South Vietnam

South Vietnam

Overview
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam
State of Vietnam
The State of Vietnam was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and replaced the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam . The provisional government was a brief transitional administration between colonial Cochinchina and an independent state...

" (1949–55) and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" (1955–75). Its capital was Saigon. The terms "South Vietnam" and "North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

" became common usage in 1954 at the time of the Geneva Conference
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

, which partitioned
Partition (politics)
In politics, a partition is a change of political borders cutting through at least one territory considered a homeland by some community. That change is done primarily by diplomatic means, and use of military force is negligible....

 Vietnam into communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 and non-communist zones at the 17th parallel
Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone
The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone was established as a dividing line between North and South Vietnam as a result of the First Indochina War.During the Second Indochina War , it became important as the battleground demarcation separating North Vietnamese territory from South Vietnamese territory.-...

.

South Vietnam's origins can be traced to the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 colony
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 of Cochinchina
Cochinchina
Cochinchina is a region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam whose principal city is Saigon. It was a French colony from 1862 to 1954. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. In Vietnamese, the region is called Nam Bộ...

, a subdivision of French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

, which consisted of the southern third of Vietnam.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'South Vietnam'
Start a new discussion about 'South Vietnam'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Timeline

1954   First Indochina War: The Geneva Conference partitions Vietnam into North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

1954   Dwight D. Eisenhower pledges United States support to South Vietnam

1955   Operation Passage to Freedom, the evacuation of 310,000 Vietnamese civilians, soldiers and non-Vietnamese members of the French Army from communist North Vietnam to South Vietnam following the end of the First Indochina War, ends.

1955   Ngô Đình Diệm declares himself Premier of South Vietnam.

1957   Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam survived a communist shooting assassination attempt in Ban Me Thuot.

1957   President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam becomes the first foreign head of state to make a state visit to Australia.

1958   A parcel bomb sent by Ngo Dinh Nhu, younger brother and chief adviser of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, fails to kill King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.

1960   A military coup against President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam is crushed.

1961   United States President John F. Kennedy sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.

1963   A protest against pro-Catholic discrimination during the Buddhist crisis is held outside South Vietnam's National Assembly, the first open demonstration during the eight-year rule of Ngo Dinh Diem.

 
Encyclopedia
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam
State of Vietnam
The State of Vietnam was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and replaced the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam . The provisional government was a brief transitional administration between colonial Cochinchina and an independent state...

" (1949–55) and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" (1955–75). Its capital was Saigon. The terms "South Vietnam" and "North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

" became common usage in 1954 at the time of the Geneva Conference
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

, which partitioned
Partition (politics)
In politics, a partition is a change of political borders cutting through at least one territory considered a homeland by some community. That change is done primarily by diplomatic means, and use of military force is negligible....

 Vietnam into communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 and non-communist zones at the 17th parallel
Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone
The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone was established as a dividing line between North and South Vietnam as a result of the First Indochina War.During the Second Indochina War , it became important as the battleground demarcation separating North Vietnamese territory from South Vietnamese territory.-...

.

South Vietnam's origins can be traced to the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 colony
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 of Cochinchina
Cochinchina
Cochinchina is a region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam whose principal city is Saigon. It was a French colony from 1862 to 1954. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. In Vietnamese, the region is called Nam Bộ...

, a subdivision of French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

, which consisted of the southern third of Vietnam. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Việt Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh , born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam...

, proclaimed Vietnamese independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 in Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

. In 1949, non-communist Vietnamese
Vietnamese people
The Vietnamese people are an ethnic group originating from present-day northern Vietnam and southern China. They are the majority ethnic group of Vietnam, comprising 86% of the population as of the 1999 census, and are officially known as Kinh to distinguish them from other ethnic groups in Vietnam...

 politicians formed a rival government in Saigon led by former emperor Bao Dai
Bao Dai
Bảo Đại , born Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy , was the 13th and last ruler of the Nguyễn dynasty. From 1926 to 1945, he was king of Annam under French ‘protection’. During this period, Annam was a protectorate within French Indochina, covering the central two-thirds of the present-day Vietnam...

. Bao Dai was deposed
Deposition (politics)
Deposition by political means concerns the removal of a politician or monarch. It may be done by coup, impeachment, invasion or forced abdication...

 by Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

 in 1955, who proclaimed himself president
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 after a fraudulent referendum. After Diệm was deposed in a military coup
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

in 1963, there was a series of short-lived military governments. General Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1975. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a fraudulent election...

 led the country from 1967 until 1975. The Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 began in 1965 with an uprising by Việt Cộng forces supplied by North Vietnam. Fighting climaxed during the Tết Offensive of 1968, when there were over 1.5 million South Vietnamese soldiers and 500,000 U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam. Despite a peace treaty
Paris Peace Accords
The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 intended to establish peace in Vietnam and an end to the Vietnam War, ended direct U.S. military involvement, and temporarily stopped the fighting between North and South Vietnam...

 concluded in January 1973, fighting continued until the North Vietnamese army overran Saigon on April 30, 1975.

Leaders



  • 1946-47 Autonomous Republic of Cochinchina (Chính phủ Cộng hoà Nam Kỳ tự trị). Republic declared by France to evade promise to recognize Vietnam as independent.
  • Nguyễn Văn Thinh
    Nguyen Van Thinh
    Nguyễn Văn Thinh was the first President of Cochinchina. Thinh was a French citizen and joined the Constitutionalist Party in 1926. He founded the Cochinchinese Democratic Party in 1937. He became chief of the provisory government on March 26, 1946, and provisional president on June 1...

