General Information About Vietnam ( Part 2)
The Hindu kingdom of Champa appeared around present-day Danang in the late 2nd century and had spread south to what is now Nha Trang by the 8th century. The Chinese conquered the Red River Delta in the 2nd century and their 1000-year rule, marked by tenacious Vietnamese resistance and repeated rebellions, ended in 938 AD when Ngo Quyen vanquished the Chinese armies at the Bach Dang River. During the next few centuries, Vietnam repulsed repeated invasions by China, and expanded its borders southwards from the Red River Delta, populating much of the Mekong Delta.
In 1858, French and Spanish-led forces stormed Danang after several missionaries had been killed. A year later, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) was seized. By 1867, France had conquered all of southern Vietnam, which became the French colony of Cochin-China. Communist guerillas under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh resisted French domination. Ho Chi Minh’s declaration of Vietnamese independence after WWII sparked violent confrontations with the French, culminating in the French military defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The Geneva Accords of 1954 temporarily divided Vietnam into two zones (the Communist north and the anti-Communist, US-supported south). Political and ideological opposition quickly turned to armed struggle, prompting the USA and other countries to commit combat troops in 1965. The Paris Peace Agreements, signed in 1973, provided an immediate cease-fire and signalled the withdrawal of US troops. Saigon eventually capitulated to the Communist forces on 30 April 1975.
Going straight from the fat into the frying pan, Vietnam had barely drawn breath from its war with America when it found itself at loggerheads with Khmer Rouge forces along the Cambodian borders. A protracted round of fighting eventually saw China enter the fray in support of Cambodia and the killings continued until the UN brokered a
deal, with Vietnamese forces being pulled out of Cambodia in 1989. Although the Khmer Rouge continued to snipe from the borders, it was the first time since WWII that Vietnam was not officially at war with any other nation. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR in 1991 caused Vietnam and Western nations to seek rapprochement.
In July 1995 even intransigent America re-established diplomatic relations with Hanoi although the diplomatic handshake appeared limp-wristed and begrudging when Hanoi refused to sign trade agreements with the US in 1999. The US, on their part, talked about normalising relations but 25 years later there’s still a lot of soul-searching,
hand-wringing and post mortems going on, accompanied by a slather of angst-ridden films and a handful of unplugged guitar tunes. Matters aren’t helped by spokespersons such as John McCain who, on a recent visit to Hanoi, talked about ‘the wrong guys winning the war’. Vietnam went through something of a postwar economic boom but in recent years the economy has slowed and the country is at a crossroads, although some commentors predict it will be the next Asian ‘tiger’.
Vietnam officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Cộng hòa xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam, About this sound listen (help·info)), is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the East Sea (Vietnamese: Biển Đông), to the east. With a population of over 86 million, Vietnam is the 13th most populous country in the world.
Located in South East Asia, Vietnam starts to emerge as a major tourist attraction. Vietnam has two main cities, the political capital Hanoi and the economic capital Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon).
Square Miles : 125,138 square miles (325,359 sq. km)
Borders : 2,386 miles (3,841km) total, bordering the countries of Cambodia
(west), Laos (west) and China (north).
Coastline : 2,153 miles (3,466km) excluding islands.The coastline lies on the Southeast Asia Sea.
Terrain : The north and south parts of Vietnam are characterized by low, flat deltas. Central Vietnam consists mostly of highlands. Hilly, mountainous terrain is prominent in the far north and northwest. The peninsula is S-shaped, and there are thousands of offshore islands and archipelagos. The largest islands are the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong
Sa (Spratly) archipelagos.
Vietnam People & Culture
The Viet culture originated on the delta of the Red River and the Ma River where the Viet people cultivated paddy fields. They led a simple farming life in small villages, usually living around a communal house. Today the people living in the countryside follow this lifestyle. The Viet people are influenced by Confucianism, in particular the principle of respect for their elders. In spite of the immense suffering of the Vietnamese and the somewhat ruined state of the country, they are generally warm and friendly, and surprisingly, the Vietnamese bear little if any resentment or bitterness toward Americans. Children in the streets will commonly greet visitors with the name Lien Xo, which means Russian, but they will easily be corrected if you respond, Hello! or Good morning and explain you are an American.
