Mekong Delta

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The Mekong Delta, in the southern part of Vietnam, is a major agricultural area, perhaps the richest in Southeast Asia. It combines the tributaries of the Mekong River (Vietnamese: Cuu Long) rivers as they exit into the South China Sea from headwaters in Tibet, via Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China, Laos, and Vietnam. The Vietnamese name means "nine dragons", referring to the nine mouths into the sea.

It contains the Vietnamese provinces of Long An, Tien Gang, Bien Tre, Dong Thap, An Giang, Vinh Long, Kien Giang, Phong Binh, Hau Giang and Minh Hai. [1] Under French administration, the region was called Cochin China. Can Tho Province is the center of the region, where the nine rivers meet.

Can Tho City, in the capital of what is now Can Tho Province, is a central point where the rivers meet before going to the sea. It has been called the "western capital" of the south. The Hau Giang or Hau River runs through it.[1]

Current development

The province was the center of a Mekong tourist festival in 2008, with the major events: [2]

  • January: The 45th anniversary of the Battle of Ap Bac in Kien Giang Province, athe Dong Khoi (General Uprising) festival in Ben Tre Province; a and trade, tourism and agriculture fair in Bac Lieu Province.
  • February: A festival in Long An province.
  • March: Nghinh Ong (Whale) festival in Ca Mau province.
  • April: A trade and tourism fair in Hau Giang province.
  • June: The 300th anniversary of Ha Tien town in Kien Giang province, a fruit festival in Ben Tre province.
  • October: An international tourism exhibition and fair in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • November: OkomBok festival in Tra Vinh Province.

Economics during French rule

Due to differences in the ecology, Mekong Delta agriculture differed from that of other areas of French Indochina, and did not develop significantly until the 20th century. Much of the land was salty and needed French canal engineering to be viable for cultivation, which required large industrial involvement. Since neither the French nor the engineering companies could work the land, a tenant farming system, different than the agricultural villages elsewhere in Vietnam, emerged.[3]

Elsewhere in Vietnam, 20-25% of agricultural land was communal, but only 2.5% in this area. French agricultural experts argued against the trend to large land ownership, but demand for land reform began to be exploited by the Viet Minh in the late 1940s. [4]

This region was the first targeted for land reform under the Diem government.

Vietnam War

This was a key region, under the jurisdiction of the IV Corps tactical zone of the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam. It came to Western public attention with the Battle of Ap Bac in January 1963.

During the Tet Offensive in 1968, Can Tho was defended by the 21st ARVN Division, in a four-day fight that devastated the city.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Life On The Mekong, Vietnam Travel
  2. Mekong – Can Tho Travel Year 2008, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  3. John T. McAlister Jr. and Paul Mus (1970), The Vietnamese and their Revolution, Center for International Studies, Princeton University; Harper & Row, pp. 79-82
  4. McAlister & Mus, pp. 83-84