Country of Highlands and Rainforests, Mountains and Primeval
the Vietnam War ended more than 30 years ago, that war’s
presence continues to be infused into in our textbooks and
Vietnam today has a thriving economy, culture, as well as
illustrious history. In addition, the hundreds of thousands
of residents of Vietnamese background living in the United
States influence our art, music, food and many other aspects
of our culture.
has great natural beauty and tranquil village life. The country
features highlands and rainforest regions, filled with exotic
wildlife, as well as many islands and magnificent beaches.
It is a lush region of soaring mountains, fertile deltas,
and primeval forests with exotic fauna, winding rivers, fascinating
caves, rock formations and waterfalls.
five million people inhabit Vietnam. Eighty percent of these
are ethnic Vietnamese. Among the many languages spoken there
are Vietnamese, Chinese, English, French, and Russian. The
word for peace in Vietnamese is “Hoa-Binh.”
stretches the length of the Indochinese Peninsula, covering
128,000 square miles, roughly the size of Italy. China lies
to the north, Laos and Cambodia are to the west, and the South
China Sea is to the east.
country has three areas: north, central, and south. The north
is known for its alpine peaks, the Red River Delta, the plains
of Cao Bang and Vinh Yen, Halong Bay and Hanoi. Central Vietnam
has high temperate plateaus rich in volcanic soil, spectacular
beaches, dunes, and lagoons, as well as the ancient imperial
city of Hue. The southern part of the country is known for
its modern life in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and
for its fertile alluvial delta of the Mekong River. Vietnam
is also known for a large continental shelf and thousands
of archipelagic islands.
the country is situated entirely within the tropics, its diverse
range of altitude, and weather patterns produces enormous
climatic variation. North Vietnam has two basic seasons: a
cold, humid winter from November to April, and a warm, wet
summer when temperatures average around 70 degrees Fahrenheit
(about 22 C), with occasional typhoons. South Vietnam is generally
warm, the hottest months being March through May, when temperatures
rise into the mid-90's (low-30's C).
soil collected in this magnificent country for Common Ground
191 was obtained in the central part of Ho Chi Minh City,
in an area known as the 1st District, on the grounds of the
city’s opera house. Esther Jivcu, a business development
associate in Santa Ana, California, arranged for the collection
of the soil, which went through a difficult route to make
its way to Gary Simpson’s studio in Laguna Beach, CA.
While carriers were willing to bring the soil to this country,
various government officials were concerned that there were
drugs in the soil. However, the soil was finally brought here
in early 2007.
Vietnamese are descendants of nomadic Mongols from China and
migrants from Indonesia. According to mythology, the first
ruler of Vietnam was Hung Vuong, who founded the nation in
2879 B.C. China ruled the vassal state from 111 B.C. until
the 15th century.
century later, the Portuguese entered the area. France established
its influence early in the 19th century, and within 80 years,
conquered the country’s three regions. France unified
Vietnam in 1887, then created a rail road system, linking
the north and south.
took over military bases in Vietnam in 1940, yet a pro-Vichy
French administration remained until 1945. Veteran Communist
leader Ho Chi Minh organized an independence movement known
as the Vietminh to exploit the confusion surrounding France's
weakened influence in the region. At the end of the war, Ho's
followers seized Hanoi and declared a short-lived republic,
which ended with the arrival of French forces in 1946.
proposed a unified government within the French Union under
the former Annamite emperor, Bao Dai. Cochin-China and Annam
accepted the proposal, and Bao Dai was proclaimed emperor
of all Vietnam in 1949. Ho and the Vietminh withheld support,
and the revolution in China gave them the outside help needed
for a war of resistance against French and Vietnamese troops.
bitter defeat at Dien Bien Phu in northwest Vietnam on May
5, 195, broke the French military campaign and resulted in
the division of Vietnam. Skirmishing grew into a full-scale
war. The most savage fighting of the war occurred in early
1968 during the Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet. Although
the so-called Tet Offensive ended in a military defeat for
the North, its psychological impact changed the course of
bombing and an invasion of Cambodia in the summer of 1970—an
effort to destroy Viet Cong bases in the neighboring state—marked
the end of major U.S. participation. Most American ground
troops were withdrawn from combat by mid-1971 when the U.S.
conducted heavy bombing raids on the Ho Chi Minh Trail—a
crucial North Vietnamese supply line. A peace settlement was
signed in Paris on Jan. 27, 1973.
April 9, 1975, Hanoi's troops marched within 40 miles of Saigon,
the South's capital. South Vietnam's president Thieu resigned
on April 21. Gen. Duong Van Minh, the new president, surrendered
Saigon on April 30, ending a war that claimed the lives of
1.3 million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans.
U.S. lifted a Vietnamese trade embargo in Feb. 1994. Full
diplomatic relations were announced between the two countries
in July 1995. In April 1997, a pact was signed with the U.S.
concerning repayment of the $146 million wartime debt incurred
by the South Vietnamese government.
Nov. 2001, Vietnam's national assembly approved a trade agreement
that opened U.S. markets to Vietnam's goods and services.
Prime Minister Phan Van Khai visited the United States in
June 2005, the first Vietnamese leader to do so since the
end of the Vietnam War. He met with President Bush and several
business leaders, including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.
The U.S. is Vietnam's largest trading partner, buying about
$7 billion in Vietnamese goods each year. Vietnam became the
150th member of the World Trade Organization in January
life in Vietnam includes Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity,
and Tam Giao, a blend of Taoism, popular Chinese beliefs,
and ancient Vietnamese animism.
most important festival of the year is Tet, a week-long event
in late January or early February celebrating the new lunar
year and the advent of spring. Celebrations consists of raucous
festivities (fireworks, drums, gongs) and quiet meditation.
There are about 20 other traditional and religious festivals
architecture includes vast numbers of historic temples, monasteries
and pagodas. The pagoda form symbolizes the human desire to
bridge the gap between the constraints of earthly existence
and the perfection of heavenly forces. The Giac Lam Pagoda
of Ho Chi Minh City, considered the city's oldest, is notable
for its many richly-carved jackwood statues.
art, which flourished before French colonization, has experienced
a resurgence with beautiful woodcuts, village painting, and
block printing. Vietnamese lacquer art is among the most original
and sophisticated in the world. Music, dance, and puppetry
are also prolific throughout the country.
country's cuisine is deeply influenced by the national cuisines
of France, China, and Thailand, Vietnamese cooking makes extensive
use of fresh herbs, including lemon grass, basil, coriander,
parsley, laksa leaf, lime, and chili. Soup is served at almost
every meal, and snacks include spring rolls and rice pancakes.
The national condiment is nuoc mam, a piquant fermented fish
sauce served with every meal. Indigenous tropical fruits include
bananas, pineapples, coconuts, lychees, melons, mandarin oranges,
grapes and exotic varieties.
word for peace in Vietnamese is “Hoa-Binh.”