Vietnam: Modern History at a Glance


Vietnam has endured long periods of colonial rule over the last two millennia, along with centuries of great turmoil and continuous change.

1802: Gia Long, the first of 13 Nguyen Dynasty emperors, assumes throne.

1859-83: France establishes itself as Vietnam's colonial ruler

1925: Ho Chi Minh forms the first Indochinese Marxist group, the Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League, in China

1930: Ho Chi Minh founds Communist Party of Indochina 1940 - Japan takes control of Indochina but rules through a Vichy French administration during most of World War II

1941 - Ho Chi Minh forms League of Independence of Vietnam, also known as the Viet Minh.

1945: In March, Japanese-staged coup overthrows Vichy government. Japan governs Vietnam until it loses World War II in August, and Japanese troops surrender to Viet Minh nationalists rather than to the victorious Allies. Emperor Bao Dai's monarchy is abolished, and Ho Chi Minh declares independence and establishes the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

1946: French seek to regain control of Vietnam, navy shells northern port of Haiphong, killing around 6,000 civilians. Anti-French resistance war spreads across country.

1954: French defeated at Dien Bien Phu in May after long siege. At Geneva Conference on Indochina, Vietnam is divided between North and South at 17th parallel pending elections due in 1956. The elections never occur.

1955: Southern leader Ngo Dinh Diem rejects Geneva agreements, becomes president of Republic of Vietnam, known as South Vietnam

1959: Communist Party Central Committee supports insurgency in South. Weapons and men infiltrate down what becomes known as Ho Chi Minh Trail. Diem steps up campaign against dissidents.

1960: Communist National Liberation Front (NLF) established in Hanoi. U.S. increases aid to Diem.

1961: People's Liberation Army (Viet Cong) formed under the NLF. John F. Kennedy becomes U.S. president.

1962: United States has 12,000 military advisers in South Vietnam. "Strategic hamlet" scheme forces peasants to regroup in 16,000 fortified villages.

1963: In November, Diem overthrown and killed in U.S.-backed coup. President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas and is succeeded by his vice president, Lyndon Johnson.

1964: North Vietnamese patrol boats attack U.S. destroyer Maddox in Gulf of Tonkin. U.S. starts bombing North Vietnam. U.S. Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution allowing president to take steps "to prevent further aggression."

1965: U.S. Marines land at Danang on March 8, the first U.S. combat troops officially in Vietnam.

1967: The number of U.S. troops in Vietnam rises to 500,000. Anti-war rallies staged in U.S. cities.

1968: Viet Cong and National Liberation Front launch the Tet offensive on January 30-31, attacking U.S. and South Vietnamese positions across South Vietnam and killing tens of thousands of civilians. Siege of Khe Sanh. My Lai massacre in March. U.S. presence peaks at 549,000 troops. Preliminary peace talks open in Paris. President Johnson withdraws from presidential race, halts bombing of North Vietnam in October.

1969: President Richard Nixon begins withdrawing U.S. ground troops. Covert bombing of Cambodia starts. On September 2, Ho Chi Minh dies.

1970: Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho begin secret talks in Paris. On June 24, U.S. Senate repeals Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

1971: Only 139,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam by year-end. South Vietnamese forces take over military operations.

1972: North Vietnam Army strikes across 17th parallel. U.S. steps up bombing in North in attempt to expedite Paris peace talks, mines Haiphong Harbor.

1973: Kissinger and Le Duc Tho sign ceasefire in Paris against wishes of South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu. Peace agreement signed by all parties on January 27. U.S. troop pullout completed by end of March.

1975: Southern cities fall in succession until communist forces seize Saigon on April 30.Tens of thousands of South Vietnamese officials and army officers are rounded up for "re-education" in camps across the country. Exodus of refugees begins by boat and land. Tens of thousands believed to have drowned and hundreds of thousands of refugees resettle in Europe and the United States.

1976: In July, Vietnam reunified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV). Saigon is renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

1978: Vietnam invades Cambodia and topples Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge government, ending its four-year reign of terror.

1979: Western countries and non-communist Asia back a U.S.-led embargo against Vietnam to in protest against invasion of Cambodia. Vietnam fights a brief but extremely bloody border war with China, after which both sides claim victory.

1982: Vietnam agrees to talks on Americans who went missing in action (MIA) in the Vietnam War

1986: Vietnamese government launches Doi Moi ("renew" or "open-door") policy.

1989: Vietnam withdraws from Cambodia.

1991: The United States and Vietnam agree to establish a U.S. office in Hanoi to help determine the fate of MIAs. Washington proffers a "roadmap to normalization" and a lifting of the embargo.

1994: U.S. President Bill Clinton lifts the trade embargo on Vietnam.

1995: Washington and Hanoi normalize relations. Hanoi joins the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an organization founded in 1967 as a bulwark against communism.

2000: President Clinton becomes the first U.S. president to visit Vietnam.

2003: The U.S. Navy missile frigate USS Vandergrift docks in the port of Ho Chi Minh City-becoming the first U.S. ship to dock in Vietnam since the end of the war.


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