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Tuesday 24th October
Vietnam Information - Page 2
History
Vietnam has been inhabited for many thousands of years. The early Vietnamese state was known as Van Lang.

China conquered the area and ruled for over a thousand years. After various short-lived uprisings, the Chinese were finally driven out in the tenth century. Invasions by Mongol armies of Kublai Khan were also repelled.

Vietnam remained independent for hundreds of years until French colonisation in the nineteenth century. French rule lasted until the mid twentieth century, apart from Japanese occupation during the Second World War.

In 1945 Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader, declared a democratic republic in Hanoi; resistance to French colonisation continued until 1954. Peace talks in Geneva divided Vietnam into North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

Communists from the North began to infiltrate the South and American aid and support was given to South Vietnam.

The United States entered the Vietnam War (the Second Indochina War) in 1964 with bombing raids in the North. By 1967 there were 500,000 American troops in Vietnam. After many Vietnamese and Americans lost their lives, a ceasefire was negotiated and US troops withdrew in 1973.

In 1975 North Vietnamese troops took control of the whole of Vietnam uniting the North and the South forming the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Economy
The World Bank estimated that fifty-eight percent of the population of Vietnam lived in poverty in 1993. Within nine years the figure had fallen to twenty-nine percent. The United States lifted its embargo on trade with Vietnam, imposed after the Vietnam War, in 1994. By 2004 Vietnam was considered one of the fastest growing countries in Asia.

Vietnam is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the World Trade Organization.

The agricultural sector is a major employer producing rice, soybeans, coffee, tea, sugarcane, bananas, rubber, poultry and fish. Consequently, food processing is an important industry. Other industries include mining, cement, oil, coal, steel, machine-building, chemical fertilizer, glass, paper, clothes and shoes.

Money remitted by Vietnamese people living abroad is a major source of hard currency. Tourism is also a source of foreign exchange. (2008)

Arts
Vietnam has a long tradition of classical literature and poetry. The Tale of Kieu is Vietnam's national epic poem.

The Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts houses examples of Vietnam's ceramics, lacquerware, paintings, sculpture and wood carvings.

Music is an important part of life in Vietnam; there are a number of traditional orchestras and a National Symphony Orchestra.

Cultural institutions are the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet Theatre, and the Hanoi National Dance Academy and Opera Houses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Sport
The best known traditional sports in Vietnam are probably the martial arts such as taekwondo.

In the 2000 Olympics, Hieu Ngan Tran became the first Vietnamese athlete to win an Olympic medal: Silver for taekwondo.

Other sports played in Vietnam include archery, athletics, swimming, tennis and football.

Chess is also a favourite pastime. Another popular board game is Mahjong.

Holidays
Holidays and celebrations include Saigon Liberation Day - 30 April, International Labour Day - 1 May, National Day and Independence Day (1945 from France) - 2 September, the Lunar New Year (February) and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

News
News from Vietnam is available from Newslink.

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