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History of Vietnam

The history of Vietnam can be traced back to around 20,000 years ago. Archaeological findings from 1965, still under research, show the remains of two hominins closely related to Sinanthropus, dating as far back as the Middle Pleistocene era, roughly half a million years ago.[1] Pre-historic Vietnam was home to some of the world's earliest civilizations and societies—making them one of the world's first people who practiced agriculture.[2][3] The Red River valley formed a natural geographic and economic unit, bounded to the north and west by mountains and jungles, to the east by the sea and to the south by the Red River Delta.[4] The need to have a single authority to prevent floods of the Red River, to cooperate in constructing hydraulic systems, trade exchange, and to fight invaders, led to the creation of the first legendary Vietnamese states approximately 2879 BC. While in the later times, archaeologists have suggested the Đông Sơn culture found in Northern Vietnam, Guangxi and Laos was around 700 BC. 

Vietnam's peculiar geography made it a difficult country to attack, which is why Vietnam under the Hùng kings was for so long an independent and self-contained state. Once Vietnam did succumb to foreign rule, however, it proved unable to escape from it, and for 1,000 years, Vietnam was successively governed by a series of Chinese dynasties: the Western Han, Xin, Eastern Han, Eastern Wu, Western Jin, Eastern Jin, Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang, Sui, Tang, Wu Zhou, and Southern Han. During these 1,000 years there were many uprisings against Chinese domination, and at certain periods Vietnam was independently governed under the Triệu, Trưng Sisters, Early Lý, Khúc and Dương Đình Nghệ—although their triumphs and reigns were temporary.

When Ngô Quyền (King of Vietnam, 938–944) restored sovereign power in the country with the victory at the battle of Bach Dang River, the next millennium was advanced by the accomplishments of successive local dynasties: Ngô, Đinh, Early Lê, Lý, Trần, Hồ, Later Trần, Later Lê, Mạc, Trịnh, Nguyễn, Tây Sơn and again Nguyễn. At various points during the imperial dynasties, Vietnam was ravaged and divided by civil wars and witnessed interventions by the Song, Yuan, Cham, Ming, Siamese, Qing, French, and Imperial Japan.

The Ming Empire conquered the Red River valley for a while before native Vietnamese regained control and the French Empire reduced Vietnam to a French dependency for nearly a century, followed by an occupation by the Japanese Empire. During the French period, widespread malnutrition and brutality from the 1880s until Japan invaded in 1940 created deep resentment that fueled resistance to post-World War II military-political efforts by France and the US.[8][9] Political upheaval and Communist insurrection put an end to the monarchy after World War II, and the country was proclaimed a republic.

Prehistoric periodEdit

Ethnolinguistic map of Indochina, 1970

Pottery fruit tray of the Sa Huỳnh people.

Cham script text

The various people arrived on territory, that constitutes the modern state of Vietnam in many stages, often separated by thousands of years. Australo-Melanesians were the first to settle in numbers during the Paleolithic and by around 30,000 years ago are present in all regions of Southeast Asia. In most lands they were eventually displaced from the coastal lowlands and pushed to the uplands and hinterlands by later immigrants.[10] The territories of modern central and southern Vietnam, originally not belonging to the Vietnamese kingdom were only conquered between the 14th and 18th centuries. The indigenous peoples of those lands had developed a distinct culture from the ancient Vietnamese in the Red River Delta region. The ancient Sa Huỳnh culture of present-day central Vietnam is known for the quantities of iron objects and decorative items made from glass, semi-precious and precious stones such as agate, carnelian, rock crystal, amethyst, and nephrite.[11] The Sa Huỳnh, who maintained an extensive trade network were most likely the predecessors of the Cham people.

The Cham people, who for over one thousand years settled in, controlled and civilized present-day central and southern coastal Vietnam from around the 2nd century AD are of Austronesian origin. The southernmost sector of modern Vietnam, the Mekong Delta and its surroundings was until the 18th century an integral part, yet of shifting significance of the Austroasiatic Proto-Khmer - and Khmer principalities, like Funan, Chenla, the Khmer Empire and the Khmer kingdom.

