Tags: Culture, History, Tour-Vietnam, Vietnamese
This is a very brief breakdown of Vietnam history. For an in-depth read on the history of Vietnam, go to Wikipedia.
In the beginning…
The early Vietnamese were scattered but they can be found living mainly in Northern Vietnam.
Chinese domination (111 BC – 938AD)
China ruled Vietnam for over 1000 years.
Interesting fact: This is why you’ll find many similarities between the Vietnamese and the Chinese spoken language.
Independent of Dai Viet (938AD – 1858)
Vietnam fought off the Chinese and became independent during this period. The Chinese did re-conquered Vietnam in 1407 but ruled for only 2 decades. Vietnam at this time was called Dai Viet which literally means ‘Big Viet’.
Interesting fact: The first Vietnam dynasty, the Ly dynasty, established Hanoi as their capital in 1010. By next year, 2010, it’d have been 1000 years (!) and Hanoi will be celebrating its 1000th year anniversary on 10th October, 2010. Gonna be huge!
French colonization (1858 – 1954)
In 1858, the French invaded Vietnam with commercial and military interest and colonized the country. While the French did well for Vietnam with many improvements and contributed to commercial growth, it did not benefit the majority of the Vietnamese who were still living in extreme hardships. This led to anti-colonial sentiments. In 1940, Ho Chi Minh, based in North Vietnam (Hanoi), formed the Viet Minh Front to fight for a united Vietnam. The Viet Minh Force grew with China’s assistance and in 1954, launched a major siege against the French bases in Dien Bien Phu. The French lost. A Geneva Accord was signed to divide Vietnam, temporary, into 2 partitions being North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh led the North while a Premier, Ngo Dinh Diem, was selected to govern the South.
Vietnam War (1954 – 1975)
The US entered into this picture here by providing military and economic aid to the South Vietnam as they feared the North, supported by China, would spread Communism throughout Vietnam and then potentially to the rest of Asia.
But Ngo Dinh Diem, the Premier of the South Vietnam, turned out to be an incapable leader who rigged elections and oppressed the Buddhists. In a twist of event, the US supported a coup that had Ngo Dinh Diem killed in 1963. Between 1963 to 1965, South Vietnam was an unstable time as no government could hold power for a long. The North took this opportunity to expand their operations further down South with the aim of driving the Americans out and to unite Vietnam into one independent country once again.
The full fledged Vietnam War broke out in 1965. It ended in 1975 after many of Ho Chi Minh’s major offensive attacks on the Americans in the South led to the US viewing the war as unwinnable.
Interesting fact: When you tour Vietnam and is in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, you MUST visit the War Remnants Museum to get a better idea of the Vietnam War.
Vietnam after 1975
After the Vietnam War, it was a period of reconstructions as Vietnam was officially united in 1976. However, border tensions with Cambodia led by Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge regime caused Vietnam to invade Cambodia. Pol Pot was overthrown and a pro-Vietnamese government was installed in there until 1989. A few brief encounters with overseas Vietnamese organizations aiming to overthrow the Vietnamese government in the early 1980s saw the last of wars in Vietnam.
Interesting fact: Thanks to the invasion of Vietnam into Cambodia, millions of Cambodians were spared the genocide by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge.