from the French. This is because France had claimed most of the countries around Vietnam and making a bigger country called Indochina.

What is the cultural history of these countries?
Vietnam – Vietnam’s culture has been most strongly influenced by it’s neighbouring country China. For many decades other foreign influences were shunned and the majority of the culture was based around the sharing culture of the communist countries such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and others. In the early 1990’s though cultures from other countries started to come into Vietnam. Now Vietnam has much more exposure to the cultures of Europe, America and South-east Asia.
China – China’s religions have roots to other philosophies such as Confucianism and conservatism. There also some other roots but these are much less prominent. Such things are legalism. In Chinese culture it is believed that calligraphy and forms of writing are more artistic than dance, music or drama. There was often conflict between the philosophies on which the culture was based.
Cambodia – Khmer culture, which was developed and spread by the Khmer empire and by Khmer Rouge himself, prevails in Cambodia. It has distinctive styles of dance, architecture and sculpting, which have greatly influenced the surrounding countries of Laos and Thailand.
Thailand – Thailand’s culture has been influenced by other cultures from India, China, Cambodia and the rest of South-east Asia. The main theology here is Theravada Buddhism. In some areas of Thailand Islam is prevalent. Many different ethnic groups are spread throughout Thailand some of which cross the borders into other countries.
Laos – Theravada Buddhism is the dominant influence in Laos’s culture. This culture is reflected all throughout the country by the language and the temple art. It is also prominent in the art, literature and performing arts spread through the country. Many elements of Lao culture are related to Buddhism but many other elements are prehistoric.

What are the governments like in these countries? Have there been any major happenings?
Vietnam – The socialist republic of Vietnam is a single-party state. Although the state remains officially to socialism it is a communist government with no other parties allowed in government or to force an election if they are not communist. The nation assembly in Vietnam is one of the dominating powers here with all of the courts answering to it. Although the Vietnam War destroyed the economy so badly it is now starting to recover through the religion of Doi Moi.
China – The People’s Republic of China is still a communist state, which means that there is little freedom in people’s lives. The PCR is regarded as an Authoritarian, Communist and Socialist state it is much less restrictive as it used to be. But the PCR is still a long way from a democratic state. The Chinese economy has developed faster than any we have ever seen over the past 25 years average 9.4% growth a year.
Cambodia – In Cambodia the government is run on a constitutional monarchy. The prime minister of Cambodia is the head of the government but then the king of Cambodia is the head of state. This has been happening since 1993. The king on advice elects the prime minister from his throne room. Cambodia’s economy is on the grow. It grew by 10.8% last year. This must mean that they are doing something right.
Thailand – Since the reform of the political monarchy in Thailand there has been 17 constitutions. Throughout this time the government has ranged from military dictatorship to electoral democracy but all the governments have acknowledge one figure that is head of state. Thailand is a newly industrialised country. After enjoying the highest growth rate awhile back there have been some slips in the economy. Thailand has recently started to recover due to its exports.
Laos – The Lao government is a communist government. The country has been decentralised and relies on private enterprises for support. The results of the private enterprises dominating in Laos have been remarkable. The growth rate have been increased to 6% Major urban centres have had the most growth with many of the economies within Laos are booming. The Lao economy is heavily reliant on it’s richer neighbours.