Vietnam War (nov 1, 1955 – apr 30, 1975)
After the fall of the Japanese Empire, the Indochinese country of Vietnam refused to be retaken by the French. France thus sent in an army to counter this opposition but instead ended up fighting a communist Vietnamese force known as Viet Minh. France fought the Viet Minh for about seven years but ultimately lost the war in August 1954. After the French soldiers departed, Vietnam was left divided between two political parties - a largely communist population in the north, and a Catholic anti-communist population in the south.
The country was then temporarily divided along the 17th parallel, with the intention of unifying at the next election. As time went on however, the anti-communist leader in the South, Ngo Dinh Diem, began violently oppressing anyone he viewed as supporting communism, even establishing a death penalty for any communist activity. It was around this time that the United States began to give military support to South Vietnam, and so as tensions grew between the North and South, it was clear that by November 1955, the Vietnam War had begun.
By the 1970s, the Vietnam War had become a controversial topic that was covered heavily in the media, especially in the United States where an anti-war movement had begun.
Although some of the fightings in Vietnam had been in large-scale battles, most of the conflict since the late 1950s was fought through something called "guerrilla warfare". This guerrilla warfare involved small units of people, usually civilians, setting up ambushes and surprise attacks, before retreating back into the countryside or blending into the local population. The fact that Vietnam was covered in vast amounts of thick jungle made this style of warfare effective.
Over the years, the war also spilled into the neighboring nations of Laos and Cambodia, both of which supported South Vietnam, along with America, Thailand, Australia, and others. In North Vietnam, the communist forces continued to be backed by the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea.
Eventually, the nineteen-year-long war finally came to an end on 30th April 1975 when the South Vietnam capital of Saigon was captured by the Northern armies. The city was renamed "Ho Chi Minh City", after Ho Chi Minh, the new leader of the now reunified Vietnam. The country, however, was left devastated, with the war resulting in the deaths of well over a million people.
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