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State

Capital

Vietnam

Hanoi

Currency unit

Dong

Connections

Cambodia War

Francophonia

South East Asia

War Pollution

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

History

Indochina is one of the transition cultures between India and China but Vietnam's main cultural influences have been Chinese. The main religion was Buddhism, with a local version of Confucianism as well. Nevertheless there has been a long term hostility with China which still continues from being a vassal state as far back as the 15th century. Modern Vietnam was united in 1802 by an army officer who made himself Emperor Gin Long, based on Hué in the center.

The country was colonized by the French from 1883 until 1954 when France withdrew, following defeat in the war of independence. Their capital was Hanoi. The country was occupied by the Japanese during the second world war. In 1945 the Japanese handed over to a Nationalist Chinese army. The French then tried to restore the colonial regime but were resisted by Vietnamese nationalists led by Ho Chi Minh, who had declared a republic, using the same words as the American Declaration of Independence.

However, as in Cuba the Americans did not support the anti-colonial nationalists, forcing Ho Chi Minh to look for support from the Soviet Union.

The result was a war of independence. The French were defeated by the same tactics - at Dien Bien Phu - which later defeated the United States. The war with the French ended in 1954 with the Geneva agreements by which elections were to be held and a unified government formed. They were not observed by France's successor, the United States. Instead the country was divided into North and South Vietnam and a long war resulted between the two halves. The South Vietnam government was supported by American troops who tried to defeat the guerrillas supported by the north. The Soviet Union and China supplied the North, which had a Communist Government. Thus an aspect of the war was a proxy fight between the two super powers as part of the Cold War. (China was already hindering the Soviet Union).

The Americans believed the communist insurgency was similar to the guerrilla campaign in Malaya - but the Communists there had not had the support of the majority population, only of the Chinese, whereas in Vietnam the Vietcong were supported by a majority of the Vietnamese as nationalists, even if they would not have endorsed communism, had they understood it. Most Vietnamese saw the Americans, like the French, as colonial oppressors.

The war ended in 1975 with American withdrawal on recognition of the fact that the war could not be "won" and the impossibility of maintaining American forces due to demonstrations and resistance at home.

At the end of the war the country united.

The new government was faced with invasion from Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge. Vietnam then invaded Cambodia in 1979 and drove out the Khmer Rouge, installing a new government, friendly to Vietnam. This was one reason why Vietnam received no aid from the United States, despite an agreement that the Americans should pay limited reparations. There was also a border attack from China in 1979.

The only aid to the government came from the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, partly as a counter to Chinese influence. But this aid was cut when the Soviet Union ended and Comecon was dissolved. The country then had one of the lowest standards of living in the world.

China gave assistance to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia mainly as a means of restraining Vietnam, its traditional enemy.

Vietnam was a member of COMECON.

Some Vietnamese, especially those of Chinese origin, tried to flee the country after the end of the war. There are signs that, although emigration was illegal, the government assisted or at least did not oppose the flight of its citizens, especially if they were of Chinese origin. Many were killed on the sea when their makeshift boats were attacked by Thai or Malaysian pirates. The receiving governments, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Hong Kong tried to discourage emigration by imprisoning arrivals. Refugees in Hong Kong were sent back by the British government there.

Many observers believe that the attempts to emigrate could only be decreased by greater democracy and economic growth in the country. However, it ceased when the economy began to improve. Vietnam was admitted to ASEAN and resumed diplomatic relations with the US in August 1995.

Languages

Vietnamese

several minority langs.

Few people learn French now.

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

Politics

One of the evolving communist states. Some change has been allowed in the economy with a private small business sector but no change has occurred in politics. The Communist Party remains the only permitted political organization and political prisoners remain. No elections have been allowed yet.

They seem to be following the Chinese model.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

The economy was severely affected by war which lasted from 1940 until the 1970s. Much of it was destroyed by American bombing which damaged both the modern infrastructure and the traditional peasant economy. The land was made unfit for agriculture by the numerous bomb craters and the poisoning of the soil by chemicals. Only large inputs of capital could allow the economy to recover. But Vietnam had no access to international capital until 1994.

The state-controlled model imitating the Soviet Union prevented innovation and flexible response to people's needs. Some moves towards a market economy were introduced about 1989. Rapid growth began.

In 1994 the United States allowed Vietnam access to American capital. It is now possible that the country may join Korea and Singapore as one of the Asian Tigers and experience a rapid growth of wealth by the adoption of high investment policies in a quasi-capitalist framework.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

Destruction of the ecology by the effects of the Vietnam war is the main environmental problem. Large areas of the country consist of millions of bomb craters which are being filled in very slowly by hand tools. Many thousand square miles of country were destroyed by bombing and poisoned by the defoliants used by American forces, especially, the Mangrove swamps and much of the rain forest.

The Vietnamese are now the world experts on reestablishing rain forest and damaged environments.

The same chemicals contained dioxins which have seriously damaged the health of the people and led to a large number of deformed babies.

The United States has refused compensation.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

Human Rights

Standard communist human rights record: no freedom of press, assembly or judiciary.

Climate effects

Last revised 31/07/12


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