Vietnam Lessons and Legacies of War Joshua Labove University of Chicago
What, where, who is Vietnam? • Population: 85 million, the 13th largest country in the world • Capital: Hanoi • Largest city: Ho Chi Minh City • Government system: Socialist Republic • Resources: Mostly rice (in both Northern and Southern Deltas) • Motto: Independence, liberty, happiness
Hanoi Hue Ho Chi Minh City
History of Vietnam • From 207 B.C. to the 10th Century, under the rule of the Chinese dynasties • From the 10th Century to the 19th Century, Vietnam experienced a period of independence. • In the mid-19th Century, France colonised in Vietnam • This continued until World War II--when Japan occupied Vietnam as a base for attacks against India. • After World War II, Vietnam was split in to two separate countries, North Vietnam and South Vietnam, separated by a demilitarised zone, or an area where weapons and armed forces were not permitted.
The North was supported by Communist China and Soviet Union. Ho Chi Minh had hoped his ideals of liberty and freedom would bring US support, but his Communist politics pushed US support to the South. The South was supported by the United States. The United States saw the emergence of Communism under Ho Chi Minh in the North as a threat. North Versus South Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh • Uncle Ho as he is called by Vietnamese, is both a national hero and much loved and admired citizen and scholar. • His grave in Hanoi is an important monument for the Vietnamese, and millions travel across the country to pay their respects to their leader.
People on mopeds and bikes in Hanoi pass by a sign (with Ho Chi Minh’s picture) celebrating 60 years of the modern independent Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh • Born 1890 • In 1911, jumped on board a ship to France. • While Uncle Ho spent some time studying in Westminster, England, he eventually made his way back to France. • During this time, he embraced Communism and joined the political groups rallying for human rights and equality in French Indochina--which was the area in South Asia that France occupied, including Vietnam.
The Death of Ho Chi Minh • While Uncle Ho wished to be creamated--with his ashes scattered over the North, Central, and Southern mountain valleys, the Vietnamese erected a granite castle, or mausoleum to house his body.
Vietnamese Culture and Daily Life
Vietnamese Money • Vietnam’s money is called the dong. • $1 is worth about 15,000 dong. • Even though Vietnam has its own currency, the US Dollar is still the most common form of money in the country--mostly because the dong cannot be exchanged, transferred, or used outside of Vietnam: it is embargoed currency.
Coat of arms, or official seal of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh A 500,000 Vietnamese Dong bill--the largest note in Vietnam. It’s worth about $30.
Vietnamese Food • Vietnam’s food is a mixture of its occupiers and neighbours--France, China, Thailand. • A traditional Vietnamese breakfast is a steaming hot bowl of pho, a thin noodle soup with chicken and mix of vegetables and spices. • Food in the North tends to sweeter, while food in the South tends to be spicier.
Vietnamese City Life • City dwellers in Vietnam commute on mopeds or bikes more commonly than by car. • Streets are usually one way, but have no traffic lights--which can make crossing the street a nervous experience! • In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, announcements over speakerphones wake up the citizens and call them to work and to have a successful day. • Despite its rapid growth,Vietnam does not have a McDonalds. Ho Chi Minh City opened a KFC a few years ago, however.
Religion in Vietnam • Even though the government reports that most of the country, 80% or more, is not religious, this is not entirely the case. • Today, Buddhism enjoys a large following in Vietnam, as well as several other tribal belief systems that have many similarities with other religions.
Arts and Crafts in Vietnam • Crafts, especially pottery, lacquer ware, and fabrics are very popular throughout the country. • It is common to see street side vendors selling tea sets, plates, puppets, blankets, and chopsticks.