The classic core population, the Lạc Việt of the rice-farming Phung Nguyen culture and future nation builders, who had found themselves in the Red River basin are predominantly descendants of ancient agricultural communities of the Yangtze and southern and central China region, who have arrived in Indochina around 2000 years BC.[citation needed. 

Situated on the southeast edge of monsoon Asia, much of ancient Vietnam enjoyed a combination of high rainfall, humidity, heat, favorable winds, and fertile soil. These natural sources combined to generate an unusually prolific growth of rice and other plants and wildlife. This region's agricultural villages held well over 90 percent of the population. The high volume of rainy season water required villagers to concentrate their labor in managing floods, transplanting rice, and harvesting. These activities produced a cohesive village life with a religion in which one of the core values was the desire to live in harmony with nature and with other people. The way of life, centered in harmony, featured many enjoyable aspects that the people held beloved. Example included people not needing many material things, enjoyment of music and poetry, and living in harmony with nature.

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Fishing and hunting supplemented the main rice crop. Arrowheads and spears were dipped in poison to kill larger animals such as elephants. Betel nuts were widely chewed and the lower classes rarely wore clothing more substantial than a loincloth. Every spring, a fertility festival was held which featured huge parties and sexual abandon. Since around 2000 BC, stone hand tools and weapons improved extraordinarily in both quantity and variety. Pottery reached a higher level of technique and decoration style. The Vietnamese people were mainly agriculturists, growing the wet rice Oryza, which became the main staple of their diet. During the later stage of the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, the first appearance of bronze tools took place despite these tools still being rare. By about 1000 BC, bronze replaced stone for about 40 percent of edged tools and weapons, rising to about 60 percent. Here, there were not only bronze weapons, axes, and personal ornaments, but also sickles and other agriculture tools. Toward the closure of the Bronze Age, bronze accounts for more than 90 percent of tools and weapons, and there are exceptionally extravagant graves – the burial places of powerful chieftains – containing some hundreds of ritual and personal bronze artifacts such as musical instruments, bucket-shaped ladles, and ornament daggers. After 1000 BC, the ancient Vietnamese people became skilled agriculturalists as they grew rice and kept buffaloes and pigs. They were also skilled fishermen and bold sailors, whose long dug-out canoes traversed the eastern sea

Hồng Bàng dynastyEdit
Southern China (210 BC)

Lạc Long Quân's temple at Sim Hill (Phú Thọ)

According to a legend which first appeared in the 14th century book Lĩnh nam chích quái, the tribal chief Lộc Tục (c. 2919 – 2794 BC) proclaimed himself as Kinh Dương Vương and founded the state of Xích Quỷ in 2879 BC, that markes the beginning of the Hồng Bàng dynastic period. However, modern Vietnamese historians assume, that statehood was only developed in the Red River Delta by the second half of 1st millennium BC. Kinh Dương Vương was succeeded by Sùng Lãm (c. 2825 BC – ?). The next royal dynasty produced 18 monarchs, known as the Hùng Kings, who renamed their country Văn Lang.[19] The administrative system includes offices like Lạc tướng, Lạc hầu and Bố chính.[20] Great numbers of metal weapons and tools excavated at various Phung Nguyen culture sites in northern Indochina are associated with the beginning of the Copper Age in Southeast Asia.[21] Furthermore, the beginning of the Bronze Age has been verified for around 500 B.C. at Đông Sơn. The local Lạc Việt community had developed a highly sophisticated industry of quality bronze production, processing and the manufacturing of tools, weapons and exquisite Bronze drums. Certainly of symbolic value they were intended to be used for religious or ceremonial purposes. The craftsmen of these objects required refined skills in melting techniques, in the Lost-wax casting technique and acquired master skills of composition and execution for the elaborate engravings.[22][23]

