Keypoints of the history of Vietnam

The history of Vietnam is marked by conflicts that forged its national identity. Today, Vietnam is at peace and focuses on its development. Yesterday’s patriotism turned into a desire to cooperate and all kind of exchanges, especially with France, due to a long common history as well as by special affectional ties.

From the Van Lang kingdom to the Nam Viet (more than 200BC-111BC): The mythical Hung kings ruled over the country of Van Lang, which became Au Lac under the Thuc, then Nam Viet under the Trieu. It was the civilisation of Dong Son, with its famous skilled bronze drums. Nam Viet was invaded by the Han (Chinese) in 111BC.

Chinese feudalism and resistance by the Viets (111BC-938AC): The Han and their successors imposed their Chinese customs and habits on the Viets, with an uneven and in some respects rather vain success. Nevertheless dominations and supressed uprisings alternate for 1 000 years . In 938AC the rebellion led by Ngo Quyen leads to the creation of an independent state.

The national dynasties (939AC-1858AC):
– Reinforced national identity, victory over the Chinese and internal contradictions. Ngo Quyen creats an independent state (Ngo dynasty). The end of the Ngo’s reign is marked by the division of the country in feudal fiefs. Dinh Bo Linh imposes his law on the 12 warlords and founded the Dai Co Viet in 968. After him, the Ly, the Tran, the Ho, the Lê, the Tay Son and the Nguyen succeeded one another.
– Under the Ly (1012-1225) and the Tran (1226-1400) the victories over China (Song and Yuan), as well as the growth of buddhism reinforce the national identity.
– The Lê settle after the victory over the Ming (China) from 1428 to 1773. The end of their reign is characterized by the country’s division into lordships of the Nguyen (South) and the Trinh (North) as well as by the farmers’ rebellions.
– The Tay Son headed by Nguyen Hue reunite the country (1773-1802) and expell the Tsing. The Empereur Gia Long manages to defeat the Tay Son and establishes the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945).
– Western occupations and liberation wars (1858-1975).

The French colonization and the first war of Vietnam, important dates:
1858: The French land in Danang (central port).
1867: Cochinchina (South) becomes a French colony.
1883: Annam (centre) and Tonkin (North) are placed under French protectorate.
1945: Ho Chi Minh proclaimes the independence of Vietnam in Hanoi on 2 September 1945.
1946: A French attempt to reestablish their authority and beginning of the first war of Vietnam.
1954: On 7 May 1954 Dien Bien Phu falls and the garrison of 16 000 soldiers is made prisoners. On 20 July 1954 the Geneva Agreements are signed recognising Vietnam’s independence, sovereignty and integrity. The 17th parallel will be a military demarcation line and general elections will have to take place in the whole country in order to reunify it.

The American intervention and the second war of Vietnam
1956: Ngo Dinh Diem, the president in Saigon, supported by the American administration, refuses the elections promised by the Agreements. The first American military advisors land in the South and the second war of Vietnam begins.
1968: The American intervention reaches the number  of 500,000 GI’s on location. 7 million tons of bombs are dropped, which is 3 times more than on the whole of Europe during World War II. The Têt Offensive takes place (during New Year). The Paris conference begins.
1973: Signing of the Paris Agreements. The withdrawal of the American troops starts.
1975: Spring Offensive. End of the Saigon regime on 30 April 1975.
1976: Vietnam is officially unified and  takes the name the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Saigon becomes Ho Chi Minh City again (name voted by the first National Assembly in 1945).