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Vietnamese History

Vietnam’s history dates back over 500,000 years ago and through its time it has been controlled by its stronger neighbours (China) or by more recent history the French, as Vietnam formed part of the French colony of Indochina, along with Cambodia and Laos.

With Vichy French agreement, in 1941, the Japanese occupied Vietnam during their World War II sweep through South East Asia. The resistance to the Japanese was led by the Indochinese Communist Party, formed by Ho Chi Minh in 1930, and its armed wing, the Viet Minh. Following the Japanese defeat in 1945, the Communists proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In 1946, France sent a large expeditionary force to re-establish their control. After eight years of fierce fighting, the struggle ended in the defeat of the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu (1954) and the French never returned, but you can still see today the old French Colonial buildings that have been left behind.

In 1956 the Geneva Agreement provided for the temporary partition of North and South to be re-unified, following general elections. Unfortunately, due to the Cold War at the time Western countries saw that the Communist North were stronger and would sweep into power.  The Americans became the new Western power in Vietnam and they put their own Western-backed government in the south. The Communist north didn’t like this and they started an insurgency in to try and overflow the Western-backed government as they saw it as a threat. By 1962 the Americans were sending troops in as the stage was set for a full-scale war between the southern Communist guerrillas (known as the Viet Cong), the North Vietnam Army and their backers in China and the Soviet Union on one side, and, on the other side, the Americans and the ARVN (the South Vietnamese army). In 1973, after enough pressure back the States to bring the troops home, the Americans finally pulled out. This lead to the victory of the Communist north three years later and the country was unified under one country. The Vietnamese army, the strongest in South-East Asia then clashed with Chinese troops and undertaken a full-scale invasion and occupation of Cambodia to drive out the genocide Khmer Rouge regime. Vietnamese troops finally withdrew from Cambodia in September 1989, as their economy was getting worse due to the withdrawal of aid and subsidised goods from the former USSR, as well as the continuing US-organised trade boycott instituted after the US withdrawal.

In 1991, the Communist Party was determined to make some changes and restore relations with its neighbours China and Cambodia. It later resulted in full membership with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The economic dividends were clear in as much as six of the top seven foreign investors in Vietnam were ASEAN members. Relations with a more recent foe, the USA, also eased during the 1990s, after President Clinton disposed of the American trade embargo on Vietnam in February 1994. Full diplomatic relations were restored the following year and in 2000, Clinton paid an official visit to Vietnam.

Today, the Vietnam economy is growing rapidly at a rate of seven percent per year. The tourist door is wide open and the whole world is now able to see what beautiful country Vietnam is and the government even though is Communist has good relations with most countries in the world.

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