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Vietnam has been inhabited since the Paleolithic age.  In 207 BCE, a Chinese general named Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương and consolidated Âu Lạc into Nanyue. For the next thousand years, Vietnam was mostly under Chinese rule.

The people of Vietnam regained independence and broke away from China in AD 938.

Vietnam's independence was gradually eroded by France in a series of military conquests from 1859 until 1885 when the entire country became part of French Indochina. The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. Leaders such as Phan Boi Chau, Phan Chu Trinh, Phan Dinh Phung, Emperor Ham Nghi and Ho Chi Minh called for independence. On November 20, 1946, the First Indochina War between Viet Minh and the French forces ensued, lasting until July 20, 1954.

The famous Dien Bien Phu battle continued until 1975. This war is known as the “Vietnam war”. The Paris Peace Accords of January 27, 1973, formally recognized the sovereignty of Vietnam "as recognized by the 1954 Geneva Agreements". On July 2, 1976, North and South were merged to form a Socialist Republic of Vietnam.