Vietnam Country Guide


The Battle of Bach Dang River in 938 between the Vietnamese forces and the Southern Han state of China, ended 10 centuries of Chinese domination over Vietnam. Even during the periods of Vietnam's independence, it was a tributary state to China until French colonisation in the middle of the 19th century. Vietnam's last emperors were from the Nguyen Dynasty, who ruled from their capital in Hue from 1802 to 1945. Both the Chinese and French have left a lasting impact on Vietnamese culture, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese social etiquette and the French leaving a lasting imprint on Vietnamese cuisine.
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After a brief period of Japanese occupation in World War II, the Communist Viet Minh under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh continued their insurgency against the French, with the last Emperor Bao Dai abdicating in 1945 and proclaiming independence following soon after. The majority of French had left by 1945, but in 1946 they returned to continue the fight until their decisive defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The Geneva Conference partitioned the country into two at the 17th parallel, with a Communist-led North Vietnam and Ngo Dinh Diem declaring himself President of South Vietnam.

Hanoi Citadel by Gryffindor

US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the Southern Vietnamese government. The United States dispatched 500,000 American troops in 1966 and what became known as the Vietnam War (although the Vietnamese refer to it as the American War). What was supposed to be a quick and decisive action soon degenerated into a quagmire and U.S. armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, in April 1975, North Vietnamese troops and local Vietcong units overtook Ho Chi Minh City and the war ended.

People's Committee Building by Kwb

An estimated 3 million Vietnamese and over 55 thousand Americans were killed during the American Vietnam War. The war was only one of many that the Vietnamese fought but was the most brutal in its history. In July 1976, North Vietnam and South Vietnam merged to become the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Economic problems confronted the country and the old guard eventually replaced by reformist politicians in 1986. The reformist implemented a series of socialist-oriented market reforms encouraging private ownership, foreign investments, exports and economic deregulation through controlling industries deemed strategic.

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