South Vietnam

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Quốc gia Việt Nam (1949-1955)
Việt Nam Cộng Hòa (1955-1975)
Cộng Hòa Miền Nam Việt Nam (1975-1976)
Image:Flag of South Vietnam.svg Image:South Vietnam coat of arms.gif
(Flag of South Vietnam) (Coat of arms of South Vietnam)
Official language Vietnamese
Capital Saigon
Last President Duong Van Minh
Last Prime Minister Vu Van Mau
 - Total
 - % water

173,809 km²
 - Total
 - Density

19,370,000 (1973 est.)
 - Declared
 - Recognised
 - Regime change
 - Dissolved
From French rule
June 14, 1949
October 26, 1955
April 30, 1975
Currency đồng (gradually phased in to replace the piastre)
Time zone UTC +7
National anthem Thanh niên Hành Khúc (Call to the Citizens)

South Vietnam is the commonly used name for the former Vietnamese country that existed from 1954 to 1976 in the portion of Vietnam that lay south of the 17th parallel. North Vietnam was situated to the north of the 17th parallel. The division of Vietnam occurred during the Geneva Conference, after the Viet Minh fought to end almost 100 years of French rule in Indochina.


[edit] Location

South Vietnam, officially the State of Vietnam, (Vietnamese: Quốc gia Việt Nam) from 1954 to 1955, the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), (Vietnamese: Việt Nam Cộng Hòa) from 1955 to 1975, and the Republic of South Vietnam (Vietnamese: Cộng Hòa Miền Nam Việt Nam) from 1975 to 1976, was a country that existed from 1954 to 1975 in the territory of Vietnam that lay south of the 17th parallel.

[edit] History

[edit] Founding: the State of Vietnam

Unlike the other French possessions in Indochina (Annam, Tonkin, Cambodia and Laos), which were nominally protectorates, the southern part of Vietnam was the colony of Cochin-China, which had its capital at Saigon. As a colony it occupied a different legal position from the protectorates of Annam and Tonkin; it had been annexed to France in 1862, and even elected a deputy to the French National Assembly. French colonial interests were thus stronger in Cochin-China than in other parts of French Indochina. As such, during the First Indochina War the French government initially attempted to keep the status of Cochin-China separate from that of the rest of Vietnam, even going so far as constituting it an independent republic within the Indochinese Federation in 1946, but this proved unacceptable to the Viet Minh and in 1949 Cochin-China was eventually reunited with the other parts of Vietnam (Annam and Tonkin).

The State of Vietnam was created through co-operation between anti-communist Vietnamese and the French government on June 14, 1949 during the First Indochina War, and the Emperor Bao Dai took up the position of Chief of State (Quoc Truong). This was known as the 'Bao Dai Solution', and was an attempt by the French to grant partial independence to Vietnam, while still retaining substantial control over the country, and keeping it from communist rule. Such a formulation was rejected by the communist Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh, who were fighting the French for full independence for Vietnam.

In 1954 it was determined by the Geneva Conference that the State of Vietnam would rule the territory of Vietnam south of the 17th parallel, of which the former colony of Cochin-China formed the heartland, pending unification on the basis of supervised elections (see Geneva Conference (1954)) in 1956. The elections and unification did not take place as planned (see below). When the territory was divided in this way, approximately 800,000 to 1 million North Vietnamese, mainly Vietnamese Roman Catholics, fled south due to what they perceived as "communist persecution" in the North. The Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed in Saigon by Ngô Ðình Diệm on October 22, 1955, after the Emperor Bảo Ðại was deposed.

[edit] 1955-1963

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[edit] 1963-1973

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[edit] 1973-1975

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In accordance with the Paris Peace Accords signed with North Vietnam in 1973 all U.S. military forces withdrew from South Vietnam. Under the terms of the Accords North Vietnamese troops were not required to withdraw from South Vietnam. Taking advantage of the Southern government's lack of American aid, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in 1975, quickly capturing the cities of Hue, Da Nang and Da Lat in central Vietnam, and advancing southwards.

