Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Hi Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is Vietnam’s largest city and economic centre. The city is also South Vietnam’s main port. Ho Chi Minh is by the Saigon River, north east of the Mekong delta.
In the Middle Ages, the city was a trade centre within Cambodia. During the seventeenth century it was taken over by the Chinese and Vietnamese, and became an administrative centre in 1699. The French settled the region in the eighteenth century, capturing Saigon in 1859. In 1862, the city became the capital of the French colony Cochinchina (including present day Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam). Saigon was transformed into a metropolitan centre, and became the chief collecting point for the export of rice. In 1940, Saigon was occupied by the Japanese, who met resistance from the Viet Minh (communist forces) led by Nguyen Tat Thanh (also known as Ho Chi Minh). A declaration of independence in 1945 opened the First Indochina War against the French colonists. The war ended in 1954, with a peace agreement reached in Geneva. Vietnam was divided into north and south regions and Saigon became the capital of South Vietnam. During the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War), Saigon was the headquarters of the US military who backed the South against the communist North. In 1975, the city was captured by North Vietnamese troops, who changed its name to Ho Chi Minh City. During the 1980s and 1990s, Ho Chi Minh City experienced rapid economic growth, particularly in the manufacture of electronic products. The average income in Ho Chi Minh City is higher than in other parts of Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s centre for livestock and consumer goods. The city has an international airport (Tan Son Nhat International Airport). Buses run to Ho Chi Minh City from Laos and Cambodia, and also link the city to the rest of Vietnam. There is a university and a Stock Exchange.
Places of Interest
The Tet (Lunar New Year Festival) falls between 19 Jan. and 20 Feb. The Reunification Palace is an example of 1960s architecture, and is preserved as it was on the day of Vietnam’s reunification. The building is used for official functions. Its basement contains a telecommunications room and a war room. The Giac Lam Pagoda is the city’s oldest pagoda (place of worship), dating from 1744. The War Remnants Museum was formerly known as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes.