Long controlled and influenced by the Chinese, it enjoyed nine centuries of independence, until, in the 19th century, the French colonial period began. In 1887, Vietnam became a part of French Indochina.
At the end of World War II Vietnam declared its independence, however, France continued its control until soundly defeated by Ho Chi Minh's Communist forces in 1954.
Shortly thereafter, based on the Geneva Accord, Vietnam was divided into two parts; the Communist North and the anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam began to grow and serious conflict was on the horizon.
In March, 1965, the first American troops landed in South Vietnam, and the bloody conflict called the Vietnam War began.
After tens of thousands died on both sides, and billions in military expenditures, this sad, tragic war finally ended in 1973.
Two years later the remains of the South's army fell, and Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, and North and South joined together as one.
For the next few decades, Vietnam, demoralized by the affects of war, remained economically stagnant. Over the last five years Vietnam's government has made a series of changes (reforms) designed to make the country more competitive in the 21st Century, and by all accounts, it's working.
Learn more about Vietnam here.
A statue of Ho Chi Minh, a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary and statesman who was Prime Minister (1946 - 1955) and President (1946 - 1969) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). In Vietnam today, he is regarded with almost god-like status by the Communist government.