     (1946)

  • 1947-48 Republic of South Vietnam (Chánh phủ lâm thời Nam phần Việt Nam). Vietnamese name no longer implies that Cochinchina is independent of Vietnam.
  • Nguyễn Văn Xuân
    Nguyen Van Xuan
    Nguyễn Văn Xuân was President of the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam from 1948 to 1949 during the end of French rule in Vietnam.-First Indochina War:...

     (1947-48)

1948-49 Provisional Central Government of Vietnam (Thủ tướng lâm thời Quốc gia Việt Nam). This "pre-Vietnam" government prepared for a unified Vietnamese state.
  • Nguyễn Văn Xuân
    Nguyen Van Xuan
    Nguyễn Văn Xuân was President of the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam from 1948 to 1949 during the end of French rule in Vietnam.-First Indochina War:...

     (1948-49)

1949-55 State of Vietnam
State of Vietnam
The State of Vietnam was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and replaced the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam . The provisional government was a brief transitional administration between colonial Cochinchina and an independent state...

(Quốc gia Việt Nam). Internationally recognized in 1950. Partitioned at the 17th parallel in 1954.
  • Bảo Đại
    Bảo Đài
    Bảo Đài is a commune and village in Lục Nam District, Bac Giang Province, in northeastern Vietnam.-References:...

     (1949-55). Abdicated as emperor in 1945.

1955-75 Republic of Vietnam (Việt Nam Cộng Hòa). Fought Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 against North and Việt cộng (1959–75).
  • Ngô Đình Diệm (1955–63). Once highly lauded by America, he was ousted and assassinated in a U.S.-backed coup.
  • In 1963-65, there were numerous coups and short-lived governments, several of which were headed by Dương Văn Minh
    Duong Van Minh
    Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

     or Nguyễn Khánh
    Nguyen Khanh
    Nguyễn Khánh is a former general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam who variously served as Head of State and Prime minister of South Vietnam while at the head of a military junta from January 1964 until February 1965. He was involved in or against many coup attempts, failed and successful,...

    .
  • Nguyễn Văn Thiệu
    Nguyen Van Thieu
    Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1975. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a fraudulent election...

     (1965–75). Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ
    Nguyen Cao Ky
    Nguyễn Cao Kỳ served as the chief of the Vietnam Air Force in the 1960s, before leading the nation as the prime minister of South Vietnam in a military junta from 1965 to 1967...

     was top leader in 1965-67.
  • Trần Văn Hương
    Tran Van Huong
    Trần Văn Hương was a South Vietnamese politician. He was the penultimate president of South Vietnam prior to its surrender to the communist forces of North Vietnam.-Biography:...

     (1975).
  • Dương Văn Minh
    Duong Van Minh
    Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

     (2nd time) (1975). Surrendered to Communists when others abandoned their posts.

1975-76 Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam (Chính phủ Cách mạng lâm thời Cộng hoà miền Nam Việt Nam). Authority nominal as South was occupied by the People's Army of Vietnam.
  • Huỳnh Tấn Phát (1975-76)

Founding: The Nation of Vietnam



Before World War II, the southern third of Vietnam was the colony of Cochinchina
Cochinchina
Cochinchina is a region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam whose principal city is Saigon. It was a French colony from 1862 to 1954. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. In Vietnamese, the region is called Nam Bộ...

, which was administered as part of French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

 by a governor in Hanoi. The northern two-thirds of Vietnam was the protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 of Annam, which had a puppet
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

 Vietnamese emperor as well as parallel French and Vietnamese systems of administration. Cochinchina had been annexed by France in 1862 and even elected a deputy to the French National Assembly
French National Assembly
The French National Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic. The upper house is the Senate ....

. It was more "evolved"
Évolué
Évolué is a French term used in the colonial era to refer to native Africans and Asians who had "evolved", through education or assimilation, and accepted European values and patterns of behavior...

, and French interests were stronger than in other parts of Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

, notably in the form of French-owned rubber plantations. During World War II, Indochina was administered by Vichy France
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 and occupied by Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. When the Japanese surrendered in 1945, Emperor Bảo Đại
Bảo Đài
Bảo Đài is a commune and village in Lục Nam District, Bac Giang Province, in northeastern Vietnam.-References:...

 abdicated, and Việt Minh
Viet Minh
Việt Minh was a national independence coalition formed at Pac Bo on May 19, 1941. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China...

 leader Hồ Chí Minh
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh , born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam...

 proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in Hanoi. French administration was restored in the South in September 1945. In June 1946, France declared Cochinchina a republic within French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

. Furious Vietnamese negotiators broke off talks with France in response, thus giving France an opening to evade an earlier promise to recognize Vietnam as independent. Hồ purged non-communist politicians from the DRV. The French Indochina War began in December 1945, with the French regaining control of Hanoi and other northern cities.

The State of Vietnam
State of Vietnam
The State of Vietnam was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and replaced the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam . The provisional government was a brief transitional administration between colonial Cochinchina and an independent state...

 was created through co-operation between anti-communist Vietnamese and the French government on June 14, 1949. Former emperor Bảo Đại
Bảo Đài
Bảo Đài is a commune and village in Lục Nam District, Bac Giang Province, in northeastern Vietnam.-References:...

 accepted the position of chief of state (quoc truong). This was known as the "Bảo Đại Solution." The colonial struggle in Vietnam became part of the global Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 in October 1949 when a victorious Chinese communist army
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 arrived on Vietnam's northern border. In 1950, China, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and other communist nations recognized the DRV while the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and other non-communist states recognized the Bảo Đại government.

