Jun 15, 2009

Vietnam's history

Visitors to Vietnam will notice that, invariably, the major streets of every city and town bear the same two dozen or so names. These are names of Vietnam's greatest national heroes who, over the last 2000 years, have led the country in its repeated expulsion of foreign invaders and whose exploits have inspired subsequent generations of patriots.

History of Vietnam, according to Vietnamese legends, dates back more than 4,000 years. The only reliable sources, however, indicate the Vietnamese or their country's history roughly dates to 2700 years ago. For most of the period from 111 BC to early 10th century, it was under the direct rule of successive dynasties from China. Vietnam regained autonomy in 939 AD, and complete independence a century later. While for much of its history, Vietnam remained a tributary state to the much larger neighbor -- China, it repelled repeated attempts by China to make it once again part of the Middle Kingdom empire, including the three invasions by the Mongols during the Yuan Dynasty, when China was under Mongolian rule. But ruler at the time, Tran Nhan Tong (Trần Nhân Tông), would eventually diplomatically submit as a tributary of the Yuan to avoid further conflicts. The independent period temporarily ended in mid-19th century, when the country was colonized by France. During World War II, Japan expelled the French to occupy Vietnam, though they retained French administrators during their occupation. After the war, France attempted to re-establish its colonial rule but ultimately failed. The Geneva Accords partitioned the country in two with a promise of democratic election to reunite the country.

That election never took place, but gave way, depending on one's perspective, to a civil war, or another battle field of then ongoing global ideological conflict,The Cold War -- the Vietnam War. During this time,the North was supported by the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union, while the South was supported by the United States. After millions of Vietnamese deaths, and the American withdrawal from Vietnam in March 1973, the war ended with the capture of Saigon by the North in April 1975. Due to then heightened ongoing ideological and economic conflicts of The Cold War, and its invasion of Cambodia, Vietnam remained internationally isolated and politically oppressed. In 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam changed its economic policy and started to move towards reform of the private sector similar to that seen in China. Since the mid-eighties Vietnam has enjoyed some economic growth and reduction in political repression though reports of corruption in the country have also risen.