Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chi Minh City,



city (1997 pop. 5,250,000), on the right bank of the Saigon River, a tributary of the Dong Nai, Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city, the greatest port, and the commercial and industrial center of Vietnam. It has an airport and is the focus of the country's highways, railroads, and Mekong delta waterways.

An ancient Khmer settlement (see Khmer EmpireKhmer Empire
, ancient kingdom of SE Asia. In the 6th cent. the Cambodians, or Khmers, established an empire roughly corresponding to modern Cambodia and Laos. Divided during the 8th cent., it was reunited under the rule of Jayavarman II in the early 9th cent.
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), it passed (17th cent.) to the Annamese (see AnnamAnnam
, historic region (c.58,000 sq mi/150,200 sq km) and former state, in central Vietnam, SE Asia. The capital was Hue. The region extended nearly 800 mi (1,290 km) along the South China Sea between Tonkin on the north and Cochin China on the south.
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). It was captured by the French in 1859 and ceded to France in 1862. A small village at the time of the French conquest, Saigon became a modern city under French rule. It was laid out in rectilinear fashion with wide, tree-lined avenues and parks, and soon developed a reputation for its beauty and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

The city was capital of Cochin ChinaCochin China
, Fr. Cochinchine, historic region (c.26,500 sq mi/68,600 sq km) of Vietnam, SE Asia. The capital and chief city was Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). Cochin China was bounded by Cambodia on the northwest and north, by the historic region of Annam on the
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 and from 1887 to 1902 was capital of the Union of Indochina. For administrative purposes Saigon and CholonCholon
, district and former city, since 1932 part of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; on the right bank of the Saigon River, a tributary of the Dong Nai. Cholon is the Chinese section of Ho Chi Minh City; it is connected to the city's left bank by road, rail, and canal waterways.
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, on opposite banks of the Saigon River, were merged in 1932; in 1956 the two cities were included in the new prefecture of Saigon. Saigon became the capital of the newly created state of South Vietnam in 1954. In the Vietnam WarVietnam War,
conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. The war began soon after the Geneva Conference provisionally divided (1954) Vietnam at 17° N lat.
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 it served as military headquarters for U.S. and South Vietnamese forces.

Saigon suffered considerable damage during the 1968 Tet offensiveTet offensive,
1968, a series of crucial battles in the Vietnam War. On Jan. 31, 1968, the first day of the celebration of the lunar new year, Vietnam's most important holiday, the Vietnamese Communists launched a major offensive throughout South Vietnam. It took weeks for U.S.
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, and throughout the 1960s and early 70s at least a million refugees from the rural areas poured into the city, creating serious housing problems and overcrowding. In 1975 after Saigon surrendered and Vietnam was reunited under the prevailing Communist government, the city lost its status as capital and was renamed after the late North Vietnamese president.

The local economy of Ho Chi Minh City was disrupted during the early years of the new regime, which curtailed foreign investment and promoted collectivization. In the 1980s and 90s, conditions improved as the city gradually adapted to the new system and the government relaxed its economic policy. There is a growing industrial base, which includes the manufacture of home appliances, clothing, and shoes as well as automobile assembly, but since 1990 the city also has seen undistinguished high-rise construction that has diminished its well-known charm. The city is the seat of Ho Chi Minh Univ. and a national theater.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ho Chi Minh City


(until 1976, Saigon), the largest city and the economic center of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; renamed in honor of Ho Chi Minh. Located on the Saigon River, 80 km from the point where the river empties into the South China Sea. The territory of the city is divided into sections by canals. The climate is hot and tropical, with no perceptible seasonal variations. The average annual temperature is 26°C; annual precipitation is more than 2,000 mm (the rainy season is from June to September).

The area of Ho Chi Minh City proper is 132.6 sq km; the population totals 2.4 million (1975). Together with the cities of Cho Lon and Gia Dinh, Ho Chi Minh City forms an urban zone of 700 sq km, with a population of 4 million. The inhabitants are primarily Vietnamese, but the population also includes émigrés from China, who live chiefly in the Cho Lon area in the Chinese section of the city.

The city was founded in 1778. In 1859, French troops burned it down during the war with Vietnam (1858–62); the city was rebuilt in 1860 as a French fortress. In 1867 it became the capital of the French colony of Cochin China (the southern region of Vietnam). From 1940 to 1945 it was occupied by the Japanese. On Aug. 25, 1945, the people’s revolution triumphed in Saigon (seeAUGUST REVOLUTION OF 1945 IN VIETNAM), but on September 23 an Anglo-French landing force occupied the city. From July 1954 through April 1975, Saigon was the seat of a puppet South Vietnamese government, created with the aid of imperialist circles in the USA. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, it became an arena for the political demonstrations of a broad cross section of the population against American imperialists and the Saigon authorities and in support of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam. On Apr. 30, 1975, the city was liberated by the armed forces of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City is a junction for water, air, rail, and motor vehicle routes. It is a river port and seaport, with a freight turnover of approximately 7–8 million tons per year. The city is served by Tan Son Nhut and Bien Hoa airports. The urban zone has food industries, especially rice polishing and fish, sugar, tea, and coffee processing; there is a distillery and a vegetable-oil mill. Tanning, textile, and other light industries are also developed. Small enterprises of cottage and semicottage industries predominate; there are also large modern enterprises. For the most part, machine building and metalworking are geared to servicing of the port and the means of transportation—shipyards (Ba Xon), automotive and aircraft repair shops, and bicycle assembly shops; there are also enterprises for the assembly of sewing machines and household electrical devices. There are chemical industries for plastics and synthetic fiber, cement and pulp production, and woodworking and sawmill enterprises. Artistic handicrafts include the working of ivory and bronze and the production of pottery, woven articles, and lacquer ware. Ho Chi Minh City is a major fishing center. The main commercial-industrial section of the city is Cho Lon. Rubber and marine, agricultural, and forest-industry products are exported.

After the liberation of South Vietnam, the revolutionary authorities took measures to restore and organize industrial production and other branches of Ho Chi Minh City’s economy. A number of private foreign and Vietnamese enterprises came under the direction of administrative committees, in which representatives of the revolutionary authorities, workers, and employees of the former administration participated.

Ho Chi Minh City’s layout is regular. Among the structures of the modern sections of the city, the predominant building style is colonial, that is, in the spirit of European architecture of the 19th and early 20th centuries. There are also mid-20th-century functionalist structures, including high-rise buildings. Architectural monuments include an eclectic cathedral (1883) and the Xa Loi and Vinh Ngiem Buddhist pagodas (both 18th century).

Located in Ho Chi Minh City are the University of Ho Chi Minh City, the University of Van Hanh, the National School of Finance, the National Technical Center of Phu Tho, and the Institute of Agricultural Research. The city also has the National Scientific Research Council of Vietnam, the Institute of Bacteriology and Animal Pathology, the Archaeological Research Institute, the National Library II, and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, which contains primarily works of ancient Vietnamese art.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Ho Chi Minh City

a port in S Vietnam, 97 km (60 miles) from the South China Sea, on the Saigon River: captured by the French in 1859; merged with adjoining Cholon in 1932; capital of the former Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) from 1954 to 1976; university (1917); US headquarters during the Vietnam War. Pop.: 5 030 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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