In 1954, France and the Việt Minh agreed at the Geneva Conference
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

 that the State of Vietnam
State of Vietnam
The State of Vietnam was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and replaced the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam . The provisional government was a brief transitional administration between colonial Cochinchina and an independent state...

 would rule the territory south of the 17th parallel
Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone
The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone was established as a dividing line between North and South Vietnam as a result of the First Indochina War.During the Second Indochina War , it became important as the battleground demarcation separating North Vietnamese territory from South Vietnamese territory.-...

, pending unification on the basis of supervised elections in 1956. At the time of the conference, it was expected that the South would continue to be a French dependency. However, South Vietnamese Premier Ngô Đình Diệm, who preferred American sponsorship to French, rejected the agreement. When Vietnam was divided, 800,000 to 1 million North Vietnamese, mainly (but not exclusively) Roman Catholics, sailed south as part of Operation Passage to Freedom
Operation Passage to Freedom
Operation Passage to Freedom was the term used by the United States Navy to describe its transportation in 1954–55 of 310,000 Vietnamese civilians, soldiers and non-Vietnamese members of the French Army from communist North Vietnam to South Vietnam...

 due to a fear of religious persecution in the North.

1955–1963


In July 1955, Diệm announced in a broadcast that South Vietnam would not participate in the elections specified in the Geneva accords. As Saigon's delegation did not sign the Geneva accords, it was not bound by it, Diệm said. He also said the communist government in the North created conditions that made a fair election impossible in that region.

Diệm held a referendum on 23 October 1955 to determine the future of the country. He asked voters to approve a republic, thus removing Bảo Ðại as head of state. The poll was supervised and rigged by his younger brother, Ngô Ðình Nhu
Ngo Dinh Nhu
Ngô Ðình Nhu was the younger brother and chief political advisor of South Vietnam's first president, Ngô Ðình Diệm. Nhu was widely regarded as the architect of the Ngô family's nepotistic and autocratic rule over South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963...

. Diệm was credited with 98 percent of the votes. In many districts, there were more votes to remove Bảo Ðại than there were registered voters. In Saigon, 133 percent of the registered population reportedly voted to remove Bảo Ðại. On 26 October 1955, Diệm declared himself the president of the newly proclaimed Republic of Vietnam. The French, who needed troops to fight in Algeria, completely withdrew from Vietnam by April 1956.

Diệm attempted to consolidate his rule on Vietnam by eliminating rival groups. He launched an anti-communist denunciation campaign (To Cong) against remnants of the communist Vietminh. He also crushed rival factions by launching military campaigns against three powerful main sects; the Cao Dai
Cao Dai
Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. Đạo Cao Đài is the religion's shortened name, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ...

, Hoa Hao
Hoa Hao
Hòa Hảo is a religious tradition, based on Buddhism, founded in 1939 by Huỳnh Phú Sổ, a native of the Mekong River Delta region of southern Vietnam. Adherents consider Sổ to be a prophet, and Hòa Hảo a continuation of a 19th-century Buddhist ministry known as Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương...

 and the Binh Xuyen
Binh Xuyen
Bình Xuyên, often linked to its infamous leader, General Le van "Bay" Vien, was an independent military force within the Vietnamese National Army whose leaders once had lived outside the law and had sided with the Viet Minh...

 organised crime syndicate whose military strength combined amounted to approximately 350,000 soldiers. Throughout this period, the level of U.S. aid and political support increased.

1963–1973


1973–1975


In accordance with the Paris Peace Accords
Paris Peace Accords
The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 intended to establish peace in Vietnam and an end to the Vietnam War, ended direct U.S. military involvement, and temporarily stopped the fighting between North and South Vietnam...

 signed with North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

 on 27 January 1973, U.S. military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 forces withdrew from South Vietnam. North Vietnam was allowed to continue supplying communist troops in the South, but only to the extent of replacing materials that were consumed.

The communist leaders had expected that the ceasefire terms would favor their side. But as Saigon began to roll back the Vietcong, they found it necessary to adopt a new strategy, hammered out at a series of meetings in Hanoi in March 1973, according to the memoirs of Trần Văn Trà
Tran Van Tra
Trần Văn Trà was a commander in the Vietcong; a member of the Central Committee of the Lao Dong Party from 1960 to 1982; a lieutenant general in the army of the North Vietnam; chairman of Military Affairs Committee of the Central Office of South Vietnam .The son of a bricklayer, Tra was born in...

. As the Vietcong's top commander, Trà participated in several of these meetings. A plan to improve logistics was prepared so that the North Vietnamese Army would be able to launch a massive invasion of the South, projected for 1976, before Saigon's army could be fully trained. A gas pipeline would be built from North Vietnam to Vietcong headquarters in Loc Ninh
Loc Ninh
Lộc Ninh is a town in southern Vietnam. It is a rural district of Binh Phuoc province in the southeastern region of Vietnam. A major battle, the Battle of Loc Ninh, occurred there during the Vietnam War.-Transport:...

, about 60 miles (96.6 km) north of Saigon.

On 15 March 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 implied that the U.S. would intervene militarily if the communist side violated the ceasefire. Public reaction was unfavorable and on 4 June 1973 the U.S. Senate passed the Case-Church Amendment
Case-Church Amendment
The Case-Church Amendment was legislation approved by the U.S. Congress in 1973 that prohibited further U.S. military activity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This ended direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War, although the U.S. continued to provide military equipment and economic...

 to prohibit such intervention. The oil price shock of October 1973
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

 caused significant damage to the South Vietnamese economy. The Vietcong resumed offensive operations and by January 1974 it had recaptured the territory that it had lost earlier. After two clashes that left 55 South Vietnamese soldiers dead, President Thieu announced on 4 January that the war had restarted and that the Paris Peace Accord was no longer in effect. There were over 25,000 South Vietnamese casualties during the ceasefire period.

