Vietnam (UK: /ˌvjɛtˈnæm, -ˈnɑːm/, US: /ˌviːətˈnɑːm, -ˈnæm/ (About this sound listen); Vietnamese: Việt Nam pronounced [vîət nāːm] (About this sound listen)), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the world’s 14th-most-populous country, and the ninth-most-populous Asian country. Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast.[d] Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976, with Ho Chi Minh City as the most populous city.
The northern part of Vietnam was part of Imperial China for over a millennium, from 111 BC to AD 939. An independent Vietnamese state was formed in 939, following a Vietnamese victory in the Battle of Bạch Đằng River. Successive Vietnamese imperial dynasties flourished as the nation expanded geographically and politically into Southeast Asia, until the Indochina Peninsula was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century.
Following a Japanese occupation in the 1940s, the Vietnamese fought French rule in the First Indochina War. On 2 September 1945 President Hồ Chí Minh declared Vietnam’s independence from France under the new name of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In 1954, the Vietnamese declared victory in Dien Bien Phu which took place between March and May 1954 and culminated in a major French defeat. Thereafter, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North Vietnam (officially the Democratic Republic of Vietnam), and South Vietnam (officially the Republic of Vietnam). Conflict between the two sides intensified in what is known as the Vietnam War, with heavy intervention by the United States on the side of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1973. The war ended with a North Vietnamese victory in 1975.
Vietnam was then unified under a Communist government but remained impoverished and politically isolated. In 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam initiated a series of economic and political reforms which began Vietnam’s path towards integration into the world economy. By 2000, it had established diplomatic relations with all nations. Since 2000, Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world, and, in 2011, it had the highest Global Growth Generators Index among 11 major economies. Its successful economic reforms resulted in its joining the World Trade Organization in 2007. It is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.