Cities Of Vietnam


Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, lies on the banks of the Red River, some 100 kilometres from its mouth. Human settlements at the place date back as far as the 3rd century B.C.

In 1010 Hanoi, at that time known by the name of Thang Long, became capital of the first Vietnamese dynasty independent from the Chinese. The city received its present name, Hanoi, only in 1831. However, at that time not Hanoi but Hué was the capital of the Vietnamese empire.

In 1882 Hanoi was conquered by a French expedition. In 1883 France forced the then uncolonialized North of the Vietnamese empire to accept the status of a French protectorate. The French administratively divided the country into the colony Cochin China (in the South) and the protectorates Annam (central Vietnam) and Tonkin (North Vietnam). Hanoi became the capital of the protectorate Tonkin.

Vast parts of present-day Hanoi were built during the French colonial occupation. With its broad boulevards and a French-inspired architecture the city has a noticeable structural charm.

The French abandoned Hanoi after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu and the division of Vietnam into two separate states according to the Geneva Treaty signed on July 20, 1954. Ho Chi Minh made Hanoi the capital of North Vietnam and initially concentrated on the expansion of the city's industry.

During the US bombardments of North Vietnam from March 1965 to October 1968 the authorities evacuated 75 % of Hanoi's population. After the end of the bombardments the city again grew rapidly. Today the population of Hanoi counts more than 3 million.

Nevertheless, the city does not seem as crowded as Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon. And even though Hanoi is the political capital of the country, Ho Chi Minh City definitely is ahead economically.


Hué in central Vietnam was the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty that ruled Vietnam from1802 to 1945. However, the sovereignty of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty was restricted for almost 100 years. First, the French conquered Saigon in 1859 and in 1862 set up their colony Cochin China in the South of Vietnam; then, in 1883 a French fleet appeared at the Hué cost and forced the Vietnamese emperor Hiep Hoa to accept French overlordship for all of Vietnam.

Thereafter, the French administratively divided the country into the colony Cochin China (in the South) and the protectorates Annam (central Vietnam) and Tonkin (North Vietnam). The Vietnamese emperor was allowed to stay in office and the imperial court still took care of those government matters, which were of no interest to the French colonial masters. But over the decades this arrangement undermined the importance of the imperial court for the Vietnamese state. When on August 24, 1945, the last Nguyen emperor, Bao Dai, resigned, this was of no practical relevance to the political situation in the country.

With a population of 350,000 Hué is not a particularly large city by present-day Vietnamese standards. But it is full of historical attractions, even though it has suffered more than any other Vietnamese city during the Vietnam War.

Hué is famous for its rainy weather. The rainy season last longer than in the Vietnamese average, from May to December, and even during the so-called dry season it regularly rains.

Nha Trang

Like Danang, Nha Trang, some 445 kilometres northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, is a city mainly renowned for it's non-Vietnamese past, as it was an important town in the Kingdom of Champa. After armies of the Vietnamese Le Dynasty had invaded the northern regions of the Kingdom of Champa in 1471, the Chams retreated to a small area around Nha Trang. In 1720, when another Vietnamese attack was imminent, the entire Cham nation migrated to the Southwest into an area north of lake Tonle Sap in present-day Cambodia.

50 kilometres south of Nha Trang, Cam Ranh Bay is one of the largest natural harbor of the world. During the Vietnam War, Cam Ranh Bay had been one of the most important Southeast Asian harbor for the American forces.


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