Asia-Pacific

Vietnam profile - Timeline

A chronology of key events:

1858 - French colonial rule begins.

1930 - Ho Chi Minh founds the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP).

1941 - ICP organises a guerrilla force, Viet Minh, in response to invasion by Japan during World War II.

1945 - The Viet Minh seizes power. Ho Chi Minh announces Vietnam's independence.

1946 - French forces attack Viet Minh in Haiphong in November, sparking the war of resistance against the colonial power.

1950 - Democratic Republic of Vietnam is recognised by China and USSR.

1954 - Viet Minh forces attack an isolated French military outpost in the town of Dien Bien Phu. The attempt to take the outpost lasts two months, during which time the French government agrees to peace talks in Geneva.

Vietnam is split into North and South at Geneva conference.

1956 - South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem begins campaign against political dissidents.

1957 - Beginning of Communist insurgency in the South.

1959 - Weapons and men from North Vietnam begin infiltrating the South.

1960 - American aid to Diem increased.

1962 - Number of US military advisors in South Vietnam rises to 12,000.

1963 - Viet Cong, the communist guerrillas operating in South Vietnam, defeat units of the ARVN, the South Vietnamese Army. President Diem is overthrown.

US enters the war

1964 - US destroyer allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats. This triggers start of pre-planned American bombing raids on North Vietnam.

1965 - 200,000 American combat troops arrive in South Vietnam.

1966 - US troop numbers in Vietnam rise to 400,000, then to 500,000 the following year.

1968 - Tet Offensive - a combined assault by Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army on US positions - begins. More than 500 civilians die in the US massacre at My Lai.

1969 - Ho Chi Minh dies. President Nixon begins to reduce US ground troops in Vietnam as domestic public opposition to the war grows.

1970 - Nixon's national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, and Le Duc Tho, for the Hanoi government, start talks in Paris.

1973 - Ceasefire agreement in Paris, US troop pull-out completed by March.

1975 - North Vietnamese troops invade South Vietnam and take control of the whole country after South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh surrenders.

Reconstruction

1976 - Socialist Republic of Vietnam proclaimed. Saigon is re-named Ho Chi Minh City. Hundreds of thousands flee abroad, including many "boat people".

1979 - Vietnam invades Cambodia and ousts the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot. In response, Chinese troops cross Vietnam's northern border. They are pushed back by Vietnamese forces. The number of "boat people" trying to leave Vietnam causes international concern.

1986 - Nguyen Van Linh becomes party leader. He introduces a more liberal economic policy.

1989 - Vietnamese troops withdraw from Cambodia.

1992 - New constitution adopted allowing certain economic freedoms. The Communist Party remains the leading force in Vietnamese society.

Reconciliation

1994 - US lifts its 30-year trade embargo.

1995 - Vietnam and US restore full diplomatic relations. Vietnam becomes full member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

1997 - Le Kha Phieu becomes party leader. Tran Duc Luong chosen as president, Phan Van Khai becomes prime minister.

1998 - A senior party member, Pham The Duyet, faces charges of corruption. Economic growth slumps in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

1999 - A former high-ranking party member, Tran Do, is expelled after calling for more democracy and freedom of expression.

2000 - US President Bill Clinton pays a three-day official visit. The US pledges more help to clear landmines left over from the Vietnam war. The Vietnamese government estimates nearly 40,000 people have been killed by unexploded munitions.

2001 - The Communist Party chooses Nong Duc Manh as its new leader. US, Vietnam implement a trade agreement which normalising trade between them.

2002 - Russia hands back Cam Ranh Bay naval base, once the largest Soviet base outside the Warsaw Pact. President Tran Duc Luong reappointed for second term by National Assembly, which also reappoints Prime Minister Phan Van Khai for second five-year term.

2003 - High-profile trial of Ho Chi Minh City gangster Nam Cam and 154 others hands down six death sentences.

2003 - First US warship to visit since the Vietnam War sails into port near Ho Chi Minh City.

2004 - First US commercial flight since the end of the Vietnam War touches down in Ho Chi Minh City.

2005 - Prime Minister Phan Van Khai makes the first visit to the US by a Vietnamese leader since the end of the Vietnam War.

2006 - Senior officials are investigated over the alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars of state money in the transport ministry. As part of an anticipated political shake-up, the prime minister, president and National Assembly chairman are replaced by younger leaders.

WTO membership

2007 - After 12 years of talks Vietnam becomes member of the World Trade Organization. Government approves a $33bn plan to build a high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. US agrees for the first time to help fund a study into the removal of Agent Orange, the highly toxic defoliant, from a former US base. President Nguyen Minh Triet makes first visit to the US by a Vietnamese head of state since the Vietnam War ended. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reappointed, promises to push through economic reforms.

Media clampdown

2008 - International media campaigners condemn conviction of journalists Nguyen Viet Chien and Nguyen Van Hai, who helped expose a major corruption scandal. Latter not imprisoned after pleading guilty. Vietnam says it plans to enforce a two-child policy in an attempt to control population growth. China and Vietnam resolve border dispute 30 years after 1979 war which left tens of thousands dead. Government bans bloggers from raising "inappropriate" subjects.

2009 - Nguyen Viet Chien among more than 15,000 prisoners released under amnesty to mark Lunar New Year. Government dismisses the editors of the two largest pro-reform newspapers, over their coverage of the corruption scandal trial. Vietnam calls on China to stop preventing Vietnamese fishermen from working in what Hanoi says are its territorial waters. Pro-democracy activist Tran Anh Kim receives five-and-a-half-year jail sentence for subversion after allegedly publishing pro-democracy articles on internet.

2010 - Four activists, including prominent human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, are jailed on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Internet entrepreneur Tran Huynh Duy Thuc receives the longest sentence of 16 years. Rights groups abroad see it as a sign of an increasing clampdown on freedom of expression. Human Rights Watch accuses Vietnam government of intensifying its suppression of online dissent.

2011 - Five-yearly congress of the Communist Party reappoints Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and elects the head of the national assembly, Nguyen Phu Trong, as party secretary-general. US-Vietnam joint operation to clean up Agent Orange contamination begins. China and Vietnam sign an agreement to manage the South China Sea dispute. It includes a hotline to deal with emergencies and a provision for authorities from the two countries to meet twice a year.