In August 1974, Nixon was forced to resign as a result of the Watergate scandal
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

 and the U.S. Congress voted to reduce assistance to South Vietnam from $1 billion a year to $700 million. By this time, the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Ho Chi Minh trail
The Ho Chi Minh trail was a logistical system that ran from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to the Republic of Vietnam through the neighboring kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia...

, once an arduous mountain trek, had been upgraded into a drivable highway with gasoline stations.

In 1975, the communists of North Vietnam launched an offensive in the South, which became known as the Ho Chi Minh Campaign
Ho Chi Minh Campaign
The Hồ Chí Minh Campaign was the final title applied to a series of increasingly large-scale and ambitious offensive operations by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam which began on 13 December 1974...

. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...

 unsuccessfully attempted a defense and a counterattack. It had few remaining operational tanks and artillery pieces, as well as a shortage of spare parts, and ammunition. The NVA had a vastly greater supply of new equipment and ammunition. As a consequence, South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu
Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1975. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a fraudulent election...

 was forced to withdraw key army units from the Central Highlands, which exacerbated an already-perilous military situation and undercut the confidence of the ARVN soldiers in their leadership.

The retreat became a rout. The cities of Huế
Hue
Hue is one of the main properties of a color, defined technically , as "the degree to which a stimulus can be describedas similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow,"...

, Da Nang
Da Nang
Đà Nẵng , occasionally Danang, is a major port city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea at the mouth of the Han River. It is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam; its well-sheltered, easily accessible port and its location on the path of...

 and Da Lat in central Vietnam quickly fell, and the North Vietnamese advanced southwards. As the military situation deteriorated, ARVN troops started deserting.

Thieu requested aid from U.S. President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

, but the U.S. Senate would not release extra money to provide aid to South Vietnam, and had already passed laws to prevent further involvement in Vietnam. In desperation, Thieu called back Nguyen Cao Ky
Nguyen Cao Ky
Nguyễn Cao Kỳ served as the chief of the Vietnam Air Force in the 1960s, before leading the nation as the prime minister of South Vietnam in a military junta from 1965 to 1967...

 from retirement as a military commander, but resisted calls to name his old rival prime minister.

Fall of Saigon - April 1975


Nguyễn Văn Thiệu
Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1975. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a fraudulent election...

 resigned on 21 April 1975, and fled to Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

. He nominated his Vice President Tran Van Huong
Tran Van Huong
Trần Văn Hương was a South Vietnamese politician. He was the penultimate president of South Vietnam prior to its surrender to the communist forces of North Vietnam.-Biography:...

 as his successor. A last-ditch defense was made by the ARVN 18th Division
18th Division (South Vietnam)
The 18th Division was an infantry division in the III Corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam . The U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam considered the 18th as undisciplined and was well known throughout the ARVN for its "cowboy" reputation...

 at the Battle of Xuan Loc
Battle of Xuan Loc
The Battle of Xuan Loc was the last major battle of the Vietnam War. The battle was fought between April 9–21, 1975, and ended when the town of Xuan Loc was overrun by the North Vietnamese 4th Army Corps....

 led by Major General Lê Minh Đảo.
After only one week in office, Tran Van Huong handed over the presidency to General Duong Van Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

 ("Big Minh"). Minh was seen as a more conciliatory figure toward the North, and it was hoped he might be able to negotiate a more favorable settlement to end the war. The North was not interested in negotiations, however, and its tanks rolled into Saigon largely unopposed which led to the fall of Saigon
Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

. Acting President Minh unconditionally surrendered
Unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender is a surrender without conditions, in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological...

 the capital city of Saigon and the rest of South Vietnam to North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

 on April 30, 1975.

During the hours leading up to the surrender, the United States undertook a massive evacuation of its embassy in Saigon, Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Frequent Wind was the evacuation by helicopter of American civilians and 'at-risk' Vietnamese from Saigon, South Vietnam, on 29–30 April 1975 during the last days of the Vietnam War...

. The evacuees included U.S. government personnel as well as high-ranking members of the ARVN and other South Vietnamese who had aided the U.S.-backed administration and were seen as potential targets for persecution by the Communists. Many of the evacuees were taken directly by helicopter to multiple aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s waiting off the coast. An iconic image of the evacuation is the widely-seen footage of empty Huey
UH-1 Iroquois
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois is a military helicopter powered by a single, turboshaft engine, with a two-bladed main rotor and tail rotor. The helicopter was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the United States Army's requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter in 1952, and first flew...

 helicopters being jettisoned over the side of the carriers, to provide more room on the ship's deck for more evacuees to land. The evacuation was forced to stop by the U.S. Navy. All the marines and diplomats were evacuated, but thousands of South Vietnamese waited vainly atop the U.S. Embassy for helicopters that never came.

Relationship with the U.S.


The history of the relationship with the United States is controversial. Some historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

s say the founding of South Vietnam was based on the United States's desire to create an "anti-communist" base in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Mortimer T. Cohen says: During the course of its 21 years of involvement in Indochina, the United States Government offered “reasons” for its actions. These reasons were worthless. The only reason for the American being in Indochina was to prevent the area from going Communist by an election, by an internal revolution... And this was reason enough... More reasons. And more reasons. They sprouted like asparagus in May. Before the Indochina War came to an end, a book could have filled with reasons. None of them were valid

John Carlos Rowe & Rick Berg say: "Protecting the “freedom” of the people of South Vietnam? In internal documents the harsh realities of US War aims were spelled out – none more succinctly than a memorandum prepared by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Secretary McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

 (with an eyes-only copy to George Bundy
McGeorge Bundy
McGeorge "Mac" Bundy was United States National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from 1961 through 1966, and president of the Ford Foundation from 1966 through 1979...

