Dien Bien Phu lies in Muong Thanh valley, a 20-km-long and 6-km-wide basin sometimes described as "heart-shaped". It is on the western edge of Dien Bien province, of which it is the capital, and is only a short distance from the border with Laos. It a major rice growing area. The Western fear of a Communist extension in Southeast Asia, named the Domino Theory by Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Dien Bien Phu siege and the departure of the French from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, was a factor leading to the direct American intervention in South Vietnam.
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