Sapa, is a frontier town and capital of Sapa District in Lào Cai Province in northwest Vietnam.
It is one of the main market towns in the area, a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. The total population of 36,000 consists mostly of minority groups. Besides the Kinh (Vietnamese) people there are mainly 5 ethnic groups: Hmong Dao, Tay, Giay and a small number of Xa Pho.
Most of the ethnic minority people work their land on sloping terraces since the vast majority of the land is mountainous. Their staple foods are rice and corn. Rice, by its very nature of being a labour-intensive crop, makes the daily fight for survival paramount.
Before the 1990s, the town's economy was mainly based on small size agriculture. Tourist arrival between 1995 and 2003 grew from a total of 4,860 to 138,622.
The people of the Sapa area have been very poor even by Vietnam's rural standards. Efforts to improve the situation for the local people include both governmental and non-governmental initiatives.
Uploaded: Nov 12, 2014