) on US War aims: 70% to preserve our national honor,; 20% to keep South VN territory from being occupied by the Chinese; and 10% to the South VN to enjoy a better and freer way of life"

Opponents argue that it was based on popular support of the South Vietnamese people. However, the U.S. and the Diem government agreed that elections mandated by the Geneva Conference (1954)
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

 should not occur, claiming that the communists could not be trusted to conduct a fair election in the North. Moreover, most contemporary observers, including U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

, estimated that if an election were held in the 1954–55 period (when South Vietnam was under Bảo Đại's rule), around 80% of the Vietnamese population would vote for Ho Chi Minh. The dominant political rationale for supporting the South Vietnamese government was America's containment
Containment
Containment was a United States policy using military, economic, and diplomatic strategies to stall the spread of communism, enhance America’s security and influence abroad, and prevent a "domino effect". A component of the Cold War, this policy was a response to a series of moves by the Soviet...

 policy, which was designed to hold back the spread of communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

The failure to unify the country in 1956, along with Diem's persecution of communists, led in 1959 to the foundation of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam
National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam
The Vietcong , or National Liberation Front , was a political organization and army in South Vietnam and Cambodia that fought the United States and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War . It had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized...

 (abbreviated NLF but also known as the Việt Cộng), which initiated an organized and widespread guerrilla insurgency against the South Vietnamese government. Although initially cautious, Hanoi backed the insurgency, which grew in support and intensity. The United States, under President Eisenhower, initially sent military advisers to train the South Vietnamese Army. President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 increased the size of the advisory force fourfold and allowed the advisers to participate in combat operations, and later acquiesced in the removal of President Diem in a military coup
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

. After promising not to do so during the 1964 election campaign, in 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 decided to send in much larger numbers of combat troops, and conflict steadily escalated to become what is commonly known as the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. In 1968, the NLF ceased to be an effective fighting organization after the Tet Offensive and the war was largely taken over by regular army units of North Vietnam. Following American withdrawal from the war in 1973, the South Vietnamese government continued fighting the North Vietnamese, until, overwhelmed by a conventional invasion by the North, it finally unconditionally surrendered
Unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender is a surrender without conditions, in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological...

 on 30 April 1975, the day of the surrender of Saigon
Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

. North Vietnam controlled South Vietnam under military occupation
Military occupation
Military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory passes to a hostile army. The territory then becomes occupied territory.-Military occupation and the laws of war:...

, while the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, which had been proclaimed in June 1969 by the NLF, became the nominal government. The North Vietnamese quickly moved to marginalize non-communist members of the PRG and integrate South Vietnam into the communist North. The unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam was inaugurated on 2 July 1976.

Politics


South Vietnam went through many political changes during its short life. Initially, the nation was a republic with former Emperor Bảo Đại
Bảo Đài
Bảo Đài is a commune and village in Lục Nam District, Bac Giang Province, in northeastern Vietnam.-References:...

 as Head of State
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. He was unpopular however, largely because monarchical leaders were considered collaborators during French rule and because he had spent his reign absent in France.

In 1955, Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

 rigged a referendum
State of Vietnam referendum, 1955
The State of Vietnam referendum of 1955 determined the future form of government of the State of Vietnam, the nation that was to become the Republic of Vietnam . It was contested by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm, who proposed a republic, and former emperor Bảo Đại...

, which ended with a 98% vote in favour of deposing Bao Dai. In Saigon, Diem was credited with 133% of the vote and he went on to proclaim himself the President of the newly-formed Republic of Vietnam. Despite successes in politics, economics, and social change in the first 5 years, Diem quickly became a dictatorial leader. With the support of the United States government and the CIA, ARVN officers led by General Duong Van Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

 staged a coup and killed him in 1963. The military held a brief interim military government until General Nguyen Khanh
Nguyen Khanh
Nguyễn Khánh is a former general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam who variously served as Head of State and Prime minister of South Vietnam while at the head of a military junta from January 1964 until February 1965. He was involved in or against many coup attempts, failed and successful,...

 deposed Minh
1964 South Vietnamese coup
Before dawn on January 30, 1964, General Nguyen Khanh ousted the military junta led by General Duong Van Minh from the leadership of South Vietnam without firing a shot. It came less than three months after Minh's junta had themselves come to power in a bloody coup against then President Ngo Dinh...

 in a January 1964 coup. Until late 1965, multiple coups and changes of government occurred, with some civilians being allowed to give a semblance of civil rule overseen by a military junta.

In 1965 the feuding civilian government voluntarily resigned and handed power back to the nation's military, in the hope this would bring stability and unity to the nation. An elected constituent assembly including presentatives of all the branches of the military decided to switch the nation's system of government to a parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

ary system with a strong President. There was a bicameral National Assembly
National Assembly
National Assembly is either a legislature, or the lower house of a bicameral legislature in some countries. The best known National Assembly, and the first legislature to be known by this title, was that established during the French Revolution in 1789, known as the Assemblée nationale...

 consisting of a Senate
Senate
A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature or parliament. There have been many such bodies in history, since senate means the assembly of the eldest and wiser members of the society and ruling class...

 and a House of Representatives
House of Representatives
House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national states. In some countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral legislature, with the corresponding upper house often called a "senate". In other countries, the House of...