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) mounted a defense and a counterattack, but kept losing ground. South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu requested aid from U.S. President Gerald Ford, but the U.S. Senate would not release money to provide aid to South Vietnam, and had already passed laws to prevent further involvement in Vietnam.

Nguyen Van Thieu resigned on April 21, 1975, and fled to Taiwan. He nominated his Vice President Tran Van Huong as his successor. In one week, Tran Van Huong handed over the presidency to General Duong Van Minh, who tried, unsuccessfully, to open negotiations with the North. The North refused to negotiate an end to the war.

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam was unable to sustain the defense of South Vietnam and eventually collapsed, due to limited supplies of everything from food to ammunition to gasoline. Acting President Duong Van Minh unconditionally surrendered the capital city of Saigon and the rest of South Vietnam to North Vietnam on April 30, 1975.

[edit] Relationship with the United States

The history of the relationship with the United States is controversial. Some historians say the founding of South Vietnam was based on the United States' need to create an "anti-communist" base in Southeast Asia. Opponents argue that it was based on popular support of the South Vietnamese people. The U.S. and the Diem government agreed that elections mandated by the Geneva Conference (1954) should not occur, claiming that the communists could not be trusted to conduct a fair election in the North. The dominant political rationale for supporting the South Vietnamese government was America's containment policy, which was designed to hold back the spread of communism during the Cold War.

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 (also known as the NLF or Viet Cong), which initiated an organised 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 John F. Kennedy, initially sent military advisers to South Vietnam, and later acquiesced in the removal of President Diem in a military coup. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson decided to send in combat troops, and conflict steadily escalated to become what is commonly known as the Vietnam War. 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 on April 30, 1975, the day of the surrender of Saigon. North Vietnam controlled South Vietnam under military occupation, while the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, which had been proclaimed in June 1969 by the NLF, established the Republic of South Vietnam but the republic never really had any of the authority of a government. The North Vietnamese quickly moved to marginalise non-communist members of the PRG and integrate South Vietnam into the communist north. The unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam was inaugurated on July 2, 1976.

[edit] Controversial history

History of Vietnam series
Image:Viet Nam Trong.png

Hồng Bàng | Hung Lords

An Dương Vương (257–207 BC)
Triệu Dynasty (207–110 BC)
First Chinese domination (110 BC–AD 40)
The Trưng Sisters' revolt (40–43)
Second Chinese domination (43–544)
Lý Nam Đế (544–548)
Lý Thiên Bảo (548)
Triệu Việt Vương (548–570)
Latter Hau Lý Nam Đế (571–602)
Third Chinese domination (602–906)
The Khuc family (906–923)
Ngô Dynasty (939–967)
Đinh Dynasty (968–980)
Anterior Lê Dynasty (980–1009)
Lý Dynasty (1009–1225)
Trần Dynasty (1225–1400)
Hồ Dynasty (1400–1406)
Fourth Chinese domination (1406–1427)
Later Lê Dynasty (1428–1527)
Mạc Dynasty (1527–1532)
Trịnh Lords (1533–1789)
Nguyễn Lords (1558–1775)
Tây Sơn Dynasty (1778–1802)
Nguyễn Dynasty (1802–1945)
Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1945–1976)(North)
State of Vietnam (1949–1955)(South)
Republic of Vietnam (1955–1975)(South)
Republic of South Vietnam (1975–1976)(South)
Vietnam War
(Second Indochina War)
Socialist Republic of Vietnam (1976–Present)

There is much controversy about how closely the South Vietnamese government was linked to the United States. While it is clear that Ngo Dinh Diem was initially the favored candidate of the United States to rule South Vietnam, he later displayed a sufficiently independent and nationalistic streak that the American government assented to his removal by a coup. It has been claimed that, in particular, the South Vietnamese government of Nguyen Van Thieu was nothing more than an American puppet, and point to American connivance in Thieu's manipulation of the 1971 South Vietnamese Presidential election as evidence. On the other hand, some point to sharp differences between Thieu and Nixon at the time of the Paris Peace Accord to demonstrate that he was not a puppet. The historical consensus is that there existed a symbiotic relationship between the Thieu government and US military involvement in Indochina: without American support the Thieu government could not survive; while the US needed to maintain the Thieu government to be able to continue its involvement in Indochina. The removal of one of these factors would invevitably bring about the end of the other.