Dong Son drum

The Legend of Thánh Gióng tells of a youth, who leads the Văn Lang kingdom to victory against the Chinese invaders, saves the country and goes straight to heaven.[24][25] He wears iron armor, rides an armored horse and wields an iron sword.[26] The image implies a society of a certain sophistication in metallurgy as well as An Dương Vương's Legend of the Magic Crossbow, a weapon, that can fire thousands of bolts simultaneously, seems to hint at the extensive use of archery in warfare. The about 1,000 traditional craft villages of the Hồng River Delta near and around Hanoi represented throughout more than 2,000 years of Vietnamese history the national industrial and economic backbone.[27] Countless, mostly small family run manufacturers have over the centuries preserved their ethnic ideas by producing highly sophisticated goods, built temples and dedicated ceremonies and festivals in an unbroken culture of veneration for these legendary popular spirits.

OFFICIAL NAMECong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam (Socialist Republic of Vietnam)FORM OF GOVERNMENTsocialist republic with one legislative house (National Assembly [500])HEAD OF STATEPresident: Nguyen Xuan PhucHEAD OF GOVERNMENTPrime Minister: Pham Minh ChinhCAPITALHanoiOFFICIAL LANGUAGEVietnameseOFFICIAL RELIGIONnoneMONETARY UNITdong (VND)POPULATION(2020 est.) 97,591,000POPULATION RANK(2019) 16POPULATION PROJECTION 2030103,196,000TOTAL AREA (SQ MI)127,889TOTAL AREA (SQ KM)331,231DENSITY: PERSONS PER SQ MI(2018) 740.4DENSITY: PERSONS PER SQ KM(2018) 285.9URBAN-RURAL POPULATIONUrban: (2018) 35%Rural: (2018) 65%LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTHMale: (2017) 70.9 yearsFemale: (2017) 76.2 yearsLITERACY: PERCENTAGE OF POPULATION AGE 15 AND OVER LITERATEMale: %Female: 0%GNI (U.S.$ ’000,000)(2017) 206,900GNI PER CAPITA (U.S.$)(2017) 2,160

DID YOU KNOW?
The name of Vietnam was once spelled as two words (Viet Nam, coming from the Vietnamese for "southern Viet people"), but is now generally spelled as a single word.

Vietnam, although still a developing country, is progressing quickly with the goal of being a developed economy by 2020. It has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the developing world.

Motorcycles have become so profilic in Vietnam that riders may be fined if caught by the police without a safety helmet.

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is one of just five communist countries still in existence. The other four are China, Cuba, Laos, and North Korea.

In the United States, the war fought in Vietnam from 1954 to 1975 is known as the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, it is known as the American War.

Tribal Viets inhabiting the Red River delta entered written history when China’s southward expansion reached them in the 3rd century BCE. From that time onward, a dominant theme of Vietnam’s history has been interaction with China, the source of most of Vietnam’s high culture. As a tribute-paying state after throwing off Chinese rule in 938 CE, Vietnam sent lacquerware, animal skins, ivory, and tropical products to the Chinese emperor and received scrolls on philosophy, administration, and literature in return. Sinic culture seeped deeply into society, but it shaped the aristocracy and mandarinal families more than it did the peasantry, which preserved distinctive customs, beliefs, vocabulary, lifeways, and gender relations. Modeling themselves on Chinese emperors, Vietnam’s kings exacted tribute from ethnic minorities on the periphery of the Vietnamese state and called themselves emperors when not addressing the Chinese court. Although cultural and spatial gaps between the Vietnamese court and the farthest reaches of society were not as great as they were in China (Vietnam is about the size of a Chinese province, with a comparable population), the Vietnamese state’s capacity to rule diminished with distance from the capital. The refractory character of bamboo-hedged peasant communes was captured in the cliché, "The emperor’s writ stops at the village gate."

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