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The country's history has been shaped by its location between China and India.
Straddling lines of trade between north and south, east and west, Vietnam has been a center of human trade, interaction, and conflict for centuries.
A Vietnamese patriot who also sought independence for his country in the 1400s was Le Loi.
After leading an elephant-mounted army against Chinese invaders in the 1420s, Le Loi became King of Vietnam.
Vietnam has between 70 and 80 million people, making it one of the most populous countries in the world.
Most Vietnamese live in the Red and Mekong River deltas.
In the 1500s and 1600s, Portuguese and French traders came to Vietnam.
For the next eighty years, France drained resources from Vietnam, and taxed the people.Chinese was the language used by government officials, scholars, and artists during the thousand years that China ruled Vietnam, but Vietnamese remained the popular language.In the seventeenth century, missionaries transcribed the Vietnamese language into Roman letters (the letters used to write English and other languages).In 1975, North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam and reunited the country.Almost a million Vietnamese escaped their homeland and were resettled in Western countries. Vietnamese continued to flee their country until the early 1990s.