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History & Politics of Vietnam
Vietnam officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a nation in Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, to its northwest by Laos and to its southwest by Cambodia. To its east lies the South China Sea. With a population of approximately 84 million, Vietnam is one of the most densely populated nations in Southeast Asia.
The name of the country comes from the Vietnamese Vi?t Nam, which means the land of the Viet people in the South (Nam). Having been ruled intermittently by Chinese dynasties, Vietnam achieved independence in the 10th century. In the mid-19th century, Vietnam became a part of French Indochina. During World War II, Vietnam was occupied by Japan. After World War II, Vietnamese nationalists waged a 9-year Indochina War for independence from France. When communist forces gained control of North Vietnam, the civil war with South Vietnam soon became a part of the U.S.-led global campaign against communism. Following the withdrawal of U.S. forces, communist forces overran South Vietnam in 1975.
The Vietnam War had devastated the nation's economy and infrastructure, killing millions of civilians. Under communist rule, Vietnamese forces overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime of Cambodia and fought a brief war against China in 1979. After a decade of communist policies, Vietnam began experimenting with free-market economics in the 1980s, and today is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Although agriculture remains important to the people of rural Vietnam, the nation is also host to modern industries. Despite extensive reforms and development, the government and political life is firmly controlled by the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Historical & Tourist Attractions in Vietnam
About 160km from Hanoi, near the port of Haiphong, is Ha Long Bay. This is an amazing complex of 3000 chalk islands rising out of the South China Sea. The area is strange, eerie and very beautiful. Many of the islands contain bizarre cave formations and grottoes. Near Ha Long Bay is Catba Island, a designated National Park and a rich repository of plants and wildlife.
About 250km north of Hanoi, high in the Hoang Lien Mountains, is the old hill station of Sapa. This area is inhabited by the Hmong and Zhao hill tribes. Every weekend there is a market when the local tribespeople come into town to trade. In the evening, they celebrate with huge amounts of potent rice alcohol. It is absolutely vital that when visiting this area tourists are sensitive to local culture and traditions. If one follows the road from Sapa 200km (125 miles) further into the mountains (this can only realistically be attempted by jeep), one reaches Dien Bien Phu, scene of the humiliating defeat of the French by the Viet Minh that finally put paid to French colonial occupation in Indochina. This is a wild, beautiful and remote region.
Popular Attractions in Vietnam are Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Renaissance Riverside, Cu Chi, Danang, Hoi An, China Beach, Hue