Vietnam History


















In 938 A.D. the Vietnamese put an end to China’s occupation of the Red river Delta, bringing to an end a ruling time that had started in the first century B.C. which the Vietnamese managed to cling to their cultural identity during a thousand years of occupation that says much about their tenacity, a lesson that has been re-taught in more recent times.

From their cradle in the northern Red river delta the Viet moved south, absorbing the Kingdom of Champa in what is now central Vietnam in the 14th century. The official founding of Saigon (now renamed Ho Chi Minh City) took place only some three centuries ago.

French forces imposed colonial rule on Vietnam in 1883, starting an era of anti-colonial resistance that would span the next eight decades. Having fought the Japanese occupation of Vietnam, when World War II ended, the Viet Minh, led by President Ho Chi Minh, declared the nation to be independent. The French rejected Vietnam’s independence and tried to regain their control, leading to open warfare that ended with the Viet Minh’s astonishing victory at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954.

The Geneva Accords of mid-1954 temporarily divided the country. When the southern regime led by Ngo Dinh Diem refused to hold elections in 1957, Vietnam fell into a kind of civil war or the war of two different ideologies. The United States, which supported the southern regime of Diem, sent its first combat troops to Vietnam in 1965. In 1973 the Americans withdrew, their former allies were forced to surrender on April 30th, 1975 known as the Saigon fall, at which time the nation was reunified under communist administration.

A period of economic and political isolation from much of the capitalist world followed. By  the late 1980s, in response to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the loss of its economic support, Vietnamese Government eased restrictions and began to liberalize its trade policies, allows private enterprise, encourages foreign trade, investment and travel  (this turning point is called Doi moi). Diplomatic relations with the US were resumed in 1995 and Vietnam has been riding fast on its new flourishing track.


Vietnamese History is filled with a struggle to maintain independence.

1st Century AD

The Indian-influenced Kingdom of Funan flourishes in the Mekong Delta.

2nd Century AD

China conquers the Red River Delta near Hanoi.

The Cham Empire builds in the Danang area.

10th Century AD

Vietnam declares indepedence from China. Despite the 1000 years of Chinese occupation, the Vietnamese had still managed to preserve their cultural identity.

10th Century to 15th Century AD

Vietnam successfully overcomes attacks by the Khmers, Chams, Mongols and Chinese.

The Viet of the northern Red River Delta move south, absorbing the Cham Empire into a growing Vietnam.

16th Century

European merchants and missionaries trickle into Vietnam. This included Alexandre de Rhodes who developed the quoc ngu script that is still used today in Vietnam.


Several missionaries are killed in Vietnam. Outraged, a French military force and militia from a Spanish colony in the Philippines storm Danang.


The French military force seizes Saigon.


France forces colonial rule on Vietnam. This stirs up anti-colonial resistance.


Ho Chi Minh founds the Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League.


Ho Chi Minh founds the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP).


In response to Japan’s invasion, the Indochinese Communist Party puts together a guerrilla force called the Viet Minh.


The Viet Minh seize power and Ho Chi Minh announces Vietnam’s independence. The French refuse to accept this.


French Forces attack Viet Minh in Haiphong in November. This incident sparks the war of resistance against the colonial power.


Viet Minh Forces attack an isolated French military outpost in the town of Dien Bien Phu. The fighting lasts for two months, during which time the French government agrees to peace talks in Geneva. At the Geneva conference, Vietnam is split into North and South.


South Vietnam refuses to hold elections and Vietnam falls into a civil war.


Weapons and men from North Vietnam begin infiltrating the South.


America, who supports the southern regime of Ngo Dinh Diem, increase their aid.


Number of US military advisors in South Vietnam rises to 12,000.


The communist guerrillas known as the Viet Cong defeat units of the South Vietnamese Army and President Diem is overthrown.


The US commence bombing raids on North Vietnam.


200,000 American combat troops arrive in South Vietnam.


US troop numbers in Vietnam swell to 400,000.


US troop numbers rise to 500,000.


A combined assault by the Viet Cong and the People’s Army of Vietnam (North Vietnamese Army) against the US and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) begins. The operation was called the Tet Offensive because a “cease fire” had been agreed upon during the Tet festivities – Lunar New Year Celebrations. The Viet Cong broke the agreement and launched an attack campaign that began during the early morning hours of 30 January 1968. There were many casualties on both sides.


Ho Chi Minh passes away. As opposition to the war increases amongst the US public, Nixon begins pulling US ground troops out of Vietnam.


US National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, and Le Duc Tho, for the Hanoi government, commence talks in Paris.


Ceasefire agreement is made. US troops withdraw.


North Vietnamese Troops invade South Vietnam. South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh surrenders and the North Vietnamese take control of Vietnam.


The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is founded. Saigon is re-named Ho Chi Minh City.


New constitution is adopted allowing certain economic freedoms.


The US lifts its 30-year trade embargo.


Vietnam and the US restore full diplomatic relations.


Vietnam and the US implement a trade agreement which normalizes the trade status between them.


The first US Warship to visit since the Vietnam War sails into port near Ho Chi Minh City.


The first US commercial flight since the Vietnam War touches down in Ho Chi Minh City.


Vietnamese Prime Minister, Phan Van Khai, makes the first visit to the US by a Vietnamese leader since the Vietnam War.


Vietnam becomes the 150th member of the World Trade Organization.

Vietnamese Government approves a $33billion plan to build a high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


Vietnam takes up a two-year, non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

China and Vietnam resolve the border dispute.


Hanoi celebrated its 1000 year anniversary in 2010, a major milestone for the city and a proud moment for the Vietnamese to celebrate.