Ethnic Groups: The country is predominantly 85-90% Vietnamese, 3% Chinese, ethnic minorities include Muong, Thai, Meo, Khmer, Man, Cham, and other mountain tribes.
Languages: Vietnamese is the official language; French, Chinese, English, Khmer and tribal dialects (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian) are also spoken.
The Vietnamese language belongs to a language group which was established a long time ago in East Asia. Changes in material conditions over many centuries and the increasing demands of cultural life have influenced the Vietnamese language.
While adopting many elements of the Chinese language, the Vietnamese people changed many Chinese words, gradually creating Han-Viet (Chinese-Vietnamese) which incorporated purely Vietnamese words. Vietnamization not only applied to the Chinese language, but also to French and other language groups, creating a diverse vocabulary for the Vietnamese language.
When the multi-ethnic Vietnamese nation was taking shape, a great monarchy was established in the North, and it began a southward expansion. The Vietnamese nation underwent thousands of years of Northern domination. This was why Chinese was used for a long time as the official written language. Local mandarins of various levels were allowed to sit for examinations in the Northern Court (China), and were recruited into the administrative machinery of foreign invaders.
Based on Chinese characters, the Vietnamese worked out a unique writing system of their own called Chu Nom. In Chu Nom, two Chinese characters were usually combined, one of which indicated the meaning of the Vietnamese word, while the other indicated pronunciation. Chu Nom was welcomed and widely used by the masses in their daily life, as well as in transcribing their national history and literature. According to researchers, Chu Nom probably originated around the end of the Northern domination period and early in the 10th century (the independence period). The oldest evidence of Chu Nom currently available is a stele in the Bao An Pagoda in Yen Lang, Vinh Phu province, dating back to 1209 AD (Ly Dynasty). It was not until the 13th century under the Tarn dynasty that Chu Nom was systematized and used in literature. Nguyen Thuyen (alias Han Thuyen) and Nguyen Si Co wrote poems in Chu Nom. Ho Quy Ly (1400 AD) made Chinese textbooks which translated the Vietnamese language using the Chu Nom writing system. He also used Chu Nom to write royal proclamations and ordinances. In the 15th century, Nguyen Trai, a national hero, used Chu Nom to write 250 poems in Quoc Am Thi Tap (Collection of Poems in the National Language). The Chu Nom literature continued to be developed from the 16th century onwards and
totally dominated national literary circles. Ba Huyen Thanh Quan (the wife of the Chief of Thanh Quan district), Cao Ba Quat and Kieu Story of Nguyen Du, and the translation of Chinh Phu Ngam (Lament of a Wife Whose Husband has Gone to War) by Doan Thi Diem were quite noteworthy poems. In conjunction with the development of the nation, the Vietnamese language was constantly developed and improved. Around the 17th century, western missionaries came to Vietnam and learned Vietnamese in order to disseminate Catholicism. They developed a romanced script to represent the Quoc Ngu (meaning national language) in order to translate prayer books and catechisms. A number of Portuguese and Italian missionaries used Quoc Ngu to compile catechisms and Portuguese-Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Portuguese dictionaries. Based on these works, Alexandre de Rhodes, a French Jesuit missionary, published the Vietnamese Portuguese-Latin dictionary which was a fundamental catechism in Rome from 1649-1651. After Alexandre de Rhodes, Quoc Ngu was further improved by foreign missionaries and Vietnamese scholars.
In 1867, some colonial schools began to teach Quoc Ngu. It was not until early in the 20th century that Quoc Ngu became widely used in the local primary educational system. The introduction of Quoc Ngu constituted a new step in the development of the Vietnamese language. While romanization received a reserved welcome in other Asian countries, it recorded extraordinary success in Vietnam, creating favorable conditions for cultural and intellectual development.