Vietnam – Asia's newest economic tiger
CBC News Online | May 2, 2005
Few countries have endured more turmoil through history than Vietnam. It has been occupied, subjugated, invaded, divided, and otherwise ravaged more times than most historians can count.
The modern world still thinks of Vietnam as the Southeast Asian country that was the scene of decades of bloody fighting with the French, the Americans, and with fellow Vietnamese from the other side of a border that no longer exists.
But "victim" is a label the new Vietnam is reluctant to wear. With the end of the Vietnam War now 30 years in the past, this country bears little resemblance to any version of the country that came before.
The legacy of that long war? No time to dwell on that – not in the modern Vietnam. This ancient country is in one key dimension actually very young. The majority of Vietnam's citizens are under the age of 30, so never knew the war first hand.
For them, Vietnam is now a place to capitalize on the peace and practise free enterprise with a vengeance. Exports are booming (including to its former enemy, the U.S.). The world is Vietnam's new marketplace.
To be sure, Vietnam still remains a poor country. The gaps between rich and poor, urban and rural, are growing ever wider. But the energy in Ho Chi Minh City these days is unmistakable.
Still officially communist, Vietnam's economic vigour astonishes current visitors, who are witnessing the fevered resurgence of a country determined to be the latest member of Asia's elite and competitive club – the economic tigers.
Vietnam timeline - A century of tumult
Vietnam becomes part of French Indochina.
French are defeated at Dien Bien Phu by Communist forces under Ho Chi Minh. Vietnam is divided at the 17th parallel into two countries, North and South.
Ngo Dinh Diem becomes president of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).
Communists support insurgency in South Vietnam; send weapons and fighters south along "Ho Chi Minh Trail." U.S. economic and military aid to South steadily increases.
U.S.-backed coup succeeds in overthrowing and assassinating Diem.
North Vietnamese patrol boats attack U.S. destroyers in Gulf of Tonkin; U.S. begins bombing in North
First deployment of U.S. combat troops in Vietnam.
Vietnam war continues to escalate; 500,000 U.S. troops in country.
Secret peace talks begin in Paris.
Ceasefire signed in Paris; U.S. troops withdraw by March. More than 58,000 American soldiers have died, along with an estimated three million Vietnamese.
Communist forces move south, seizing Saigon on April 30.
Mobs of South Vietnamese try to scale the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, April 29, 1975, trying to reach the evacuation helicopters as the last of the Americans departed from Vietnam. (AP Photo/Neal Ulevich, File)
Vietnam is reunified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; Saigon is renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam invades Cambodia, topples Pol Pot and installs a Vietnamese-backed government
Vietnamese and Chinese forces clash in brief border war.
1980s and 1990s:
Vietnam tries to attract foreign investment but meets with limited success as little progress is made in economic or political liberalization.
U.S. ends economic embargo of Vietnam.
U.S. and Vietnam establish diplomatic relations.
Economic moderate Nong Duc Manh becomes leader of Vietnam's Communist party; brings in major economic reforms to encourage the country to compete on world stage for export business.
Vietnam hopes to be admitted to the World Trade Organization by the end of the year.