Just below China is a country known as Vietnam. My interest in Vietnam originates from my friend who used to take me to many Vietnamese restaurants. I was immediately enticed with the rich feeling of culture I got so I decided to look more into this fascinating country.
Vietnam began as a country of rice farmers in the Red River Valley 2,000 years ago. They used canals to irrigate their crop and eventually they began a kingdom known as Van Lang. Van Lang prospered until it was taken over by China in the 2nd Century BC. The Chinese ruled northern Vietnam for more than 1,000 years and Chinese civilization had a major impact on northern Vietnamese culture. Meanwhile, south Vietnam had many Indian influences and was known as the Funan kingdom while another Indian influenced kingdom named Champa was located in the middle of Vietnam. Northern Vietnam resented their Chinese rule, so in 40 AD, the Trung sisters led a rebellion, but it was crushed soon after in 43AD. The Chinese continued to rule North Vietnam until the 10th century, when a leader named Ngo Quyen defeated the Chinese in the battle of Bach Dang River and North Vietnam became independent. The Mongols then invaded Vietnam three times in the 13th century and they captured the capital, but usually retreated quickly. They lived prosperously until China tried to regain control of Northern Vietnam in the 15th century. However, their rujle was resisted and in 1418, Le Loi began the Lam Son Uprising. The Chinese were removed from Vietnam and Le Loi became Emperor Le Thai Toi. He united Champa and Northern Vietnam together. In the 16th century, the Le dynasty declined and the two rival families, the north by the Trinh and the south by Nguyen. In the 1770s, a rebellion led by three brothers called Nguyen conquered all of Vietnam.
After Vietnam had become united, the French made it one of their colonies in the 19th century. The French began building many different infrastructures such as roads and bridges in Vietnam, but it was funded by heavy taxation. The Vietnamese wanted independence and this led to the Revolutionary Youth League led by Ho Chi Minh in 1925. In 1930, this became known as the Vietnamese Communist party. Then in 1940, the Germans defeated France and Japan took advantage of the French’s state of weakness by putting troops in French Indo-China, which includes Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh took this to his advantage and drove Japan out of Vietnam. This left a power vacuum and Ho Chi Minh took over. He declared independence for Vietnam. The French did not want to give up their power and they fought the Viet Minh. However, they realized they could not win so Vietnam was split on the 17th parallel.
Today the culture in Vietnam is very different than the United States. First, many Vietnamese believe in many different superstitions that affect Vietnamese life. For example, a boy may not be able to marry a certain girl because she was born in the wrong year. This is based upon the 12-year lunar calendar. Along with superstitions, they also have celebrations for people reaching 40, 50, 60, etc. This is a sign of respect for one’s elders as they have survived through many hardships. Rice is also still a major source of income. Eight out of ten Vietnamese living in rural area gain their income from rice. Vietnam also has unique clothing, architecture, music, and food (everyone has to try pho). While it is often forgotten under China, Japan, and Korea, Vietnam has its own history and culture that is beautiful and everyone should visit.
Cảm ơn! (Thank you in Vietnamese)