Vietnam is a long, thin country in Southeast Asia. Despite the turmoil of the American War (called the Vietnam War internationally), Vietnam has emerged from the ashes since the 1990s and is undergoing rapid economic development, driven by its young and industrious population. Although less developed as a tourist destination compared to say, Thailand, with great food and a wealth of natural and cultural attractions, it has much to offer for the intrepid traveller.
Vietnam's history is one of war, colonization and rebellion. Occupied by China no fewer than four times, the Vietnamese managed to fight off the invaders just as often. Even during the periods in history when Vietnam was independent, it was mostly a tributary state to China until the French colonization.
Due to its long history as a tributary state of China, as well as several periods of Chinese occupations, Vietnamese culture is strongly influenced by that of southern China, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese social etiquette. The Vietnamese language also contains many loan words from Chinese, though the two languages are unrelated. Buddhism remains the single largest religion in Vietnam. As in China, but unlike its Southeast Asian neighbors, the dominant school of Buddhism in Vietnam is the Mahayana School.