History of Vietnam
The history of Vietnam begins around 2,700 years ago. Successive dynasties based in China ruled Vietnam directly for most of the period from 111 BC until 938 when Vietnam regained its independence. Vietnam remained a tributary state to its larger neighbor China for much of its history but repelled invasions by the Chinese as well as three invasions by the Mongols between 1255 and 1285.
Evidence of the earliest established society other than the prehistoric Iron Age Đông Sơn culture in Northern Vietnam was found in Cổ Loa, an ancient city situated near present-day Hà Nội.
Recently the discovery of artificial circular earthworks in the areas of present day southern Vietnam and overlapping to the borders of Cambodia. These archaelogical remains are estimated to be economical, social and cultural entities from the 1st millennium BCE.
By the 3rd century BC, another Viet group, the Âu Việt, emigrated from present-day southern China to the Red River delta and mixed with the indigenous Van Lang population. In 258 BC, a new kingdom, Âu Lạc, emerged as the union of the Âu Việt and the Lạc Việt, with Thục Phán proclaiming himself "King An Dương Vương".
In 111 BC, Chinese troops invaded Nam Việt. While the Chinese were governors and top officials, the original Vietnamese nobles (Lạc Hầu, Lạc Tướng) still managed some highlands.
During the Tang dynasty, Vietnam was called Annam (Giao Châu), until the early 10th century AD. The "History of Later Han" (Hậu Hán Thư, Hou Hanshu) recorded that in 166 AD the first envoy from the Roman Empire to China arrived by this route, and merchants were soon to follow.
In 938, Southern Han sent troops to conquer autonomous Giao Châu. Ngô Quyền, Dương Đình Nghệ's son-in-law, defeated the Southern Han fleet at the Battle of Bach Dang River (938). He then proclaimed himself King Ngô and effectively began the age of independence for Vietnam.
Emperor Lê Hoàn's death in 1005 AD resulted in infighting for the throne amongst his sons. The eventual winner, Lê Long Đĩnh, became the most notorious tyrant in Vietnamese history.
During the Trần Dynasty, the armies of the Mongol Empire under Mongke Khan and Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan dynasty invaded Vietnam in 1257 AD, 1284 AD, and 1288 AD.
The Trần dynasty was overthrown by one of its own court officials, Hồ Quý Ly. Hồ Quý Ly forced the last Trần king to resign and assumed the throne in 1400. He changed the country name to Đại Ngu (Hán tự: 太虞) and moved the capital to Tây Đô, warships and cannon, and land reform. He ceded the throne to his son, Hồ Hán Thương, in 1401 and assumed the title Thái Thượng Hoàng, in similar manner to the Trần kings.
In 1471, Le troops led by king Lê Thánh Tông invaded Champa and captured its capital Vijaya. This event effectively ended Champa as a powerful kingdom, although some smaller surviving Cham kingdoms still lasted for a few centuries more. The city of Huế, founded in 1600 lies close to where the Champa capital of Indrapura once stood. In 1479, King Lê Thánh Tông also campaigned against Laos and captured its capital Luang Phrabang. He made further incursions westwards into the Irrawaddy River region in modern-day Burma before withdrawing.
The civil war between the Lê/Trịnh and Mạc dynasties ended in 1592, when the army of Trịnh Tùng conquered Hanoi and executed king Mạc Mậu Hợp. Trịnh Tráng succeeded Trịnh Tùng, his father, upon his death in 1623. Tráng ordered Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên to submit to his authority. The order was refused twice. In 1627, Trịnh Tráng sent 150,000 troops southward in an unsuccessful military campaign. The Trinh were much stronger, with a larger population, eocnomy and military, but they were unable to vanquish the Nguyen, who had built two defensive stone walls and invested in Portuguese artillery.
In 1784, during the conflict between Nguyễn Ánh, the surviving heir of the Nguyễn Lords, and the Tây Sơn Dynasty, a French Catholic Bishop, Pigneaux de Behaine, sailed to France to seek military backing for Nguyen Anh. At Louis XVI's court, Pigneaux brokered the Little Treaty of Versailles which promised French military aid in return for Vietnamese concessions.
Under the orders of Napoleon III of France, French gunships under Rigault de Genouilly attacked the port of Đà Nẵng in 1858, causing significant damages, yet failed to gain any foothold. De Genouilly decided to sail south and captured the poorly defended city of Gia Định (present-day Saigon). From 1859 to 1867, French troops expanded their control over all 6 provinces on the Mekong delta and formed a French Colony known as Cochin China.
In 1940, during World War II, Japan invaded Indochina, keeping the Vichy French colonial administration in place as a Japanese puppet. In 1941 Hồ Chí Minh, formerly known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, arrived in northern Vietnam to form the Việt Minh Front, short for Việt Nam Độc Lập Đồng Minh Hội.
In early 1945, due to a combination of Japanese exploitation and poor weather, a famine broke out in Tonkin killing between 1 and 2 million people (out of a population of 10 million in the affected area.
When the Japanese surrendered to the Allies in August 1945 a power vacuum was created in Vietnam. Capatilizing on this, the Việt Minh launched the "August Revolution" across the country to seize government offices. Emperor Bảo Ðại abdicated on August 25, 1945, ending the Nguyễn Dynasty. On September 2, 1945 Hồ Chí Minh declared Vietnam independent under the new name of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and held the position of Chairman (Chủ Tịch).
In 1947 full scale war broke out between the Viet Minh and France. On May 7 1954, French troops at Điện Biên Phủ, under Christian de Castries, surrendered to the Viet Minh and in July 1954, the Geneva Accord was signed between France and the Viet-Minh, paving the way for the French to leave Vietnam.
Between 1963 and 1967, South Vietnam was extremely unstable as no government could keep power for long. There were more coups, often more than one every year. The Communist-run NLF expanded their operation and scored some significant military victories. In 1965, the US, then under President Lyndon Johnson, decided to send troops to South Vietnam to secure the country and started to bomb North Vietnam, assuming that if South Vietnam fell to the Communists, other countries in the Southeast Asia would follow, in accordance with the Domino Theory.
In 1969, Hồ Chí Minh died, leaving wishes that his body be cremated. However, the Communist Party embalmed his body for public display and built the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum on Ba Đình Square in Hà Nội, in the style of Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow.
In early 1975, North Vietnamese military led by General Văn Tiến Dũng launched a massive attack against the Central Highland province of Buôn Mê Thuột.. In early April 1975, South Vietnam set up a last ditch defense line at Xuân Lộc, under commander Lê Minh Đảo. North Vietnamese troops failed to penetrate the line and had to make a detour, which the South Vietnamese failed to stop due to lack of troops. President Nguyễn văn Thiệu resigned. Power fell to Dương Văn Minh.
Duong Van Minh ordered a surrender on April 30 1975, sparing Saigon from destruction.
After April 30, 1975, unlike the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Vietnamese Communists did not commit a "blood bath", but most government officials and military personnel were sent to reeducation camps.
In 1976, Vietnam was officially unified and renamed Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRVN), with its capital in Hà Nội.
Vietnam's third Constitution, based on that of the USSR, was written in 1980. The Communist Party was stated by the Constitution to be the only party to represent the people and to lead the country.
In 1980, cosmonaut Phạm Tuân became the first Vietnamese person and the first Asian to go into space, travelling on the Soviet Soyuz 37 to service the Salyut 6 space station.
Throughout the 1980s, Vietnam received nearly $3 billion a year in economic and military aid from the Soviet Union.
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