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Vietnam Facts

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What is the capital of Vietnam?
Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital and second largest city (after Ho Chi Minh City). Hanoi has been a major political city of Vietnam since it was established in 1010, and served as the capital of French Indochina and North Vietnam.

What are Vietnam’s major cities?
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hanoi (capital)
  • Haiphong
  • Da Nang

Where is Vietnam located?
Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, at the easternmost point of the Indochina Peninsula. Vietnam runs along the Gulf of Tonkin, South China Sea, and the Gulf of Thailand.

What countries does Vietnam border?
Vietnam shares borders with Cambodia, Laos, and China .

What is Vietnam’s major religion?
Most Vietnamese consider themselves non-religious, though many still attend religious services. Vietnam’s government does not require an official religion, though it only recognizes Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Cao Dai, and Hoa Hao.

The main religion practiced in Vietnam is also the one that was introduced earliest, Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism, along with Confucianism and Taoism are considered the “Triple Religion” which all work with one another. Vietnamese culture also practices ancestor-worship, like much of Asia.

Catholicism was brought to Vietnam by European missionaries in the 16th century, and became popular when
Vietnam was a French colony. During the Nguyen Dynasty, Emperor Minh Mang felt that Catholicism threatened Confucianism, and discouraged its practice. Still, Catholicism influenced the country, and Roman Catholicism is still practiced by a minority of the people of Vietnam. Protestant Christianity is an even smaller minority in Vietnam.

Hoa Hao (a form of Buddhism) and Cao Dai are two religions of Vietnamese origin. Cao Dai is not generally accepted as a form of Buddhism.

What languages are spoken in Vietnam?
Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam, but languages such as Khmer and Cham are also spoken by minority groups in parts of the country. English, French, Chinese, and Japanese are other languages that are spoken and taught in Vietnam.

What is the currency of Vietnam?
Vietnam’s currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND)

When did France colonize Vietnam?
France began attacks on Vietnam’s Da Nang Harbor in 1847, after the Vietnamese government began suppressing the Catholic missionaries. The France military seized Saigon (which is now called Ho Chi Minh City), and the Emperor Tu Duc agreed to give France territories in Cochin China in the south. France began colonization of Vietnam, pushing northward in 1872. After Emperor Tu Duc died in 1883, the French saw their opportunity and took control, declaring the Indochinese Union in 1887.

How did Vietnam gain independence? What was the Vietnam War about?
Vietnam has been under the control of many different countries, and has fought for its independence several times. Vietnam first declared independence from China in AD 938. More recently, Vietnam was under French rule from the mid-19th century. Under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh, a communist party was created in February of 1930 and they soon began to fight for Vietnamese independence, calling his group Viet Minh.

During World War II, the Viet Minh resisted both the Japanese occupation of Vietnam and the French presence. The Japanese occupation created a huge famine, killing many Vietnamese people, and helping the Viet Minh group gain momentum. The United States sent aid to the Viet Minh, who held the August Revolution in 1945. On September 2, 1945 Ho Chi Minh declared independence for Vietnam. The French tried to take Vietnam back, and Ho Chi Minh surrendered in return for recognition as a free state of the French Union.

In November 1946, the Franco–Viet Minh War began with a French attack on Hanoi. France was greatly outnumbered and surrendered 8 years later on May 7, 1954.

The Geneva Conference was held to negotiate the end of the war, and Vietnam was split into North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was ruled by communist Ho Chi Minh, while South Vietnam was ruled by anti-communist, Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem.

In 1959, the North-South War broke out, which became known as the Vietnam War. The communist North was backed by the other communist countries in Asia, while the South was backed by the United States and other anti-communists in efforts to stop the spread of communism. The United States ended their involvement in the Vietnam War in August of 1973, and when the North Vietnam military took Saigon in April 1975, the war was over and North and South Vietnam were reunited under communist rule.


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