Mekong Delta

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{{about|the geographical region|the German heavy metal band|Mekong Delta (band)}} [[Image:VietnamMekongDeltamap.png|thumb|right|200px|Location of the Mekong Delta region within Vietnam]] The '''Mekong Delta''' ({{lang-vi|đồng bằng sông Cửu Long}} “Nine Dragon river delta”) is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the [[Mekong River]] approaches and empties into the sea through a network of [[distributaries]]. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern [[Vietnam]] of {{convert|39000|km2}}. The size of the area covered by water depends on the season. The Mekong Delta has recently been dubbed as a 'biological treasure trove'. Over 10,000 new species have been discovered in previously unexplored areas of Mekong Delta, including a species of rat thought to be extinct. ==History== [[Image:Visnu Oc Eo.jpg|180px|right|thumb|A statue of [[Visnu]] found at [[Óc Eo]] (6–7th century CE).]] The Mekong Delta was likely inhabited long since prehistory; the empire of [[Kingdom of Funan|Funan]] and later [[Chenla]] maintained a presence in the Mekong Delta for centuries. Archaeological discoveries at [[Oc Eo]] and other [[Kingdom of Funan|Funan]] sites show that the area was an important part of the [[Funan Kingdom]], bustling with trading ports and canals as early as in the first century CE and extensive human settlement in the region may have gone back as far as the 4th century BCE. The region was known as ''[[Khmer Krom]]'' (lower Khmer, or lower Cambodia) to the [[Khmer Empire]], which likely maintained settlements there centuries before its rise in the 11th and 12th centuries."At the height of the Khmer Empire's economic and political strength, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, its rulers established and fostered the growth of Prey Nokor[...] It is possible that there already had been a settlement at this location in the Mekong marshes for some centuries, depending, as Prey Nokor did, on the handling of goods traded between the countries bordering the South China Sea and the interior provinces of the empire." {{cite book|title=Asia and Oceania|series=International Dictionary of Historic Places|volume=5|page=353|author=Robert M. Salkin, Trudy Ring|editor=Paul E. Schellinger, Robert M. Salkin|publisher=Taylor & Francis|year=1996|isbn=1884964044}} The kingdom of [[Champa]], though mainly based along the coast of the [[South China Sea]], is known to have expanded west into the Mekong Delta, seizing control of Prey Nokor (the precursor to modern-day [[Ho Chi Minh City]]) by the end of the 13th century."Such a trading center was bound to be one of the prizes in the struggle for power that developed in the thirteenth century between the declining Khmer Empire and the expanding kingdom of Champa, and by the end of that century the Cham people had seized control of the town." {{cite book|title=Asia and Oceania|series=International Dictionary of Historic Places|volume=5|page=353|author=Robert M. Salkin, Trudy Ring|editor=Paul E. Schellinger, Robert M. Salkin|publisher=Taylor & Francis|year=1996|isbn=1884964044}} Author Nghia M. Vo suggests that a Cham presence may indeed have existed in the area prior to Khmer occupation."Saigon began as the Cham village of Baigaur, then became the Khmer Prey Nokor before being taken over by the Vietnamese and renamed Gia Dinh Thanh and then Saigon." {{cite book|title=The Viet Kieu in America: Personal Accounts of Postwar Immigrants from Vietnam|author=Nghia M. Vo|page=218|publisher=McFarland & Co.|year=2009|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=0oeEpKDCmV4C&lpg=PA13&dq=The%20Viet%20Kieu%20in%20America%3A%20Personal%20Accounts%20of%20Postwar%20Immigrants%20from%20Vietnam%20By%20Nghia%20M.