, which came into being in 1967. Military rule initially failed to provide much stability however, as internal conflicts and political inexperience caused various factions of the army to launch coups and counter-coups against one another, making leadership very tumultuous. The situation stabilized in mid-1965 when the Vietnam Air Force
Vietnam Air Force
The Vietnam Air Force began with a few hand-picked men chosen to fly alongside French pilots during the State of Vietnam era. It eventually grew into the world’s sixth largest air force at the height of its power, in 1974...

 chief Nguyen Cao Ky
Nguyen Cao Ky
Nguyễn Cao Kỳ served as the chief of the Vietnam Air Force in the 1960s, before leading the nation as the prime minister of South Vietnam in a military junta from 1965 to 1967...

 became Prime Minister, with General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu
Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1975. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a fraudulent election...

 as the figurehead chief of state.

In 1967 South Vietnam held its first elections under the new system. Following the elections, however, it switched back to a presidential system. The military nominated Nguyễn Văn Thiệu as their candidate, and he was elected with a plurality of the popular vote. Thieu quickly consolidated power much to the dismay of those who hoped for an era of more political openness. He was re-elected unopposed in 1971, receiving a suspiciously high 94% of the vote on an 87% turn-out. Thieu ruled until the final days of the war, resigning in April 1975. Duong Van Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

 was the nation's last president and unconditionally surrendered to the Communist forces a few days after assuming office.

South Vietnam was formerly a member of ACCT
Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique
The Agence de coopération culturelle et technique was founded in 1970 and was the precursor to what is now the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie....

, Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

 (ADB), World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 (IBRD), International Development Association
International Development Association
The International Development Association , is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries. It complements the World Bank's other lending arm — the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development — which serves middle-income countries with capital investment and...

 (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), IMF
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization
International Telecommunications Satellite Organization
The International Telecommunications Satellite Organization is an intergovernmental organisation charged with overseeing the public service obligations of Intelsat.-External links:*...

 (Intelsat), Interpol, IOC
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

, ITU
Itu
Itu is an old and historic municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil. The population in 2009 was 157,384 and the area is 641.68 km². The elevation is 583 m. This place name comes from the Tupi language, meaning big waterfall. Itu is linked with the highway numbered the SP-75 and are flowed...

, League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (LORCS), UNESCO and Universal Postal Union
Universal Postal Union
The Universal Postal Union is an international organization that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration , the Postal Operations Council and the...

 (UPU).

Provisional Revolutionary Government


Following the surrender of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces on 30 April 1975, the Vietcong, or Provisional Revolutionary Government, established itself in Saigon as the government of South Vietnam. However, it had no real autonomy and was under the control of North Vietnam, and was largely seen as a puppet government. The PRG was dissolved in July 1976 when it merged with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) to become the current Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Army



On 26 October 1956, the military was reorganized by the administration of President Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

 who established the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN, pronounced "arvin"). Early on, the focus of the army was combating the guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 fighters of the Vietcong, or National Liberation Front, an insurgent movement supplied by North Vietnam. The United States, under President Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 sent advisors and a great deal of financial support to aid ARVN in combating the Vietcong. ARVN and President Diem began to be criticized by the foreign press when the troops were used to crush southern religious groups like the Cao Dai
Cao Dai
Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. Đạo Cao Đài is the religion's shortened name, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ...

 and Hoa Hao
Hoa Hao
Hòa Hảo is a religious tradition, based on Buddhism, founded in 1939 by Huỳnh Phú Sổ, a native of the Mekong River Delta region of southern Vietnam. Adherents consider Sổ to be a prophet, and Hòa Hảo a continuation of a 19th-century Buddhist ministry known as Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương...

 as well as to raid Buddhist temples, which Diem claimed were harboring Communist guerrillas.

In 1963 Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

 was assassinated in a coup d'état carried out by ARVN officers led by Duong Van Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

 ('Big Minh'), supported by the CIA. In the confusion that followed Big Minh took power, but was only the first in a succession of ARVN generals to assume the presidency of South Vietnam in a period of intense political instability. During these years, the United States began taking full control of the war against the NLF and the role of the ARVN became less and less significant. They were also plagued by continuing problems of severe corruption among the officer corps. Although the U.S. was highly critical of them, the ARVN continued to be entirely U.S. armed and funded.

The value of the ARVN was highly questionable in this period. In 1963 at the Battle of Ap Bac
Battle of Ap Bac
The Battle of Ap Bac was a major battle fought on January 3, 1963, during the Vietnam War. It was fought in Dinh Tuong Province , South Vietnam. On December 28, 1962, U.S...

 some 1,400 ARVN troops were defeated by only 350 Vietcong guerrillas. The battle of Dong Xoai
Dong Xoai
Đồng Xoài is the capital town of Binh Phuoc province, in the southeastern region of Vietnam. It is located at around .The town was the site of the 1965 Battle of Đồng Xoài during the Vietnam War....

 in 1965 was another humiliating ARVN defeat. Generals tended to be political appointees and corruption was rampant.

Starting in 1969, President Nixon started the process of so-called "Vietnamization", withdrawing American forces and leaving the ARVN to fight the war against the North Vietnamese. Slowly, ARVN began to expand from its counter-insurgency
Counter-insurgency
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

 role to become the primary ground defense against the Vietcong and North Vietnamese. From 1969–71 there were about 22,000 ARVN combat deaths per year. Starting in 1968, South Vietnam began calling up every available man for service in the ARVN, reaching a strength of a million soldiers by 1972. In 1970 they performed well in Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 and were executing 3 times as many operations as they had during the American war period. However, the officer corps was still the biggest problem, and after the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, the ARVN lacked necessary military supplies and weapons as a result of a cutback of U.S. financial aid and assistance.

