Mekong Delta (Vietnamese: Đồng bằng Sông Cửu Long, "Nine
Dragon river delta" or simply Vietnamese: Đồng Bằng Sông Mê
Mekong river delta"), also known as the Western Region
(Vietnamese: Miền Tây) or the South-western region (Vietnamese:
Tây Nam Bộ) is the region in southwestern
Vietnam where the Mekong
River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of
Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of
Vietnam of over 40,500 square kilometres
(15,600 sq mi). The size of the area covered by water
depends on the season. The region comprises 12 provinces: Long An,
Đồng Tháp, Tiền Giang, An Giang, Bến Tre, Vĩnh Long, Trà
Vinh, Hậu Giang, Kiên Giang, Sóc Trăng, Bạc Liêu, and Cà Mau,
along with the province-level municipality of Cần Thơ.
Mekong Delta has been dubbed as a "biological treasure trove".
Over 1,000 animal species were recorded between 1997 and 2007 and new
species of plants, fish, lizards, and mammals have been discovered in
previously unexplored areas, including the Laotian rock rat, thought
to be extinct.
1.1 Khmer Empire
1.2 Kingdom of Cambodia
Climate change concerns
4.3 Industry and FDI
6.1 Literature and movies
7 See also
8 Notes and references
9 Further reading
10 External links
A statue of Visnu found at
Óc Eo (6–7th century AD).
Mekong Delta was likely inhabited long since prehistory; the
empires of Funan and
Chenla maintained a presence in the
for centuries. Archaeological discoveries at
Óc Eo and other
Funanese 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 AD and extensive human settlement in the region may have
gone back as far as the 4th century BC. Angkor Borei is a site in the
Mekong Delta that existed between 400 BC-500 AD. This site had
extensive maritime trade networks throughout Southeast Asia and with
India, and is believed to have possibly been the ancient capital to
the Kingdom of Funan.
See also: Khmer Empire
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.[nb 1] The kingdom of
Champa, though mainly based along the coast of modern Central Vietnam,
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.[nb 2] Author Nghia M. Vo suggests that a Cham
presence may indeed have existed in the area prior to Khmer
Kingdom of Cambodia
See also: Dark ages of Cambodia
Beginning in the 1620s, Cambodian 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 kingdom—weakened as it was due to war with
Thailand—and slowly Vietnamized the area. During the late 17th
century, Mạc Cửu, a Chinese anti-
Qing general, began to expand
Vietnamese and Chinese settlements deeper into Cambodian lands, and in
1691, Prey Nokor was occupied by the Vietnamese.
See also: Nguyễn lords, Nam tiến, French Indochina, First
Vietnam War, and Cambodian–Vietnamese War
In 1698, the
Nguyễn lords of
Huế sent Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a
Vietnamese noble, to the area to establish Vietnamese administrative
structures in the area. This act formally detached the
from Cambodia, placing the region firmly under Vietnamese
administrative control. The Khmers were cut off from access to the
South China Sea, and trade through the area was possible only with
Vietnamese permission. During the
Tây Sơn wars and the subsequent
Nguyễn Dynasty, Vietnam's boundaries were pushed as far as the Cape
Cà Mau. In 1802 Nguyễn Ánh crowned himself emperor
Gia Long and
unified all the territories comprising modern Vietnam, including the
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
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 (NLF) guerrillas and units of
the United States Navy's swift boats and hovercrafts (PACVs).
Following independence from France, the
Mekong Delta was part of the
Vietnam and eventually the country of Vietnam. In 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.
Mekong River Delta from space, February 1996, oriented with south on
Mekong Delta, as a region, lies immediately to the west of Ho Chi
Minh City (also called Saigon by locals), roughly forming a triangle
Mỹ Tho in the east to
Châu Đốc and
Hà Tiên in
the northwest, down to
Cà Mau at the southernmost tip of Vietnam, and
including the island of Phú Quốc.
Mekong Delta region of
Vietnam displays a variety of physical
landscapes, but is dominated by flat flood plains in the south, with a
few hills in the north and west. This diversity of terrain was largely
the product of tectonic uplift and folding brought about by the
collision of the Indian and 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
thousands of years as the river changed its course due to the flatness
of the low-lying terrain.
