V

Vietnam

Located in South East Asia, Vietnam is a country covering 331,212 and it has currently 89,708,900 inhabitants.
According to the 2009 census, the dominant Viet  ethnic group constituted nearly  85.8% of the population. They live mainly in the deltas and coastal plains of the country.
Archaeological excavations have revealed the existence of  prehistoric humans in what is now Vietnam as 500,000 BC. By about 1000 BC, the development of wet-rice cultivation and bronze-casting in the Ma River  and the red-river floodplains led to the flourishing of the Đông Sơn culture, notable for its elaborate Bronze drums. The Non-La is a conical hat made out of palm leaves and is the traditional dress of female farmers.  The Văn Lang  is considered the first Vietnamese state, in 1,000 BC ruled by the Hùng king. The Hùng king were defeated by  Thục Phánin 257 BC. Under the name An Dương Vương. expanded the territory to include the Viet tribes and the area became known as Âu Lạc.  In 207, General Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương, and Âu Lạc and the area became known as Nanyue. In 111 BC, Nanyue was incorporated into the Han Empire of China after its defeat in the Han-Nanyue war. Rebellions such as the ones by the Trung sisters and Lady Trieu, were only temporarily successful, though the region gained a longer period of independence as Vạn Xuân under the Ly dynasty between AD 544 and 602. By the early 10th century under the Khuk family, Vietnam had gained autonomy, but not sovereignty. In AD 938, the Vietnamese lord Ngo Quyen defeated the forces of the Chinese Han state at Bach Đăng River and achieved full independence for Vietnam. Renamed as Đại Việt (Great Viet), the nation enjoyed a golden era under the Lý and Trần dynasties. Vietnamese developed their own set of characters, referred to as Chữ nôm.  During the rule of the Trần Dynasty, Đại Việt repelled three Mongol invasions.  Meanwhile, Buddhism, flourished and became the state religion. Independence was interrupted in 1406–7 when it was briefly ruled by the Chinese Ming Dynasty.  The Vietnamese dynasties reached their zenith in the Lê dynasty of the 15th century, especially during the reign of Emperor . Between the 11th and 18th centuries, Vietnam expanded southward in a process known as nam tiến eventually conquering the kingdom of Champa and part of the Khmer Empire.  

From the 16th century onwards, civil strife and frequent political infighting engulfed much of Vietnam. First, the Chinese-supported Mac dynasty challenged the Lê dynasty's power. After the Mạc dynasty was defeated, the Lê dynasty was nominally reinstalled, but actual power was divided between the northern Trinh lords and southern Nguyễn Lords who engaged in a civil war  for more than four decades before a truce was called in the 1670s. , During this time, the Nguyễn annexed southern Vietnam into the Khmer lands in the Mekong Delta. The Tây Son brothers established a new dynasty. However, their rule did not last long, and they were defeated by the remnants of the Nguyễn lords, led by Nguyễn Anh  and aided by the French. Nguyễn Ánh unified Vietnam, and established the ruling of the Nguyễn dynasty under the name Gia Long. Vietnam's independence was gradually eroded by France -  aided by large Catholic militias – in a series of military conquests between 1859 and 1885. In 1862, the southern third of the country became the French colony of Cochinchina. Catholic jesuit missionary  Jesuit Alexandre de Rhodes latinized the Vietnamese alphabet Quốc ngữ  and it became widely popular and brought literacy to the Vietnamese masses during the French colonial period.By 1884, the entire country had come under French rule and was formally integrated into the union of French Indochina in 1887. The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. A Western-style system of modern education was developed, French settlers established themselves in Saigon in the area of Cochinchina. The French largely ignored increasing calls for Vietnamese self-government and civil rights. A nationalist political movement soon emerged, with leaders such as Ho Chi Minh asking for independence. A mutiny was suppressed in 1930, - during the Second World War,  the Japanese allowed Vichy France to  keep control of Vietnam, in March 1945, Japan invaded Vietnam and installed a puppet state. The subsequent famine caused two million deaths. Ho Chi Minh was leading the Viet Minh a Marxist-Leninist movement which challenged Emperor Bao Doi puppet state and proclaimed independence in the city of Hanoi. The French government sent a colonial army  to help against the Viet Minh in 1946, and the  French and their allies were defeated by the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu. The colonial administration was ended and French Indochina was dissolved under the Geneva Accords of 1954, which divided the country into two zones: at the north the Viet Minh and in the demiliterized south the state of Vietnam  led by Bao Doi. The partition was not meant to be permanent, elections were to be held in 1956. However, in 1955, the State of Vietnam's Prime Minister Diệm toppled Bao Doi and declared independence. The Communist Viet Cong who opposed Diệm stated a started a guerilla campaign. On both sides of the border, opposition was crushed.The Diệm era was followed by more than a dozen successive military governments, between 1967 and 1971, the government became unstable and the Viet Cong gained ground. To support South Vietnam's struggle against the communist insurgency, the United States began increasing its contribution of military advisers, using the 1964 Tonkin incident as a pretext,  500,000 US soldiers were deployed. At the same time, China and the Soviet Union provided North Vietnam with significant material aid and 15,000 combat advisers which passed through Laos. The communists attacked South Vietnamese targets during the 1968 Tet offensive. US public opinion turned against the war, and the US gradually disengaged between 1970 and 1973. In December 1974, North Vietnam captured Saigon. The war ended in 1975, with the unification of Vietnam. The war left Vietnam devastated, with the total death toll standing at between 800,000 and 3.1 million. The government of Le Duan embarked on a mass campaign of collectivization of farms and factories, this also meant that about 300.000 South Vietnamese died - either through imprisonment, execution or forced labour. Many fled the country in rudimentary boat and these refugees became known as the Boat People. In 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia to remove the pro-China Khmer Rouge who had been targeting the Northern border. This meant that Vietnam could now only rely on the Soviet Union for help. Following Gorbatchev's changes in the Soviet Union,  Communist Party of Vietnam replaced their old guard with reformists. This is known as  Đổi Mới. The government encouraged private ownership of farms and factories, economic deregulation and foreign investment, while maintaining control over strategic industries, yet the Communist party and its affiliates control politics. A fact which was re-iterated in the 2013 constitution leading the media to conclude that the  leadership are "ardently capitalist communists". History took its toll, yet Vietnam is the proud owner of an incredible historical heritage. 



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