Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country located in the Indochina region. The country’s terrain is mountainous, with highlands in the north and east and lowlands in the southeast. Vietnam has a coastline on the South China Sea and is bordered by Laos to the west, Cambodia to the northwest, Thailand to the northeast, and the Philippines to the east. The main language is Vietnamese, but French, English, and Chinese are also spoken. Buddhism is the dominant religion. Vietnam was unified under Emperor Gia Long in 1802 and became a republic in 1945. In 1975 it was invaded by North Vietnam and was divided into two parts, North Vietnam and communist South Vietnam. In 1989 South Vietnam fell to the communists and North Vietnam became an official socialist republic. In 1993 Vietnam opened its borders to foreign investment and began to modernize its economy. Since then it has enjoyed strong economic growth as well as increased social welfare programs.