Mekong Delta system has two major distributary channels,
both discharging directly into the East Sea. The
Holocene history of
Mekong Delta shows delta progradation of about 200 km during
the last 6 kyr. During the Middle
Mekong River was
discharging waters into both the East Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
The water entering the
Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand was flowing via a
palaeochannel located within the western part of the delta; north of
the Camau Peninsula. Upper
Pleistocene prodeltaic and delta front
sediments interpreted as the deposits of the palaeo-
Mekong River where
reported from central basin of the Gulf of Thailand
Mekong Delta is the region with the smallest forest area in
Vietnam. 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) or 7.7% of the total area
are forested as of 2011. The only provinces with large forests are Cà
Mau Province and Kiên Giang Province, together accounting for two
thirds of the region's forest area, while forests cover less than 5%
of the area of all of the other eight provinces and cities.
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 Cần Thơ
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
Bến Tre and Long An, of which 51% and 49%,
respectively, are expected to be flooded if sea levels rise by one
meter. Another problem caused by climate change is the increasing
soil salinity near the coasts.
Bến Tre Province
Bến Tre Province is planning to
reforest coastal regions to counter this trend. The duration of
inundation at an important road in the city of Can Tho is expected to
continue to rise from the current total of 72 inundated days per year
to 270 days by 2030 and 365 days by 2050. This is attributed to the
combined influence of sea-level rise and land subsidence. Several
projects and initiatives on local, regional and state levels work to
counter this trend and safe the
Mekong Delta. One programme for
integrated coastal management, for instance, is supported by Germany
and Australia. 
The inhabitants of the
Mekong Delta region are predominantly ethnic
Viet. The region, formerly part of the Khmer Empire, is also home to
the largest population of Khmers outside of the modern borders of
Cambodia. The Khmer minority population live primarily in the Trà
Vinh, Sóc Trăng, and Muslim Chăm in Tan Chau, An Giang provinces.
There are also sizeable Hoa (ethnic Chinese) populations in the Kiên
Trà Vinh provinces. The region had a population of 17.33
million people in 2011.
The population of the
Mekong Delta has been growing relatively slowly
in recent years, mainly due to out-migration. The region's population
only increased by 471,600 people between 2005 and 2011, while 166,400
people migrated out in 2011 alone. Together with the central coast
regions, it has one of the slowest growing populations in country.
Population growth rates have been between 0.3% and 0.5% between 2008
and 2011, while they have been over 2% in the neighbouring
southeastern region. Net migration has been negative in all of
these years. The region also has a relatively low fertility rate, at
1.8 children per woman in 2010 and 2011, down from 2.0 in 2005.
Cần Thơ (municipality)
Floating market of Cần Thơ
Mekong Delta is by far Vietnam's most productive region in
agriculture and aquaculture, while its role in industry and foreign
direct investment is much smaller.
2.6 million ha in the
Mekong Delta are used for agriculture, which is
one fourth of Vietnam's total. Due to its mostly flat terrain and
few forested areas (except for
Cà Mau Province), almost two thirds
(64.5%) of the region's land can be used for agriculture. The share of
agricultural land exceeds 80% in
Cần Thơ and neighbouring Hậu
Giang Province and is below 50% only in
Cà Mau Province
Cà Mau Province (32%) and
Bạc Liêu Province
Bạc Liêu Province (42%). The region's land used for growing
cereals makes up 47% of the national total, more than northern and
Vietnam combined. Most of this is used for rice cultivation.
Rice output in 2011 was 23,186,000t, 54.8% of Vietnam's total output.
The strongest producers are Kiên Giang Province, An Giang Province,
and Đồng Tháp Province, producing over 3 million tonnes each and
almost 11 million tonnes together. Any two of these provinces produce
more than the entire Red River Delta. Only three provinces produce
less than 1 million tonnes of rice (
Bạc Liêu Province, Cà Mau
Bến Tre Province).
Mekong Delta is also Vietnam's most important fishing region. It
has almost half of Vietnam's capacity of offshore fishing vessels
(mostly in Kien Gian with almost 1/4, Bến Tre, Cà Mau, Tiền
Giang, Bạc Liêu). Fishery output was at 3.168 million tons (58.3%
of Vietnam) and has experienced rapid growth from 1.84mt in 2005.
All of Vietnam's largest fishery producers with over 300kt of output
are in the
Mekong Delta: Kiên Giang, Cà Mau, Đồng Tháp, An
Giang, and Bến Tre.
Despite the region's large offshore fishing fleet, 2/3 (2.13 million
tonnes out of Vietnam's total of 2.93) of fishery output actually
comes from aquaculture.
December 2015, aquaculture production was estimated at 357 thousand
tons, up 11% compared to the same period last year, bringing the total
aquaculture production 3516 thousand tons in 2015, up 3.0% compared to
the same period. Although aquaculture production has increased
overall, aquaculture still faces many difficulties coming from export
Industry and FDI
Mekong Delta is not strongly industrialized, but is still the
third out of seven regions in terms of industrial gross output. The
region's industry accounts for 10% of Vietnam's total as of 2011.
