The sophisticated Bronze Age Dong Son culture emerged around the 3rd
century BC. From the 1st to the 6th centuries AD, the south of what is
now Vietnam was part of the Indianised kingdom of Funan, which produced
fine art and architecture. The Hindu kingdom of Champa appeared around
present-day Danang in the late 2nd century and had spread south to what
is now Nha Trang by the 8th century. The kingdom existed in part through
conducting raids in the region. The Chinese conquered the Red River Delta
in the 2nd century and their 1000-year rule, marked by tenacious Vietnamese
resistance and repeated rebellions, ended in AD 938 when Ngo Quyen vanquished
the Chinese armies at the Bach Dang River.
During the next few centuries, Vietnam repulsed repeated invasions by
China, and expanded its borders southwards from the Red River Delta, populating
much of the Mekong Delta. In 1858, French and Spanish-led forces stormed
Danang after several missionaries had been killed. A year later, Saigon
was seized. By 1867, France had conquered all of southern Vietnam, which
became the French colony of Cochinchina.
Communist guerillas under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh resisted French
domination during and after WWII. Ho Chi Minh's declaration of Vietnamese
independence in 1945 sparked violent confrontations with the French, culminating
in the French military defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
The Geneva Accords of 1954 temporarily divided Vietnam into two zones
(the Communist north and the anti-Communist, US-supported south). Political
and ideological opposition quickly turned to armed struggle, prompting
the USA and other countries to commit combat troops in 1965. The Paris
Peace Agreements, signed in 1973, provided an immediate cease-fire and
signalled the withdrawal of US troops. Saigon eventually capitulated to
the Communist forces on 30 April 1975.
Going straight from the fat into the frying pan, Vietnam had barely drawn
breath from its war with America when it found itself at loggerheads with
Khmer Rouge forces along the Cambodian borders. A protracted round of
fighting eventually saw China enter the fray in support of Cambodia and
the killings continued until the UN brokered a deal, with Vietnamese forces
being pulled out of Cambodia in 1989. Although the Khmer Rouge continued
to snipe from the borders, it was the first time since WWII that Vietnam
was not officially at war with any other nation. The end of the Cold War
and the collapse of the USSR in 1991 caused Vietnam and Western nations
to seek rapprochement.
In July 1995 even the intransigent USA re-established diplomatic relations
with Hanoi, although Hanoi initially refused to sign trade agreements
with the US in 1999 (this was finalised the following year). The US, on
their part, talked about normalising relations but over 25 years later
there's still a lot of soul-searching, hand-wringing and post mortems
going on, accompanied by a slather of angst-ridden films and a handful
of unplugged guitar tunes. John McCain, on a visit to Hanoi, talked about
'the wrong guys winning the war'. Vietnam went through something of a
postwar economic boom, before suffering the economic setbacks that plagued
the entire region when the foreign investment bubble burst in the late
1990s. It has recently recovered part of this ground with some pundits
predicting it will be the next Asian 'tiger' economy.
*The above information was obtained from
www.lonelyplanet.com and Youth International
wants to acknowlege all due credit to the source of the information.