Vietnam country profile

time:2023-06-02 12:38:09source:Al Jazeera author:Press center6

Vietnam, a one-party Communist state, has been one of south-east Asia's fastest-growing economies. It has been a unified country since 1975, when the armed forces of the Communist north seized the south.

This followed three decades of bitter wars, in which the Communists fought first against the colonial power France, then against South Vietnam and its US backers. In its latter stages, the conflict held the attention of the world.

Alongside its economic growth, Vietnam is also beset by high levels of corruption, political censorship and a poor record on human rights.

President: Nguyen Xuan Phuc

Vo Van Thuong was appointed to the largely ceremonial post of president by the national assembly on March 2023. He is the youngest person to hold this position.

Communist Party General Secretary: Nguyen Phu Trong

In Vietnam, real power resides in the post of general-secretary of the Communist Party, which has been held by Nguyen Phu Trọng since 2011.

As general secretary he heads the party's secretariat, is secretary of the Central Military Commission - in addition to being the de facto head of the politburo, the country's highest decision-making body.

The Communist Party has a strong grip on the media.

Media outlets and journalists risk sanctions and arrest for broaching sensitive topics and for criticising the government.

Online content deemed to threaten Communist rule is blocked.

Some key dates in Vietnam's history:

1859-83 - France slowly colonises Indochina.

1940 - Japan takes control of Indochina.

1945 - The Viet Minh seizes power. Ho Chi Minh proclaims independence and establishes the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

1946 - French forces attack Viet Minh in Haiphong in November, sparking the war of resistance against the colonial power.

1950 - Democratic Republic of Vietnam is recognised by China and USSR.

19554 - Viet Minh forces attack and eventually capture a key isolated French military base in the town of Dien Bien Phu after a seven-week battle. The battle effectively spells the end of France's field army in Vietnam. During the siege the French government agrees to peace talks in Geneva.

1954 - Vietnam is split into North and South at the Geneva conference.

1956 - South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem begins campaign against political dissidents. Conflict between the two rival states rages for the next two decades, in what is known as the Vietnam War or the Second Indochina War. The US becomes heavily involved in support of the South.

1964 - Gulf of Tonkin incident: the US says North Vietnamese patrol boats fired on two US Navy destroyers. US Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorising military action in region.

1965 - 200,000 American combat troops arrive in South Vietnam.

1966 - US troop numbers in Vietnam rise to 400,000, then to 500,000 by 1967.

1968 - Tet Offensive - a combined assault by Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army on US positions - begins.

1969 - Ho Chi Minh dies. President Nixon begins to reduce US ground troops in Vietnam as domestic public opposition to the war grows.

1973 - Ceasefire agreement in Paris, US troop pull-out completed by March.

1975 - North Vietnamese troops invade South Vietnam and take control of the whole country after South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh surrenders.

1976 - Vietnam is reunified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands flee abroad, including many "boat people".

1979 - Vietnam invades Cambodia and ousts the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot. In response, Chinese troops cross Vietnam's northern border. They are pushed back by Vietnamese forces.

1986 - Nguyen Van Linh becomes party leader. He introduces a more liberal economic policy.

1989 - Vietnamese troops withdraw from Cambodia.

1994 - US lifts its 30-year trade embargo.

1995 - Vietnam and US restore full diplomatic relations. Vietnam becomes full member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

2000 - US President Bill Clinton pays a three-day official visit.

2001 - US and Vietnam implement a trade agreement which normalises the trade status between them.

2002 - Russia hands back the Cam Ranh Bay naval base, once the largest Soviet base outside the Warsaw Pact.

2004 - First US commercial flight since the end of the Vietnam War touches down in Ho Chi Minh City.

2007 - Vietnam joins the World Trade Organization.

2011 - Vietnam begins joint operation with the United States to clean up contamination from the toxic Agent Orange defoliant widely used by the US military during the Vietnam war. China and Vietnam sign an agreement to manage the South China Sea dispute

2014 - State media for first time marks anniversary of South Vietnam's 1974 clash with China over Paracel Islands, in sign of growing tension over Chinese intentions in the area.

2016 - US lifts long-standing ban on selling weapons to Vietnam.

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