Country in Southeast Asia, occupying the eastern half of the Indochinese Peninsula. Vietnam comprises Annam, Tonkin and Cochin China, which have been under Chinese control or influence for most of their history since 111 B.C. In 1854, France began to extend its control in the area, which was completed by 1884. During World War II, Vietnam was occupied by the Japanese, who supported the regime of Emperor Bao Dai of Annam. The Vietminh League, a union of nationalists aiming for an independent Vietnam, grew up in opposition to the Japanese, and in 1945, deposed Bao Dai, declaring Vietnamese independence.
During 1946-54, France fought the Vietminh, hoping to preserve its Indo-Chinese Empire. In July 1949, the State of Vietnam was established under Bao Dai, in association with the French Union. The defeat of France by the Vietminh forces, which had come under communist control, brought the partition of the country in 1954. The northern half became the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and in the following year, the southern portion became the Republic of Vietnam.
Republic of Vietnam (1954-)
A republic occupying the eastern half of Indochina. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was established in 1954, after the defeat of French forces by the nationalist Vietminh. The North continued to support the communist Vietcong in the South against the South Vietnamese regime, increasing its aid after 1959. In 1964, North Vietnamese troops began to fight in the South, bringing the United States actively into the war. During 1965-69, the war was largely a stalemate, with neither side able to achieve any permanent success. Growing domestic opposition to the U.S. involvement in the war brought a cease-fire in January 1973, after which U.S. forces were withdrawn, and U.S. aid to the South was reduced. In early 1975, a renewed communist offensive brought about the rapid collapse of the South Vietnamese regime, and a communist government was installed in the South. In 1976, the two countries were merged into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Millions of South Vietnamese were forcibly resettled in the countryside, and hundreds of thousands fled the country.
After its 1975 victory, Vietnam effectively controlled Laos and, in 1978-79, established a client regime in Kampuchea. A Chinese invasion of Vietnam in February 1979 brought heavy fighting but did not escalate into a full-blown war. Chronic economic problems began to improve when Vietnam began to liberalize its economy in 1986. In 1988 it began to withdraw some of its forces from Laos and Cambodia. During 1975-94, the United States maintained a trade embargo (which included postage stamps) against Vietnam, but this ended in 1994, and in 1995 full diplomatic relations between the two countries were established. During the past few years, political controls have been relaxed, and Vietnam is pursuing a policy of economic growth by encouraging foreign investment.
of Vietnam (South Vietnam) (1955-75)
status: inactive; Population: 16.5 million (1975 estimate). After the loss
of the northern half of Vietnam to the communists in 1954, the southern
portion of the country withdrew from the French Union and deposed its
ruler, Bao Dai. On Oct. 26, 1955, the Republic of Vietnam was established.
After 1956, fighting with the communists continued, the southern communist
Vietcong being supported and supplied by North Vietnam. The United States
supported the South with aid and, after June 1965, with troops.
After 1969, because
of growing opposition to involvement among Americans, the United States
began to reduce its involvement, and in January 1973, a cease-fire between
the United States, North Vietnam and the Vietcong provided for the
withdrawal of U.S. forces. The United States reduced aid to the South,
weakening that regime's position, so that in early 1975, a North
Vietnamese invasion, in violation of the cease-fire, quickly brought the
South Vietnamese collapse. A Provisional Revolutionary Government, under
North Vietnamese direction, assumed control of the South in May 1975, and
the country was reunited as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 2,