Land and Resources, Natural Resources
anthracite coal, chromite, alluvial soils, Communist government, Haiphong
Vietnamís most valuable natural resource is its land, particularly the fertile, alluvial soils in the Red and Mekong deltas. Some 23 percent of the land is currently being cultivated.
Vietnam has some valuable mineral resources, including gold, iron, tin, zinc, phosphate, chromite, apatite, and anthracite coal. Most deposits are located in the northern part of the country. Few attempts were made to extract these minerals until the French takeover of Vietnam at the end of the 19th century. The French opened coal mines, principally along the coast directly east of Haiphong. They also established a phosphate factory on the Paracel Islands, located in the South China Sea.
Since reunification, the Communist government has sought to increase exploitation of Vietnamís natural mineral resources but has had only modest success so far. Extraction of oil deposits in the South China Sea began in the mid-1980s. In the mid-1990s oil production was sufficient to meet domestic needs, while also providing an important source of export earnings.
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