[edit] Politics

South Vietnam went through many political changes during its short life.

Initially, the nation was a constitutional monarchy, with Emperor Bao Dai as Head of State. The Vietnamese monarchy was unpopular however, largely because monarchical leaders were considered collaborators during French rule.

In 1955 a republican referendum, which is largely considered to have been rigged due to the active presence of pro-republican military forces at voting booths and the 98% vote in favour of the movement, abolished the monarchy and made Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem the country's first president. Despite successes in politics, economics, and social change in the first 5 years, Diem quickly became a dictatorial leader. With the acquiescence of the United States government, ARVN officers staged a coup and killed him in 1963. The military held a brief interim government until a civilian administration was installed in 1964.

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. A joint assembly with representatives of all the branches of the military decided to switch the nation's system of government to a parliamentary system with a strong Prime Minister and a figurehead President. There was a bicameral National Assembly consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. 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 when the reformist Nguyen Cao Ky became Prime Minister and helped fight corruption and political division through often heavy-handed means.

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 Nguyen Van Thieu 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 1975. Duong Van Minh 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, Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), IMF, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat), Interpol, IOC, ITU, League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (LORCS), UNESCO and Universal Postal Union (UPU).

[edit] Leaders of the Republic of Vietnam

[edit] Republic of South Vietnam

Following the surrender of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces on April 30 1975, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam established itself in Saigon as the government of the Republic of South Vietnam. However, it lacked real autonomy and was largely under the control of the North Vietnamese. The Republic of South Vietnam was dissolved in July 1976 when it merged with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) to become the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

[edit] Army

On October 26, 1956, the military was reorganized by the administration of President Ngo Dinh Diem who established the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN, pronounced "arvin"). Early on, the focus of the army was combatting the guerrilla fighters of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF, also known as the Viet Cong) an insurgent movement formed to oppose the Diem administration. The United States, under President John F. Kennedy sent advisors and a great deal of financial support to aid ARVN in combating the Viet Cong insurgents. 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 and Hoa Hao as well as to raid Buddhist temples, which Diem claimed were harboring Communist guerrillas.

In 1963 Ngo Dinh Diem was killed in a coup d'etat carried out by ARVN officers led by Duong Van Minh ('Big Minh'). 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 some 1,400 ARVN troops were defeated by only 350 NLF guerrillas. The battle of Dong Xoai in 1965 was another humiliating ARVN defeat. Although they always outnumbered their nationalist enemies, most were inexperienced, poorly trained, and not motivated to fight hard for the generals and politicians behind them. Generals tended to be political appointees and corruption was rampant. Their relations with the civilian population were never good and relations with the U.S. military were often very cold.

Starting in 1969, President Richard M. Nixon started the process of "Vietnamization," pulling out American forces and leaving the ARVN to fight the war against the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). Slowly, ARVN began to expand from its counter-insurgency role to become the primary ground defense against the NLF and North Vietnamese. From 1969-1971 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 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. Leaders were often poorly trained, inept and the equipment continued to sub-standard as the U.S. tried to upgrade ARVN technology.

Relations with the public also remained poor as their only counter to NLF organizing was to resurrect the 'Strategic Hamlet Program' which many peasants resented. Disapproving Americans called this "barbed wire diplomacy." 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 talks gave some hope of a negotiated peace if not a victory.