%20Vo&pg=218#v=onepage&f=false}} Beginning in the 1620s, Khmer king [[Chey Chettha II]] (1618–1628) allowed the Vietnamese to settle in the area, and to set up a [[custom house]] at Prey Nokor, which they colloquially referred to as ''Sài Gòn''. The increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers which followed overwhelmed the Khmer kingdom—weakened as it was due to war with Thailand—and slowly Vietnamized the area. During the late 17th century, [[Mac Cuu]], a Chinese anti-[[Qing]] general, began to expand Vietnamese and Chinese settlements deeper into Khmer lands, and in 1691, Prey Nokor was occupied by the Vietnamese. [[Nguyen Huu Canh|Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh]], a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the [[Nguyễn Lords]] of [[Hue (city)|Huế]] by sea in 1698 to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area. This act formally detached the Mekong Delta from Cambodia, placing the region firmly under Vietnamese administrative control. Cambodia was cut off from access to the [[South China Sea]], and trade through the area was possible only with Vietnamese permission. During the [[Tay Son]] wars and the subsequent [[Nguyễn Dynasty]], Vietnam's boundaries were pushed as far as the [[Cape of Camau|Cape of Ca Mau]]. In 1802, Nguyễn Ánh crowned himself emperor [[Gia Long]] and unified all the territories comprising modern Vietnam, including the Mekong Delta. Upon the conclusion of the [[Cochinchina Campaign]] in the 1860s, the area became [[Cochinchina]], [[France]]'s first colony in Vietnam, and later, part of [[French Indochina]]. Beginning during the French colonial period, the French patrolled and fought on the waterways of the Mekong Delta region with their ''Divisions navales d'assaut ([[Dinassaut]])'', a tactic which lasted throughout the [[First Indochina War]], and was later employed by the US Navy [[Mobile Riverine Force]]. During the [[Vietnam War]]—also referred to as the Second Indochina War—the Delta region saw savage fighting between [[Viet Cong|Viet Cong (NLF)]] [[guerrilla warfare|guerrillas]] and units of the [[United States Navy]]'s [[Fast Patrol Craft|swift boats]] and [[hovercraft]]s ([[PACV]]s). Following independence from France, the Mekong Delta was part of the [[Republic of Vietnam]] and eventually the country of Vietnam. In the 1970s, the [[Khmer Rouge]] regime attacked Vietnam in an attempt to reconquer the Delta region. This campaign precipitated the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and subsequent downfall of the Khmer Rouge. ==Geography== [[Image:Mekong delta.jpg|thumb|right|230px|Mekong River Delta from space, February 1996]] The Mekong Delta, as a region, lies immediately to the west of [[Ho Chi Minh City]], roughly forming a triangle stretching from [[My Tho|Mỹ Tho]] in the east to [[Chau Doc|Châu Đốc]] and [[Hà Tiên]] in the northwest, down to [[Ca Mau (city)|Cà Mau]] and the [[South China Sea]] at the southernmost tip of Vietnam, and including the island of [[Phu Quoc|Phú Quốc]]. The Mekong Delta region of Vietnam displays a variety of physical landscapes, ranging from mountains and highlands to the north and west to broad, flat flood plains in the south. This diversity of terrain was largely the product of [[tectonic uplift]] and [[Fold (geology)|folding]] brought about by the collision of the [[Indian Plate|Indian]] and [[Eurasian Plate|Eurasian]] tectonic plates about 50 million years ago. The soil of the lower Delta consists mainly of sediment from the [[Mekong]] and its tributaries, deposited over millions of years as the river changed its course due to the flatness of the low-lying terrain. === Climate change concerns === Being a low-lying coastal region, the Mekong Delta is particularly susceptible to floods resulting from rises in sea level due to climate change. The Climate Change Research Institute at Can Tho University, in studying the possible consequences of climate change, has predicted that, besides suffering from drought brought on by seasonal decrease in rainfall, many provinces in the Mekong Delta will be flooded by the year 2030. The most serious cases are predicted to be the provinces of [[Ben Tre Province|Ben Tre]] and [[Long An Province|Long An]], of which 51% and 49%, respectively, are expected to be flooded if sea levels rise by 1 meter. ==Demographics== The inhabitants of the Mekong Delta region are largely ethnic [[Vietnamese people|Viet]], with [[Khmer people|Khmer]] minority populations living primarily in the [[Tra Vinh Province|Trà Vinh]], [[Soc Trang Province|Sóc Trăng]], and [[Muslim]] [[Cham (Asia)|Chăm]] in Tan Chau, by [[An Giang Province|An Giang]] provinces. There are also sizeable [[Hoa]] (ethnic Chinese) populations in the [[Kien Giang Province|Kiên Giang]] and [[Tra Vinh Province|Trà Vinh]] provinces.The region has approximately 17.4 million people. ===Provinces=== {| class="wikitable" ! rowspan="2"|No. ! rowspan="2"|Provinces/Municipality ! colspan="2"|Area ! rowspan="2"|Population (2009) ! colspan="2"|Pop. density |- !