Fan Si Pan (3,144 m) is the highest point in Vietnam.
The Mekong River, the largest river in South-East Asia, flows through the south of Vietnam.
Legend says that the people of Vietnam are descended from Lac Long Quan (Lac Dragon Lord) and Au Co (a mountain fairy).
Hung Vuong, the eldest son of Lac Long Quan, became the first king of Lac Viet which he renamed Van Lang (an ancient name for Vietnam).
Vietnam was ruled by China for over a thousand years; independence was achieved in the tenth century.
In 40 AD the Trung Sisters won a brief victory over the Chinese. However the Chinese army eventually overcame the Vietnamese and the sisters committed suicide to avoid capture.
The French colonised Vietnam in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Vietnam was part of French Indochina, consisting of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
In 1930 Ho Chi Minh founded the Indochinese Communist Party.
Vietnam was occupied by Japanese forces during the Second World War.
In 1945 Ho Chi Minh proclaimed a democratic republic in Hanoi.
The First Indochina War (1946-1954) ended with the Geneva Agreement dividing Vietnam into North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
The United States entered the Vietnam War in 1964.
The My Lai massacre (16 March 1968) caused a change in American public opinion about the Vietnam War.
The Anti-Vietnam War Movement in the US gained momentum in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In 1967, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, the American Civil Rights leader, spoke the following words about the war in Vietnam:
Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken.
The Americans withdrew from Vietnam in 1973.
In 1976 Vietnam became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Saigon, in the south, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
At the end of the War, hundreds of thousands of refugees left Vietnam; many sailing in boats to Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.
In 1978 Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia; the People's Republic of Kampuchea was established. Vietnamese troops left Cambodia in 1989 and a peace agreement was signed in 1991.
In 2000 President Bill Clinton made an official visit to Vietnam and pledged to help clear landmines remaining from the War.
A number of people lost their lives when the worst floods for twenty years hit parts of Vietnam in 2008. Crops were destroyed and water supplies contaminated.