Almost half of the region's industrial production is concentrated in
Long An Province
Long An Province and
Cà Mau Province.
Cần Thơ is the
economic center of the region and more industrialized than the other
provinces. Long An has been the only province of the region to attract
part of the manufacturing booming around
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City and is seen
by other provinces as an example of successful FDI attraction. Cà
Mau Province is home to a large industrial zone including power plants
and a fertiliser factory.
Accumulated foreign direct investment in the
Mekong Delta until 2011
was $10.257bn. It has been highly concentrated in a few provinces,
led by Long An and Kiên Giang with over $3bn each, Tiền Giang and
Cần Thơ (around 850m),
Cà Mau (780m) and Hậu Giang (673m), while
the other provinces have received less than 200m each. In general,
the performance of the region in attracting FDI is evaluated as
unsatisfactory by local analysts and policymakers. Companies from
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City have also invested heavily in the region. Their
investment from 2000 to June 2011 accounted for 199 trillion VND
The construction of the
Cần Thơ Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge over
the largest distributary of the
Mekong River, was completed on April
12, 2010, three years after a collapse that killed 54 and injured
nearly 100 workers. The bridge replaces the ferry system that
currently runs along National Route 1A, and links
Vĩnh Long Province
Cần Thơ city. The cost of construction is estimated to be 4.842
Vietnamese đồng (approximately 342.6 million United States
dollars), making it the most expensive bridge in Vietnam.
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
The region is home to cải lương, a form of Kinh/Vietnamese folk
Literature and movies
Several movies have been filmed in the
Mekong Delta and depict the
culture of the region. They include
The Buffalo Boy
The Buffalo Boy and The Floating
In the movie Apocalypse Now, Lt. Col. Kilgore captures this location
for the American soldiers to surf (due to its 6-foot peak), justifying
it with the famous line, "Charlie don't surf".
Nguyễn Ngọc Tư, an author from
Cà Mau Province, has written many
popular books about life in the
Mekong Sub-region Academic and Research Network
GMS Environment Operations Center
Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance
Notes and references
^ "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." Robert M. Salkin;
Trudy Ring (1996). Paul E. Schellinger; Robert M. Salkin, eds. Asia
and Oceania. International Dictionary of Historic Places. 5. Taylor
& Francis. p. 353. ISBN 1-884964-04-4.
^ "Such a trading center was bound to be one of the prizes in the
struggle for power that developed in the thirteenth century between
Khmer Empire and the expanding kingdom of Champa, and by
the end of that century the
Cham people had seized control of the
town." Robert M. Salkin; Trudy Ring (1996). Paul E. Schellinger;
Robert M. Salkin, eds. Asia and Oceania. International Dictionary of
Historic Places. 5. Taylor & Francis. p. 353.
^ "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." Nghia M. Vo (2009). The Viet Kieu in
America: Personal Accounts of Postwar Immigrants from Vietnam.
McFarland & Co. p. 218.
^ Statistical Handbook of
Vietnam 2014 Archived July 6, 2015, at the
Wayback Machine., General Statistics Office Of Vietnam
Mekong Delta Archived 2012-09-21 at the Wayback Machine. on ARCBC
(ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation) site
^ Ashley Fantz, "
Mekong a 'treasure trove' of 1,000 newly discovered
species", CNN. December 16, 2008.
^ a b Robert M. Salkin; Trudy Ring (1996). Paul E. Schellinger; Robert
M. Salkin, eds. Asia and Oceania. International Dictionary of Historic
Places. 5. Taylor & Francis. p. 353.
^ Stark, M., & Sovath, B. (2001). Recent research on emergent
complexity in Cambodia's Mekong. Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific
Prehistory Association, 21(5), 85-98.
^ Nghia M. Vo; Chat V. Dang; Hien V. Ho (2008-08-29). The Women of
Vietnam. Saigon Arts, Culture & Education Institute Forum.
Outskirts Press. ISBN 1-4327-2208-5.
^ The first settlers, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on
2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
^ Robert M. Salkin; Trudy Ring (1996). Paul E. Schellinger; Robert M.
Salkin, eds. Asia and Oceania. International Dictionary of Historic
Places. 5. Taylor & Francis. p. 354.
^ Leulliot, Nowfel. "Dinassaut : Riverine warfare in Indochina,
^ "Physical and Geographical Features".
Mekong River Awareness Kit.
