History of Vietnam

Vietnam has seen many phases of rules in its life here are the main historical periods in chronological order.

Pre-Dynastic era

The area now known as Vietnam has been inhabited since Paleolithic times, and some archaeological sites in Thanh Hoa Province reportedly date back several thousand years. Archaeologists link the beginnings of Vietnamese civilization to the late Neolithic, early Bronze Age, Phung-nguyen culture, which was centered in Vinh Phu Province of contemporary Vietnam from about 2000 to 1400 BCE. By about 1200 BCE, the development of wet-rice cultivation and bronze casting in the Ma River and Red River plains led to the development of the Dong Son culture, notable for its elaborate bronze drums. The bronze weapons, tools, and drums of Dongsonian sites show a Southeast Asian influence that indicates an indigenous origin for the bronze-casting technology. Many small, ancient copper mine sites have been found in northern Vietnam. Some of the similarities between the Dong Sonian sites and other Southeast Asian sites include the presence of boat-shaped coffins and burial jars, stilt dwellings, and evidence of the customs of betel-nut-chewing and teeth-blackening.

The legendary Hồng Bàng Dynasty of the Hùng kings is considered by many Vietnamese as the first Vietnamese state, known as Văn Lang. In 257 BCE, Thục Phán defeated the last Hùng king and consolidated the Lạc Việt tribes with his Âu Việt tribes, forming Âu Lạc and proclaiming himself An Dương Vương. In 207 BCE, a Chinese general named Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương and consolidated Âu Lạc into Nanyue. In 111 BCE, the Chinese Han Dynasty consolidated Nanyue into their empire.

For the next thousand years, Vietnam was mostly under Chinese rule. Early independence movements such as those of the Trưng Sisters and of Lady Triệu were only briefly successful. It was independent as Vạn Xuân under the Anterior Ly Dynasty between 544 and 602. By the early 10th century, Vietnam had gained autonomy, but not independence, under the Khúc family.

Dynastic era

In 938 CE, a Vietnamese lord named Ngô Quyền defeated Chinese forces at the Bạch Đằng River and gained independence after 10 centuries under Chinese control. Renamed as Đại Việt, the nation went through a golden era during the Lư and Trần Dynasties. During the rule of the Trần Dynasty, Đại Việt repelled three Mongol invasions of Vietnam. Following the brief Hồ Dynasty, Vietnamese independence was momentarily interrupted by the Chinese Ming Dynasty, but was restored by Lê Lợi, the founder of the Lê Dynasty. Feudalism in Vietnam reached its zenith in the Lê Dynasty of the 15th century, especially during the reign of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông. Between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Vietnamese expanded southward in a process known as nam tiến (southward expansion). They eventually conquered the kingdom of Champa and part of the Khmer Empire.

Towards the end of the Lê Dynasty, civil strife engulfed much of Vietnam. First, the Chinese-supported Mạc Dynasty challenged the Lê Dynasty's power. After the Mạc Dynasty was defeated, the Lê Dynasty was reinstalled, but with no actual power. Power was divided between the Trịnh Lords in the North and the Nguyễn Lords in the South, who engaged in a civil war for more than a hundred years. The civil war ended when the Tây Sơn brothers defeated both and established their new dynasty. However, their rule did not last long and they were defeated by the remnants of the Nguyễn Lords with the help of the French, who established the Nguyễn Dynasty

French Colonial era

Vietnam's independence ended in the mid-1800s, when the country was colonized by the French Empire. The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. A Western-style system of modern education was developed, and Christianity was introduced into Vietnamese society. Developing a plantation economy to promote the exports of tobacco, indigo, tea and coffee, the French largely ignored increasing calls for self-government and civil rights. A nationalist political movement soon emerged, with leaders such as Phan Boi Chau, Phan Chu Trinh, Emperor Ham Nghi and Ho Chi Minh calling for independence. However, the French maintained dominant control of their colonies until World War II, when the Japanese war in the Pacific triggered the invasion of French Indochina in 1941. This event was preceded by the establishment of the Vichy French administration, a puppet state of Nazi Germany then ally of the Japanese Empire. The natural resources of Vietnam were exploited for the purposes of the Japanese Empire's military campaigns into the British Indochinese colonies of Burma, the Malay Peninsula and India.

First Indochina War

In the final years of the Pacific war, a forceful nationalist insurgency emerged under Ho Chi Minh, committed to independence from French colonial rule and communism. Following the military defeat of the Japanese Empire and the fall of its Empire of Vietnam colony in August 1945, Vietnamese nationalist and communist forces fought the newly restored Free French colonial administration, with the "Declaration of Independence - Democratic Republic of Vietnam" on 02 September 1945 [1]. The Provisional French Republic sent the French Far East Expeditionary Corps, which was originally created to fight the Japanese occupation forces, in order to pacify the revolutionary rebellion. In 1946, the Chinese troops withdrew from north Vietnam and following the Haiphong incident ensued the First Indochina War that lasted until 1954.

Despite reduced losses -1/3 ratio of Expeditionary Corps casualities compared to the China-backed Viet Minh- during the whole war, the U.S. backed-French and Vietnamese loyalists eventually suffered a major strategic defeat at the Siege of Dien Bien Phu that allowed Ho Chi Minh to negotiate the ceasefire with a favorable position in the ongoing Geneva conference of 1954. Colonial administration ended as French Indochina was dissoluted, and the contested State of Vietnam ceased to exist. According to the Geneva Agreements the country was divided at the 17th parallel into Ho Chi Minh's North Vietnam and Ngo Dinh Diem's South Vietnam in the model of Korea

Vietnam War

The communist-held Democratic Republic of Vietnam was opposed by the US-supported Republic of Vietnam. Disagreements soon emerged over the organizing of elections and reunification, and the U.S. began increasing its contribution of military advisers. U.S. forces were soon embroiled in a guerrilla war with the Viet Cong, the insurgents who were indigenous to South Vietnam. North Vietnamese forces unsuccessfully attempted to overrun the South during the 1968 Tet Offensive and the war soon spread into neighboring Laos and Cambodia, both of which the United States bombed.

With its own casualties mounting, the U.S. began transferring combat roles to the South Vietnamese military in a process the U.S. called Vietnamization. The effort had mixed results. The Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973 formally recognized the sovereignty of both sides. Under the terms of the accords all American combat troops were withdrawn by March 29, 1973. Limited fighting continued, but all major fighting ended until the North once again sent troops to the South on April 30, 1975. South Vietnam briefly became the Republic of South Vietnam, under military occupation by North Vietnam, before being officially integrated with the North under communist rule as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 2, 1976.


Upon taking control, the Vietnamese communists banned other political parties, arrested people believed to have collaborated with the U.S. and sent them to reeducation camps. The government also embarked on a mass campaign of collectivization of farms and factories. Reconstruction of the war-ravaged country was slow and serious humanitarian and economic problems confronted the communist regime. Millions of people fled the country in crudely-built boats, creating an international humanitarian crisis[2][3]. In 1978, the Vietnamese Army invaded Cambodia to remove the Khmer Rouge from power. This action worsened relations with China, which launched a brief incursion into northern Vietnam in 1979. This conflict caused Vietnam to rely even more heavily on Soviet economic and military aid.

Renovation (Đổi Mới)

In a historic shift in 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam implemented free-market reforms known as Đổi Mới (Renovation). With the authority of the state remaining unchallenged, private ownership of farms and companies, deregulation and foreign investment were encouraged. The economy of Vietnam has achieved rapid growth in agricultural and industrial production, construction and housing, exports, and foreign investment. It is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. See Economy section for more detail.

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