Vietnam :: History

circa 111 BC The Chinese conquered the northern part of Vietnam and changed the name to Annam; they significantly influenced the Vietnamese during their rule of a thousand years.
AD 40 The Trung Sisters led a successful rebellion and drove the Chinese out for three years.
939 The Vietnamese drove out the Chinese and established the Vietnamese kingdom of Dai Co Viet (Great Viet State) in the north.

1009 The Ly family came to power and ruled the country for over 200 years.
Vietnamese art and culture thrived during the Ly Dynasty.
1225 The Tran family seized power from the Ly rulers and governed the country until 1400.
1407 China reestablished control of northern Vietnam.

1428 A wealthy landlord Le Loi led resistance forces to victory against the Chinese army.
Le Loi became Emperor of Le Thai To and established the kingdom of Dai Viet.
1471 Dai Viet conquered the Islamic kingdom of Champa which ruled central Vietnam.

Intermittent fighting between the north and south continued until 1673. In theory, the Le Dynasty controlled all of Vietnam but in practice, two families - the Trinh in the north and the Nguyen in the south - fought for control of the country. Both sides claimed to support the Le rulers.

1770s Three brothers who called themselves the Tay Son brothers rebelled against the Trinh family. Tay Son conquered southern Dai Viet and then marched against the Trinh family.
1787 Tay Son conquered the north, removed the Le rulers and controlled the whole of Vietnam for a brief period.

1802 Nguyen Anh (a member of the defeated Nguyen family) with the assistance of the French military defeated the Tay Son.
1802-20 Nguyen Anh united the northern and southern parts, declared himself Emperor Gia Long of all Dai Viet, which he renamed Vietnam. He set up its capital at Hue in the central region.

1861 France seized control of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and began establishing a colonial government in Vietnam.
1883 France controlled all of Vietnam (Tonkin in the north, Annam in the centre and Cochinchina in the south) as well as Laos and Cambodia.
1940 Japan assumed effective control of French Indochina.
1945 Japan forced Emperor Bao Dai to declare the independence of northern and central Vietnam from France.


After the war, Emperor Bao Dai stepped down and Communist leader Ho Chi Minh assumed power.

A nationalist coalition known as Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam an independent country. However, the French reclaimed southern Vietnam.
1954 The Communist-led Viet Minh defeated the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.
The French withdrew its troops from Vietnam.


As part of the peace talks, Vietnam was divided at the 17th Parallel into a Communist north and an anti-Communist south.

Ho Chi Minh became president of North Vietnam and Ngo Dinh Diem became the leader of South Vietnam.

1956 South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem began campaign against political dissidents and communist insurgency started.
1957 Backed by North Vietnam, Communist guerrillas called the Viet Cong began to rebel against the anti-Communist South Vietnamese government.
1963 The Viet Cong overthrew the Diem government, starting the Vietnam War.
1965 The United States (US) entered the war on the side of South Vietnam. However, American involvement in the war became unpopular in the United States.

The Cu Chi tunnels are part of an immense network of underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City. They were used by the Viet Cong as hiding places, communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters.
1968 U.S. Army forces killed some 300 to 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians including women, children and the elderly in a small village at My Lai. News of the My Lai massacre sent shockwaves throughout the United States.

A combined assault by Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army (known as the Tet Offensive) on US positions and the American Embassy stunned the United States.
1969 Ho Chi Minh died
1973 The US ended its military involvement and removed its last ground troops from Vietnam but the war continued.
1975 Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, fell to the Communists. North Vietnam won the war.

Thousands of Vietnamese including many "boat people" began fleeing the country.

1976 Vietnam was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
1978 Vietnam invaded Cambodia and removed the Khmer Rouge government. This angered the international community.
1979 China invaded Vietnam but was pushed back by Vietnamese forces.
1989 Vietnam claimed to have withdrawn all of its forces from Cambodia.

1990s Economic reform program known as "Doi Moi" or "new thinking" (launched in 1986) allowed limited private enterprise and encouraged foreign investment resulted in rapid economic progress.
1991 Relations with China normalised.
1994 US lifted its 30-year trade embargo. In return, Vietnam offered increased cooperation in providing information about soldiers killed or missing in the Vietnam War.
1995 Became a full member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
1996 The US reestablished full diplomatic relations with Vietnam.
1997 Le Kha Phieu became party leader, Tran Duc Luong president and Phan Van Khai prime minister.
2001 The Communist Party chose Nong Duc Manh as its new leader.

In December, US and Vietnam implemented a trade agreement which normalised the trade status between them.
2002 President Tran Duc Luong and Prime Minister Phan Van Khaire re-appointed for a second five-year term by National Assembly.
2007 In January, Vietnam joined the WTO (World Trade Organization).

In July, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reappointed and promised to push through economic reforms.