Relations with the public also remained poor as their only counter to Vietcong organizing was to resurrect the Strategic Hamlet Program
Strategic Hamlet Program
The Strategic Hamlet Program was a plan by the governments of South Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War to combat the Communist insurgency by means of population transfer.In 1961, U.S...

, which many peasants resented. However, forced to carry the burden left by the Americans, the South Vietnamese army actually started to perform rather well, and in 1970 was winning the war against the Communists, though with continued American air support. The exhaustion of the North was becoming evident, and the Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 talks gave some hope of a negotiated peace, if not a victory for the North Vietnamese. Since 1973, the war shifted in favor of the Viet Cong, who were well-equipped, funded and aided by their communist allies, the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, than the South was by the Americans.

The most crucial moment of truth for the ARVN came with General Vo Nguyen Giap
Vo Nguyen Giap
Võ Nguyên Giáp is a retired Vietnamese officer in the Vietnam People’s Army and a politician. He was a principal commander in two wars: the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War...

's 1972 Easter Offensive, the first all-out invasion of South Vietnam by the communists. It was code-named Nguyễn Huệ
Nguyen Hue
Nguyễn Huệ, also known as Emperor Quang Trung , born in Bình Định in 1753, died in Phú Xuân on 16 September 1792, was the second emperor of the Tây Sơn Dynasty of Vietnam, reigning from 1788 until 1792...

 after the Vietnamese emperor who defeated the Chinese in 1789. The assault combined infantry wave assaults, artillery and the first massive use of tanks by the North Vietnamese. ARVN took heavy losses, but to the surprise of many, managed to hold their ground.

U.S. President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 dispatched more bombers to provide air support for ARVN when it seemed that South Vietnam was about to be overrun. In desperation, President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu
Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1975. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a fraudulent election...

 fired the incompetent General Hoàng Xuân Lãm and replaced him with ARVN's best commander, General Ngo Quang Truong
Ngo Quang Truong
Lieutenant General Ngô Quang Trưởng was an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam . He was widely regarded as South Vietnam’s best officer and well-known for his uncompromising integrity and incorruptibility...

. He gave the order that all deserters would be executed and pulled enough forces together so that the North Vietnamese army failed to take Huế
Hue
Hue is one of the main properties of a color, defined technically , as "the degree to which a stimulus can be describedas similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow,"...

. Finally, largely as a result of U.S. air and naval support
Operation Linebacker
Operation Linebacker was the title of a U.S. Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 aerial interdiction campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam from 9 May to 23 October 1972, during the Vietnam War....

, as well as determination by ARVN soldiers, the Easter Offensive was halted.

After the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 all U.S. military forces withdrew from South Vietnam and theoretically the war officially ended, however clashes between ARVN and Vietcong forces continued.

In 1975 the North Vietnamese again invaded the South. Lacking U.S. air support the ARVN could not hold them back. City after city fell to the Communists with ARVN soldiers joining the civilians trying to flee south. The North called this the "Hồ Chí Minh Campaign." All resistance crumbled. Faced with few viable options, the South tried to form a coalition government that would be palatable to the Communists, one that favored negotiated peace and neutrality. The new coalition government was headed by General Duong Van Minh (Big Minh), one of the organizers of the coup in November 1963, with the full support of the CIA and President Kennedy, that killed President Ngo Dinh Diem. General Cao Van Vien
Cao Van Vien
Cao Văn Viên was a Vietnamese soldier who served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and rose to the position of Chairman of the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff...

, then Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 and Commander of the Airborne Brigade, had been captured and held by the Big Minh faction and threatened with execution unless he ordered his troops to join the coup. He refused and was held captive until the end of the coup and was released only because of his close friendship with one of the coup leaders.

Because the new coalition government would be headed by Big Minh, General Vien immediately submitted his resignation to then President of South Vietnam Tran Van Huong
Tran Van Huong
Trần Văn Hương was a South Vietnamese politician. He was the penultimate president of South Vietnam prior to its surrender to the communist forces of North Vietnam.-Biography:...

, who succeeded President Thieu as President. President Huong, knowing the 1963 coup history, granted General Vien's resignation request, (Vien had submitted his resignation to President Thieu many times and had always been turned down). General Vien then escaped to the U.S. as a civilian once his resignation was effective and formalized.

The situation in South Vietnam further deteriorated. The ARVN tried to defend Xuan Loc, their last line of defense before Saigon. The ARVN forces were greatly outnumbered by the advancing North Vietnamese army. Xuan Loc was taken and on 30 April 1975, initiated the Fall of Saigon
Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

. The North Vietnamese army captured the city, placing the Vietcong flag over the Independence Palace. General Duong Van Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

, recently appointed president by Tran Van Huong
Tran Van Huong
Trần Văn Hương was a South Vietnamese politician. He was the penultimate president of South Vietnam prior to its surrender to the communist forces of North Vietnam.-Biography:...

, unconditionally surrendered
Unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender is a surrender without conditions, in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological...

 the city and government bringing the Republic of Vietnam and also the Army of the Republic of Vietnam to an end.

Radio


There were four AM and one FM radio stations, all of them owned by government (VTVN), named Radio Vietnam. One of them is a nationwide broadcast, the other for military service and the rest are broadcast in foreign language such as French, Chinese, English, Khmer and Thai. Radio Vietnam started its operation in 1955.

Television


Television was introduced to the South Vietnam on February 7, 1966 with black and white FCC system. Covering major cities in South Vietnam, started with 1 hour broadcast per day then increase to 6 hour in the evening during 1970s

Provinces



South Vietnam's capital was Saigon which was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City , formerly named Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam...

 on 1 May 1975 after unconditionally surrendering
Unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender is a surrender without conditions, in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological...

 to the North.