The most crucial moment of truth for the ARVN came with General Vo Nguyen Giap's 1972 "Easter Offensive," the first all-out invasion of South Vietnam by the communist North. It was code-named "Nguyen Hue" after the historic Vietnamese hero who defeated the Chinese in 1778. 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 dispatched more bombers to provide air support for ARVN when it seemed that South Vietnam was about to be overrun. In desperation, President Nguyen Van Thieu fired the incompetent General Hoàng Xuân Lãm and replaced him with ARVN's best commander, General Ngo Quang Truong. He gave the order that all deserters would be executed and pulled enough forces together so that the North Vietnamese army (PAVN) failed to take Hue. Finally, largely as a result of U.S. air and naval support, as well as some surprising determination by the 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 the war officially ended, however clashes between ARVN and NLF forces continued.

In 1975 the PAVN 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. General Cao Van Vien, ARVN chief of staff, ordered his men to fight to the death, then quickly fled the country. The ARVN tried to defend Xuan Loc, their last line before Saigon. These men fought very well, but it was not enough. The men were greatly outnumbered and overwhelmed by the entire army of North Vietnam. Xuan Loc was taken and on April 30, 1975, initiated the Fall/Liberation of Saigon. The army of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam captured the city, placing the Vietnam National Liberation Front flag over the Independence Palace even though the NLF had accomplished almost nothing during the battles and had almost no authority within the country. General Duong Van Minh, recently appointed president by Tran Van Huong, unconditionally surrendered the city and government bringing the Republic of Vietnam and also the Army of the Republic of Vietnam to a final end.

[edit] Provinces

Map of South Vietnam

South Vietnam's capital was Saigon which was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City on May 1, 1975 after unconditionally surrendering to the North.

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

[edit] Geography

The South was divided into coastal lowlands, Dai Truong Son (central mountains) with high plateaus, and the Mekong River Delta.

[edit] Economy

Vietnam’s economy evolved under the burden of military actions and political issues. In 1954, the nations of North Vietnam and South Vietnam had developed their own economic structure, reflecting different economic systems with different resources and trading partners. South Vietnam maintained a free-market economy with ties to the west. It established the first Airline under Emperor Bao Dai, named Air Vietnam. The economy of South Vietnam was artificially inflated by American aid and the presence of large numbers of Americans in the country between 1961 and 1973. After 1973 the country suffered economic shocks due to the removal of American spending and an increase in the price of oil. 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 fall of the Soviet Union and the end of Soviet aid, the leadership of Vietnam accepted the need for change. Their occupation armies were withdrawn from Laos and Cambodia. 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.

[edit] Demographics

About 80% of population was Kinh, and 20% was Chinese, Montagnard, Khmer, Cham, Malay and others. (1970)

[edit] Culture

Principal religions were Buddhism, Roman Catholic, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, animists and others.

[edit] Vietnamese culture

Cultural life was strongly influenced by China until French 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.

It is traditional for a married couple to care for the man’s parents. Also, it is very important to have a son. If there is only one son, he and his wife must live with his parents. If there are no sons, one of the daughters may remain unmarried and care for her parents. To make decisions, children must ask their parents.

Vietnamese males and females were not allowed to date. They grew up in their families until age 18 to 20 and marry according to their parents' arrangements. Dating is believed to undermine traditions, encouraging sons and daughters to defy their parents' wishes and bringing shame to their families. Youths who have affections for one another may carry their relationship in secrecy, but eventually yield to their parents' wills. This may mean marrying a complete stranger or someone they do not like. Pleasing their parents was a social priority and doing otherwise would have been a major dishonor. However, the majority of young Vietnamese males and females are free to date and marry as they choose.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

es:Vietnam del Sur fr:République du Viêt Nam ko:남베트남 id:Vietnam Selatan it:Vietnam del sud nl:Zuid-Vietnam ja:ベトナム共和国 no:Sør-Vietnam pl:Wietnam Południowy pt:Vietname do Sul ru:Южный Вьетнам simple:South Vietnam sr:Јужни Вијетнам fi:Etelä-Vietnam sv:Sydvietnam vi:Việt Nam Cộng Hòa zh:越南共和国

South Vietnam

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