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Facts about Vietnam for Kids


When did the last Americans leave Vietnam? When did the government of South Vietnam surrender?

The last Americans- about 1,000- were evacuated from Saigon on April 29, 1975. The Saigon government surrendered a few hours later.

How many Americans died in the Vietnam War?

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 58,135 Americans were killed and 153,303 wounded. It is estimated that 1.3 million Vietnamese lost their lives.

Quick Facts for kids about the Vietnam War

  • Vietnam, formally the Socialist Republic of Vietnam , is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia.
  • With an estimated 91.5 million inhabitants as of 2012, it is the world’s 13th-most-populous country, and the eighth-most-populous Asian country.
  • The name Vietnam translates as “South Viet”, and was officially adopted in 1945.
  • The country is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea to the east.
  • The Vietnamese became independent from Imperial China in 938 AD, following the Battle of Bạch Đằng River.
  • Successive Vietnamese royal dynasties flourished as the nation expanded geographically and politically into Southeast Asia, until the Indochina Peninsula was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century.
  • The First Indochina War eventually led to the expulsion of the French in 1954, leaving Vietnam divided politically into two states, North and South Vietnam.
  • In 1986, the government initiated a series of economic and political reforms, which began Vietnam’s path towards integration into the world economy.
  • It was revived in the early 20th century by Phan Boi Chau’s Viet Nam Vong Quoc Su (History of the Loss of Vietnam), and later by the Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang.
  • By about 1200 BC, the development of wet-rice cultivation and bronze casting in the Ma River and Red River floodplains led to the development of the Dong Son culture, notable for its elaborate bronze drums.
  • The bronze weapons, tools, and drums of Dong Son sites show a Southeast Asian influence that indicates an indigenous origin for the bronze-casting technology.
  • By the early 10th century, Vietnam had gained autonomy, but not independence, under the Khúc family.
  • During this time, the Nguyễn expanded southern Vietnam into the Mekong Delta, annexing the central highlands of Tay Nguyen and the Khmer lands in the Mekong Delta.
  • The Japanese occupation was a key cause of the Vietnamese Famine of 1945, which caused around two million deaths, equivalent to as much as 10% of the contemporary population.
  • A 300-day period of free movement was given, during which almost a million northerners, mainly Catholic, moved south, fearing persecution by the communists.
  • In 1978, the Vietnamese military invaded Cambodia to remove from power the Khmer Rouge, who had been razing Vietnamese border villages and massacring the inhabitants.
  • Free-market reforms At the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in December 1986, reformist politicians upset by the country’s lack of economic progress replaced the “old guard” government with new leadership.
  • Vietnam holds membership of 63 international organizations, including the United Nations, ASEAN, NAM, Francophonie and WTO.
  • However, the Vietnam War destroyed much of the country’s agrarian economy, leading the post-war government to implement a planned economy to revitalize agriculture and industrialize the nation.
  • Thanks largely to these reforms, Vietnam achieved around 8% annual GDP growth between 1990 to 1997, and the economy continued to grow at an annual rate of around 7% from 2000 to 2005, making Vietnam one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
  • Vietnam operates 17 major civil airports, including three international gateways: Noi Bai serving Hanoi, Da Nang International Airport serving Da Nang, and Tan Son Nhat serving Ho Chi Minh City.
  • The influences of immigrant cultures – such as the Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien and Hainan cultures – can also be seen, while the national religion of Buddism is strongly entwined with popular culture.