After the fall of South Vietnam to North Vietnamese forces in 1975, Vietnam has remained virtually isolated from the rest of the world. With the global political changes of the past 10 years. the Hanoi Government succeeded in reducing Vietnam's international isolation in part by attempting to open the country's door to foreign visitors. The country stretches along the eastern coast of the Indo-Chinese peninsula and is slightly larger than Italy. It is ‘S-shaped’, broad in the north and south and very narrow in the centre (Fig. 1). The country's main cultivated areas are the Red River delta in the north and the Mekong delta containing Ho Chi Min city (Saigon) in the south.
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