The Red River Delta (Vietnamese: Đồng Bằng Sông Hồng) Region is the flat area moulded by the Red River and its distributaries, which flow out to the Thai Binh River. It got its name because the water that rushes through it is turned red by rich iron oxide silt. One of Vietnam’s main ports, Haiphong, sits on one of the delta’s distributaries.
The Red River Delta Region is northern Vietnam’s breadbasket. The soil is rich and suitable for the cultivation of rice, a major export. The countryside is defined by a patchwork of rice paddies, and a large maze of dikes and canals protects the region, as it is prone to flooding. Many areas are only between 1 to 3 metres above sea level. With heavy rains, some areas can by flooded by waters up to 14 metres high.
The region produces skilled craftsmen. The annual rice-growing cycle allows farmers to leave the land during certain periods of time to develop other skills and pursue other business ventures. Villages are known to specialize in crafts such as ceramics, lacquer ware and the production of Vietnam’s conical non hats. These craft villages are popular tourist attractions.
Most visitors come to the Red River Delta Region to explore Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city. The region is the most populated in the country; in fact, it has one of the highest population densities in the world, with 15 million people living on 15,000 square kilometres of land. As busy as Hanoi is, only 20% of the region’s residents live there. The rest live outside the city, leading very traditional lives in agrarian communities.