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Vietnam - Historical Overview

Early History
Van LangHung dynasty2879 BC496 BC
Van LangLac dynasty496 BC257 BC
An Lac Thuc dynasty257 BC207 BC
Nam Viet Trieu dynasty207 BC11 BC
Chinese Millenium
Giao ChiHan dynasty (first part)111 BCAD 203
Giao ChauHan dynasty (second part)203544
Van XuanLy dynasty544603
An NamDuong dynasty603939
Independence and Expansion
Dai Co VietDinh dynasty9681054
Dai VietLy dynasty10541225
Dai VietTran dynasty12251400
Dai NguHo dynasty14001407
Ming Chinese Interregnum14061428
Dai VietLe dynasty14271788
Dai VietTay Son Uprising17761802
VietnamNguyen dynasty18021954
Indochinese Union[ France ] 18871954
RVN - Republic of Vietnam19541975
DRV - Democratic Republic of Vietnam19451976
SRV - Socialist Republic of Vietnam1976current

The sound "Viet" is the pronunciation of a Chinese character meaning "far off," "beyond," or "to cross over, to go beyond." In the Chinese mind, the word conveyed the idea of a distant land, far away from China proper. The word Viet was used for the first time in the eleventh century BC, during the Chu dynasty (1050-249 BC), to designate territories located southeast of China and on the Pacific border. A descendent of Emperor Vu was crowned king of all of these remote countries-the Viet countries - around 1042 BC. The first kingdom of the Viet was founded on the southern coast of China in 1042 BC, and the first Viet Chuong or Lac Viet kingdom in North Vietnam at the beginning of the fifth century BC.

Under the emperors Yao and Chun, this country was called Nan-kiao and under the Tsin, Siang-kun; at the beginning of the Han dynasty, it was named Nan-yuei; Hanou-ti gave it the name of Kiao-tchi. In AD 679 under the reign of the Tang emperor Kaotsong (Tiao-loo) the Chinese province composed of Tong-king and Cochinchina received the Name of Ngan-nan (Peaceful south), Tong-king\ which means Court of the East in the same manner Pe-king is the Northern Court and Nan-king the Southern Court, is in contradistinction to Si-king (Court of the West), the name of Cochin-china. Tong-king, in annamite is called Dang-ngoai (the road without), Cochinchina being Dong-trong (the road within). The Annamites say that they are going in where they travel to the South, and going out where they march northwards. Dinh Bo Linh, defeated his rivals in 968 and called his new state Dai Co Viet (Great Viet State). The Chinese continued to refer to it as Annam.

It was after one of the victories over Champa in 1069 that Thanh-Tong, the third Ly emperor and one of the greatest Vietnamese sovereigns, renamed the country Dai-Viet (Greater Viet). The country kept this name until 1802, when Emperor Gia Long Gia-long, the conqueror of Tong-king (in 1802) gave to An-nan the name of Viet nam or Nam-viet. The name Viet Nam came from the ancient dependency of the Nguyen (Nguyen = Source). Nguyen Anh took the Emperor as deigning to give a name to the States that he had come to reunite. Westerners who started arriving in the eighteenth century gave the name Cochin-Chine to the whole territory governed by the Nguyen, but distinguished between Lower Cochin-Chine - the Mekong delta - and the rest up to the Dong Hoi wall.

Throughout 2,000 years of recorded history - to which legend adds 2,000 more - the Vietnamese have been sustained by a feeling of unity based on common origin, language and cultural heritage. They are intensely proud of having been an independent and unified nation for centuries, although they also experienced periods of disunity and foreigu domination. They take equal pride in their cultural heritage, regarded by them as an eloquent testimony to their eclectic and creative talents for absorbing foreigu cultures without themselves losing distinct political identity.

In the evolution of Vietnamese society and culture, much of the formative influence came from China, whose colonial officials and traders were largely responsible for the transmission of the Chinese way of life. The Chinese influences intermingled freely with the indigenous culture, known as Dong-Son (Indonesian), which dates from around the fourth century BC and was then centered in the Red River Delta. A striking feature of Vietnam's history is the story of its relations with China, its vastly larger and more powerful neighbor to the north. Over the centuries the Vietnamese have admired China for its superior culture and feared it for its power. During the 1,000 years (second century B.C. to the tenth century A.D.) that the country was ruled directly by China, the people accepted discriminately much of the dominant culture, but politically they were inclined to be militantly anti-Chinese.

Gradually the Vietnamese progressed southward, but still along the coast. For the first time, after fifteen centuries of settlement in North Vietnam, they came to Annam in 1069, Hue in 1306, Quang Ngai in 1402, Binh Dinh in 1470, Phu Yen in 1611, Nha Trang in 1653, Saigon in 1674, Phan Thiet in 1697, and Ha Tien in 1714.



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