The Mekong Delta (Vietnamese: đồng bằng sông Cửu Long “Nine Dragon river delta”) is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries.
The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southeastern Vietnam of 39,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi). The size of the area covered by water depends on the season. As all deltas, it receives the bounty of the siltation from the upper Mekong, and as such is a very rich and lush area, covered with rice fields. It produces about half of the total of Vietnam's agricultural output (in fact the delta produces more rice than Korea and Japan altogether), and is the place for timeless sceneries of farmers planting or harvesting rice.
The Mekong splits in Cambodia into two main rivers, the Bassac (Hậu Giang) and the First river (Tiền Giang), then in Vietnam into a more complex system, creating a maze of small canals, rivers and arroyos interspersed with villages and floating markets.
Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and all the villages are often accessible by river rather than by road. The most renowned places in the Mekong Delta are Mỹ Tho and Caí Bè near Ho Chi Minh City, then, more to the heart of the region, Vĩnh Long, Sa Đéc, and Cần Thơ, from where it is possible to reach the remotest confines of the delta, South towards the mangroves and the East-sea, North towards Châu Đốc, or West towards the island of Phú Quốc.
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 Can Tho 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 Ben Tre and Long An, of which 51% and 49%, respectively, are expected to be flooded if sea levels rise by 1 meter.
The region is famous as a large rice growing area. It produces about half of the total of Vietnam's rice output. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice globally after Thailand. In fact, the delta produces more rice than Korea and Japan altogether.
Additionally, the region is home to large aquacultural industry of basa fish, Tra catfish and shrimp, much of which is exported. The Mekong Delta has recently been dubbed as a 'biological treasure trove'. Over 1,000 new species have been discovered in previously unexplored areas of Mekong Delta, including a species of rat thought to be extinct
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 road. The region is home to "cai luong", a form of Vietnamese folk opera.