(km²) !(mile²) !(persons/km²) !(persons/mile²) |- | 1 | [[Can Tho]] | {{convert|1401.6|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,188,435 |{{convert|813.3|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 2 | [[An Giang Province|An Giang]] | {{convert|3536.8|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 2,142,709 |{{convert|625.0|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 3 | [[Bạc Liêu Province|Bạc Liêu]] | {{convert|2584.1|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 856,518 |{{convert|317.4|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 4 | [[Ben Tre Province|Ben Tre]] | {{convert|2360.2|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,255,946 |{{convert|573.4|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 5 | [[Ca Mau Province|Ca Mau]] | {{convert|5331.7|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,206,938 |{{convert|231.1|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 6 | [[Dong Thap Province|Dong Thap]] | {{convert|3376.4|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,666,467 |{{convert|494.0|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 7 | [[Hau Giang Province|Hau Giang]] | {{convert|1601.1|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 757,300 |{{convert|497.7|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 8 | [[Kien Giang Province|Kien Giang]] | {{convert|6348.3|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,688,248 |{{convert|265.4|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 9 | [[Long An Province|Long An]] | {{convert|4493.8|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,436,066 |{{convert|316.7|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 10 | [[Soc Trang Province|Soc Trang]] | {{convert|3312.3|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,292,853 |{{convert|385.3|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 11 | [[Tien Giang Province|Tien Giang]] | {{convert|2484.2|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,672,271 |{{convert|691.3|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 12 | [[Tra Vinh Province|Tra Vinh]] | {{convert|2295.1|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,003,012 |{{convert|451.7|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- | 13 | [[Vĩnh Long Province|Vĩnh Long]] | {{convert|1479.1|km2|sqmi|disp=table}} | 1,024,707 |{{convert|714.6|PD/km2|PD/sqmi|disp=table}} |- |} ==Economy== [[Image:CanThoFloatingMarket.jpg|thumb|Floating market of Cần Thơ]] The region is famous as a large rice growing area. It produces about half of the total of Vietnam's rice output. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice globally after Thailand. In fact, the delta produces more rice than Korea and Japan combined. Additionally, the region is home to large aquacultural industry of [[basa fish]], Tra [[catfish]] and [[shrimp]], much of which is exported. The construction of the [[Can Tho Bridge]], a cable-stayed bridge over the largest [[distributary]] of the [[Mekong River]], was completed on April 12, 2010, three years after a [[Collapse of Can Tho Bridge|collapse]] that killed 54 and injured nearly 100 workers. The bridge replaces the [[ferry]] system that currently runs along [[National Road 1A (Vietnam)|National Road 1A]], and links [[Vinh Long Province|Vĩnh Long Province]] and [[Can Tho|Cần Thơ]] city. The cost of construction is estimated to be 4.842 trillion [[Vietnamese đồng]] (approximately 342.6 million [[United States|U.S.]] [[United States dollar|dollar]]s), making it the most expensive bridge in Vietnam. ==Culture== Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and many of the villages are often accessible by rivers and canals rather than by road. The region is home to [[cai luong]], a form of Vietnamese folk opera. ==See also== * [[Greater Mekong Sub-region Academic and Research Network]] * [[GMS Environment Operations Center]] * [[The Journal of GMS Development Studies]] * [[Mekong River]] ==External links== *[http://www.transmekong.com/DBSCL.php a browsable satellite photo] *[http://www.mekongdeltatravelguide.com Mekong Delta Travel Guide] *[http://www.pbs.org/journeytoplanetearth/hope/mekong.html PBS] {{Vietnam}} {{coord missing|Vietnam}}