Ho Chi Minh City began as a
small fishing village known
as Prey Nokor. The area that
the city now occupies was originally
swampland, and was inhabited
by Khmer people for centuries
before the arrival of the Vietnamese.
It should be noted that in Khmer
folklore that Southern Vietnam
was given to the Vietnamese
government as a dowry for the
marriage of a Vietnamese princess
to a Khmer prince in order to
stop constant invasions and
pillaging of Khmer villages.
In 1623, King Chey Chettha II
of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed
Vietnamese refugees fleeing
the Trinh-Nguyen civil war in
Vietnam to settle in the area
of Prey Nokor, and to set up
a custom house at Prey Nokor.
Increasing waves of Vietnamese
settlers, which the Cambodian
kingdom, weakened because of
war with Thailand, could not
impede, slowly Vietnamized the
area. In time, Prey Nokor became
known as Saigon.
In 1698, Nguyen Huu Canh, a
Vietnamese noble, was sent by
the Nguyen rulers of Hu? to
establish Vietnamese administrative
structures in the area, thus
detaching the area from Cambodia,
which was not strong enough
to intervene. He is often credited
with the expansion of Saigon
into a significant settlement.
A large Vauban citadel called
Gia Dinh was built, which was
later destroyed by the French
over the Battle of Chi Hoa.
Conquered by France in 1859,
the city was influenced by the
French during their colonial
occupation of Vietnam, and a
number of classical Western-style
buildings in the city reflect
this, so much so that Saigon
was called "the Pearl of
the Far East" (Hon ngoc
Vien D Former Emperor Bao Dai
made Saigon the capital of the
State of Vietnam in 1950 with
himself as head of state. After
the Vietminh gained control
of North Vietnam in 1955, the
Saigon government was renamed
the Republic of Vietnam, commonly
referred to as South Vietnam.
Saigon and Cholon, a adjacent
city with many Sino-Vietnamese
residents, were combined into
an administrative unit called
Do Thanh Sai Gon ("Capital
At the conclusion of the Vietnam
War, on April 30, 1975, the
city came under the control
of the Vietnam People's Army.
In the U.S. this event is commonly
called the "Fall of Saigon,"
while the communist Socialist
Republic of Vietnam call it
the "Liberation of Saigon."
In 1976, upon the establishment
of the unified communist Socialist
Republic of Vietnam, the city
of Saigon (including Cholon),
the province of Gia Dinh and
2 suburban districts of two
other nearby provinces were
combined to create Ho Chi Minh
City in honour of the late communist
leader H? Chí Minh. The
former name Saigon is still
widely used by many Vietnamese,
especially in informal contexts..
Generally, the term Saigon refers
only to the urban districts
of H? Chí Minh City.
The word "Saigon"
can also be found on shop signs
all over the country, even in
The area around modern Hanoi has
been inhabited since at least 3000
BC. One of the first known permanent
settlements is the Co Loa citadel
founded around 200 BC.
Hanoi has had many names throughout
history, all of them of Sino-Vietnamese
origin. During the Chinese domination
of Vietnam, it was known as Tong Bình
and later Long Do. In 866, it was
turned into a citadel and was named
In 1010, Ly Thai Tho the first ruler
of the Ly Dynasty, moved the capital
of Dai Viet to the site of the Dai
La Citadel. Claiming to have seen
a dragon ascending the Red River,
he renamed it Thang Long a name still
used poetically to this day. It remained
the capital of Vietnam until 1397,
when the capital was moved to Thanh
Ho also known as Tay Do (Western Capital).
Thang Long then became Dong Do ( Eastern
In 1408, Vietnam was invaded by Chinese
troops from the Ming Dynasty and Ðông
Ðô was renamed DongQuan
(Eastern Gateway) by the Chinese.
In 1428, Vietnam was liberated from
Chinese rule by Le Loi the founder
of the Le Dynasty and Ðông
Quan was renamed Dong Kinh Eastern
Capital - the name known to Europeans
as Tonkin. The same characters are
used for Tokyo, Japan). During the
Tay Son Dynasty, it was named Bac
In 1802, when the Nguyen Dynasty was
established and then moved the capital
down to present-day Hue, it was renamed
Thang Long ( "ascending dragon").
However, the second syllable of the
toponym is actually a homonym of the
word long, and so, actually suggests
“to flourish” as opposed
to “dragon”. Therefore,
the name would then have appeared
as roughly to ascend and flourish.
In 1831 the Nguyen Dynasty renamed
it Ha Noi can be translated as Between
Rivers or River Interior) . Hanoi
was occupied by the French in 1873
and passed to them ten years later.
It became the capital of French Indochina
The city was occupied by the Japanese
in 1940, and liberated in 1945, when
it became the seat of Vietnam's government.
From 1946 to 1954, it was the scene
of heavy fighting between the French
and Viet Minh forces. At that point,
the city became the capital of an
independent North Vietnam.
During the Vietnam War Hanoi's transportation
facilities were disrupted by the bombing
of bridges and railways, which were,
however, promptly repaired. Following
the end of the war, Hanoi became the
capital of Vietnam when North and
South Vietnam were reunited on July
On August 1, 2008, Hanoi absorbed
the neighboring province of Ha Tay,
Vinh Phuc's Me Linh district, and
three communes from Luong Son, Hoa
Binh, effectively tripling its size.
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