The slender, serpentine profile of Vietnam extends nearly 1,000 miles from north to south, but measures just thirty miles across at its narrowest. Bordered by China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west, this lengthy country can boast an astonishing range of landscapes and climates. In the chilly north, near the China border, tribal people inhabit spectacular mountains known as the Tonkinese Alps (TAWN-Kin-Ease). In the cool central highlands, coffee plantations thrive, while in the tropical south, banana trees lurk in the lush jungle valleys and miles of pristine beaches draw vacationers to the coast.
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