The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Cộng hòa xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam), is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. With an estimated 91.5 million inhabitants as of 2012, it is the world’s 13th-most-populous country. The name Vietnam translates as “South Viet”, and was officially adopted in 1945. The country is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea to the east.

In 1986, the Sixth Party Congress of Vietnam introduced free market economic reforms as part of the “Đổi Mới” reform program, resulting in a socialist-oriented market economy. Private ownership was encouraged in industries, commerce and agriculture. After these reforms, Vietnam achieved around 8% annual GDP growth between 1990 to 1997, and the economy continued to grow at an annual rate of around 7% from 2000 to 2005, making Vietnam one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

It covers a total area of approximately 331,210 km2, making it almost the size of Germany. The total length of the country’s land boundaries is 4,639 km, and its coastline is 3,444 km long. Vietnam’s land is mostly hilly and densely forested, with level land covering no more than 20 % and mountains accounting for 40 % of the country’s land area.

Vietnam is one of twentyfive countries considered to possess a uniquely high level of biodiversity, and is ranked 16th in biological diversity worldwide, having 16% of the world’s species. But the illegal wildlife trade takes a heavy toll.

Adding to a fast habitat loss is the flourishing and mostly illegal use of wild animals, or their parts or products in traditional medicine, foods, as trophies, souvenirs or pets. International demand – primarily from China – is further contributing to this haemorrhage of wildlife and Vietnam also serves as a conduit for wildlife smuggled from neighbouring countries, like Laos.

Pu Hu Nature Reserve has been established in 1999 to conserve this important natural resource and its unique biodiversity. The Pu Hu massif is separated from the belt of limestone karst that runs between Pu Luong Nature Reserve and Cuc Phuong National Park by the Ma river, one of the major rivers in north-central Vietnam.

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