Before surrendering, the South was divided into forty-four provinces (tỉnh, singular and plural).

Geography


The South was divided into coastal lowlands, the mountainous Central Highlands (Cao-nguyen Trung-phan), and the Mekong River Delta.

Economy



South Vietnam maintained a free-market economy and ties to the west. It established an airline under Head of State Bảo Đại named Air Vietnam
Air Vietnam
Active from 1951 to 1975, Air Viet Nam was South Vietnam's first commercial air carrier, headquartered in District 1, Saigon. Established under Emperor Bảo Đại, the Chief of State of South Vietnam, the airline flew over one million passengers, including during the Vietnam War, before its collapse...

. The economy was greatly assisted by American aid and the presence of large numbers of Americans in the country between 1961 and 1973. Electrical production increased fourteen-fold between 1954 and 1973 while industrial output increase by an average of 6.9 percent annually. During the same period, rice output increased by 203 percent and the number of students in university increased from 2,000 to 90,000. U.S. aid peaked at $2.3 billion in 1973, but dropped to $1.1 billion in 1974. Inflation rose to 200 percent as the country suffered economic shock due the decrease of American aid as well as the oil price shock of October 1973. The unification of Vietnam in 1976 led to the imposition of North Vietnam's centrally planned economy into the South. The country made no significant economic progress for the next twenty years. After the break-up of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the end of Soviet aid, the leadership of Vietnam accepted the need for change. Their occupation armies were withdrawn from Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 and Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

. Afterward, the country introduced economic reforms that created a market economy in the mid 1990s. The government remains a collective dictatorship under the close control of the Communist party
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

.

Demographics


About 90% of population was Kinh, and 10% was Hoa, Montagnard
Degar
The Degar are the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The term Montagnard means "mountain people" in French and is a carryover from the French colonial period in Vietnam. In Vietnamese, they are known by the term thượng - this term can also be applied to other minority ethnic...

, French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

, Khmer
Khmer Krom
The Khmer Krom are Khmer people living in the Mekong Delta and the Lower Mekong River area. Under the Khmer Rouge regime- according to the conservative estimates are that 150,000. Under the rule of Vietnam from 1979-93, Cambodia may have lost 20,000 Khmer Krom...

, Cham, Eurasian
Eurasian (mixed ancestry)
The word Eurasian refers to people of mixed Asian and European ancestry. It was originally coined in 19th-century British India to refer to Anglo-Indians of mixed British and Indian descent....

s and others. (1970).

Culture


Principal religions were Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Roman Catholic, Cao Dai
Cao Dai
Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. Đạo Cao Đài is the religion's shortened name, the full name is Đại Đạo Tam Kỳ Phổ Độ...

, Hoa Hao
Hoa Hao
Hòa Hảo is a religious tradition, based on Buddhism, founded in 1939 by Huỳnh Phú Sổ, a native of the Mekong River Delta region of southern Vietnam. Adherents consider Sổ to be a prophet, and Hòa Hảo a continuation of a 19th-century Buddhist ministry known as Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương...

, animists and other Cham (Asia)|

Vietnamese culture


Cultural life was strongly influenced by China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 until French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 domination in the 19th century. At that time, the traditional culture began to acquire an overlay of western characteristics. Many families have three generations living under one roof. The emerging South Vietnamese middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 and youth in the 1960s became increasingly more Westernized, and followed American cultural and social trends, especially in music, fashion and social attitudes in major cities like Saigon.

See also

  • Republic of Vietnam Navy
    Republic of Vietnam Navy
    The Republic of Vietnam Navy was the naval force of the former Republic of Vietnam from 1955 to 1975. The early fleet consisted of boats from France. After 1955 and the transfer of the armed forces to Vietnamese control, the fleet was supplied from the United States...

  • Vietnam Air Force
    Vietnam Air Force
    The Vietnam Air Force began with a few hand-picked men chosen to fly alongside French pilots during the State of Vietnam era. It eventually grew into the world’s sixth largest air force at the height of its power, in 1974...

  • Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps
    Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps
    The Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps ) was part of the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam . It was established by Ngo Dinh Diem in 1954 when he was Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam, which became the Republic of Vietnam in 1955. The longest-serving commander was Lieutenant General Le...

  • Air Vietnam
    Air Vietnam
    Active from 1951 to 1975, Air Viet Nam was South Vietnam's first commercial air carrier, headquartered in District 1, Saigon. Established under Emperor Bảo Đại, the Chief of State of South Vietnam, the airline flew over one million passengers, including during the Vietnam War, before its collapse...

  • Civilian Irregular Defense Group
    Civilian Irregular Defense Group
    Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was a program developed by the U.S. government in the Vietnam War to develop South Vietnamese irregular military units from minority populations.-Purpose:...

  • Independence Palace
    Reunification Palace
    Reunification Palace formerly known as Independence Palace , built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War...

  • Leaders of South Vietnam
    Leaders of South Vietnam
    This is a list of leaders of South Vietnam, since the establishment of the Autonomous Republic of Cochinchina in 1946 until the fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975.-Autonomous Republic of Cochinchina :-Republic of South Vietnam :...

  • Vietnam
    Vietnam
    Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

  • Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

  • Flag of South Vietnam
  • National anthem of South Vietnam
    National anthem of South Vietnam
    The national anthem of South Vietnam government was originally "Thanh Niên Hành Khúc" . These anthems were written and composed by Luu Huu Phuoc , ironically, a well-known Vietnamese Communist and songwriter...


External links