The Components of the Natural Environment


Map: Major Vegetation Zones


Color Key: Types of Vegetation

Secondary Forest and Bamboo Forest

Dense Evergreen Forest

Secondary Savanna

Dense Deciduous Forest and Clear Forest

Dry Mountain Formations


Artificial Reforested Area

Dense Evergreen Mountain Forest

Coastal Mangrove Forest & Secondary Mangrove Forest

Mixed Dense Forest and Clear Mountain Pine Forest

Agricultural Areas


  Map: Major Climatic Zones

Color Key:

Subequatorial Dry

Tropical Wet

Subequatorial Subdry

Tropical Subwet

Subequatorial Subwet

Subtropical Wet

Subequatorial Wet

Subtropical Subwet

Tropical Dry

Temperate Wet

Tropical Subdry



General Description:

Three-quarters of the country consists of mountains and plateaus which are an extension of the highlands of southern China and the Indochinese peninsula. A string of small plains in the narrow stretch of land between sea and mountains are found along the coast in the Center. The only fairly large plains occur in the deltas of the two large river deltas flowing into the South China Sea: the Song Hong (Red River) in the north and Cuu Long (Mekong) in the south.

The wide variations in climate are due to the mountainous relief, the difference in latitude and coastline extending 3,000 km from north to south: temperatures decrease with altitude while precipitation varies according to the influence of the monsoon rains. Although the hot and wet intertropical climate due to the summer monsoon predominates, eleven different climatic types can be identified, ranging from subequatorial dry to humid temperate climate.

The forest cover is also characterized by diversity, even though dense evergreen monsoon forests predominate. It varies from intertropical in the plains and piedmonts to subtropical in the mountains while woodlands and savannas predominate in the drier regions. Shifting cultivation, the exploitation of forests, and defoliation during the war have resulted in the development of increasingly sparse and xerophitic secondary formations.