Convention on Biological Diversity. Archived from the original on
2009-08-08. Retrieved 2010-06-18. section= ignored (help)
^ "Ta, T.K.O., Nguyen, V.L., Tateishi, M., Kobayashi, I., Tanabe, S.,
and Saito, Y.,
Holocene delta evolution and sediment discharge of the
Mekong River, southern Vietnam. Quaternary Science Reviews 21,
^ Puchala, R. (2014), Morphology and origin of modern seabed features
in the central basin of the Gulf of Thailand,
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n General Statistics Office (2012):
Statistical Yearbook of
Vietnam 2011. Statistical Publishing House,
Mekong Delta: more flood and drought". VietnamNet Bridge. March 19,
^ "Xây dựng rừng phòng hộ để thích ứng với biến
đổi khí hậu". Saigon Times. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 5 January
^ "Sea-Level Rise and Land Subsidence: Impacts on Flood Projections
Mekong Delta's Largest City". MDPI. 2016-09-21. Retrieved
^ Severin Peters, Christian Henckes (18 March 2017). "Saving the
Mekong Delta". D+C, development and cooperation. Retrieved 19 April
Mekong Delta Tours - Official MeKong delta Travel".
^ a b "Nâng nội lực, hút vốn FDI vào ĐBSCL". Saigon Times. 7
December 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
^ "Gas, fertiliser industrial zone opens in Ca Mau". Viet Nam News. 27
October 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
^ "TPHCM đã đầu tư vào ĐBSCL gần 199.000 tỉ đồng".
Saigon Times. 25 July 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
^ "SE Asia's longest cable-stayed bridge underway in Can Tho".
September 28, 2004. Archived from the original on September 1, 2007.
Retrieved September 28, 2007.
Kuenzer, C. and F. Renaud. "2012: Climate Change and Environmental
Change in River Deltas Globally", In (eds.): Renaud, F. and C. Kuenzer
Mekong Delta System – Interdisciplinary Analyses of a
River Delta, Springer, ISBN 978-94-007-3961-1, DOI
10.1007/978-94-007-3962-8, pp. 7–48
Renaud F. and C. Kuenzer. "2012: Introduction". In (eds.): Renaud, F.
and C. Kuenzer 2012: The
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Moder, F., C. Kuenzer, Z. Xu, P. Leinenkugel, and Q. Bui Van. "2012:
IWRM for the
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Klinger, V., G. Wehrmann, and G. Gebhardt, and C. Kuenzer. "2012: A
Water related Web-based Information System for the Sustainable
Development of the
Mekong Delta". In (eds.): Renaud, F. and C.
Kuenzer, 2011: The
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a River Delta. Springer, ISBN 978-94-007-3961-1, DOI
10.1007/978-94-007-3962-8, pp. 423–444
Gebhardt, S., L. D. Nguyen, and C. Kuenzer. "2012: Mangrove Ecosystems
Mekong Delta. Overcoming Uncertainties in Inventory Mapping
Using Satellite Remote Sensing Data". In (eds.): Renaud, F. and C.
Kuenzer, 2011: The
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a River Delta. Springer, ISBN 978-94-007-3961-1, DOI
10.1007/978-94-007-3962-8, pp. 315–330
Kuenzer, C., H. Guo, J. Huth, P. Leinenkugel, X. Li, and S. Dech,
2012: Flood Mapping and Flood Dynamics of the
ENVISAT-ASAR-WSM Based Time-Series Analyses. Remote Sens. 2013, 5,
Gebhardt, S., J. Huth, N. Lam Dao, A. Roth, and C. Kuenzer, "2012: A
comparison of TerraSAR-X Quadpol backscattering with RapidEye
multispectral vegetation indices over rice fields in the
Vietnam". In: International Journal of Remote Sensing. 33(24) 2012,
Kuenzer, C., Guo, H., Leinenkugel, P., Huth, J., Li, X., and S. DecH,
"2012: Flood and inundation dynamics in the
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Leinenkugel, P., Esch, T., And C. Kuenzer, "2011: Settlement Detection
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ISBN 978-94-007-3961-1, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-3962-8,
The WISDOM Project, a Water related Information System for the Mekong
Image Google map of the
Fruits found at
Mekong Delta Climate Change Forum 2009 Documents. International Centre
for Environmental Management.
Release of arsenic to deep groundwater in the
Mekong Delta, Vietnam,
linked to pumping-induced land subsidence.
Subdivisions of Vietnam
Red River Delta
North Central Coast
South Central Coast
Hồ Chí Minh City
Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu
District level subdivisions
Commune level subdivisions
List of cities
Coordinates: 10°00′32″N 105°49′26″E / 10.009°N
105.824°E / 10.009; 105.824