South Vietnam

From Academic Kids

Việt Nam Cộng Ha
Coat of Arms (
(In Detail) (Link)
Official language Template:Ll
Capital Saigon
Last President Duong Van Minh
Last Prime Minister Vu Van Mau
 - Total
 - % water

 - Total
 - Density

19,370,000 (1973 est.)
 - Declared
 - Recognised
 - Perished
From French rule
June 14, 1949
April 30, 1975
Currency Dong (gradually phased in to replace the Piastre)
Time zone UTC +7
National anthem Thanh nin Hnh Khc (Call to the Citizens)
Caution: These data are only applied to South Vietnam (1954-1976).

South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), Template:Ll Việt Nam Cộng Ha from 1955, was an anti-communist led country that existed from 1954 to 1975 in the territory of Vietnam that lay south of the 17th parallel while North Vietnam was situated to the north of the 17th parallel. The Republic was proclaimed in Saigon by Ngo Dinh Diem on October 22, 1955, after he deposed Emperor Bao Dai. Founding of South Vietnam was based on the support of the United States. But there is debate about how closely South Vietnam was linked to the United States, which was a strong supporter of the country. Following American troop withdrawal from the Vietnam War South Vietnam government continued fighting the Viet Cong. It finally surrendered to North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front (NLF) on April 30, 1975. After that, the NLF took power and established the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam until the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam was inaugurated on July 2, 1976.



There is debate about how closely the South Vietnamese government was linked to the United States, which was a strong supporter of South Vietnam. The country is alleged by many historians to have been nothing more than an American-backed puppet government, but many others claim that it was genuine democracy or, at the least, a legitimate patriotic movement born from genuine concern for the Vietnamese people. An individual's views on the matter generally correspond closely to their views on the Vietnam War in general - supporters of US involvement often believe that South Vietnam was a democracy, and thus worthy of defence, while opponents often believe that South Vietnamese democracy was a sham.

The majority of U.S. forces withdrew from South Vietnam in 1973, in accordance with the Paris Peace Accords signed with North Vietnam in 1973. However, following major victories by the Viet Cong guerrilas in the South, and taking advantage of the Southern government's lack of popular support, North Vietnam broke the treaty in 1975 and invaded South Vietnam, quickly capturing the cities of Hue, Da Nang and Da Lat in central Vietnam, and advancing southwards very fast.

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) did mount a significant defense and even a counterattack, but they kept losing ground. South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu requested aid from U.S. President Gerald Ford, but the U.S. Senate would not ratify another involvement in Vietnam.

Nguyen Van Thieu resigned on April 21, 1975, and fled to Taiwan. He nominated his Vice President Nguyễn Co Kỳ as his successor. In one week, Nguyễn Co Kỳ handed over the presidency to General Duong Van Minh.

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam was unable to sustain the defense and quickly collapsed due to limited supplies and poor leadership. Acting President Duong Van Minh unconditionally surrendered the capital city of Saigon and the rest of South Vietnam to North Vietnam on April 30, 1975.


South Vietnam went through many political changes during its short life.

Initially, the nation was a constitutional monarchy, with Emperor Bao Dai as Head of State. The Vietnamese monarchy was unpopular however, largely because monarchical leaders were considered collaborators during French rule.

In 1955 a referendum abolished the monarchy and made Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem the country's first president. Diem quickly became a dictatorial leader however, and his corruption and incompetence prompted the South Vietnamese military to depose and kill him in 1963. The miltitary held a brief interim government until a civilian administration was installed in 1964.

In 1965 the feuding civilian government voluntarily resigned and handed power back to the nation's military, in the hope this would bring stability and unity to the nation. A joint assembly with represenatives of all the branches of the military decided to switch the nation's system of government to a parliamentary system with a strong Prime Minister and a figurehead President. There was a bicameral National Assembly consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Military rule initially failed to provide much stability however, as internal conflicts and political inexperience caused various factions of the army to launch coups and counter-coups against one another, making leadership very tumultuous. The situation stabilized when the reformist Nguyen Cao Ky became Prime Minister and helped fight corruption and political division through often heavy-handed means.

In 1967 the nation held its first, and debatably only free elections. Following the elections the nation switched back to a presidential system. The military nominated Nguyen Van Thieu as their candidate, and he was elected with a plurality of the popular vote. Thieu quickly consolidated power much to the dismay of those who hoped for an era of more political openess. His 1971 re-election was boycotted by most opposition parties and widely regarded as corrupt. Thieu ruled until the final days of the war, resigning in 1975. Duong Van Minh was the nation's final present and surrendered to the Communist forces a few weeks after assuming office.

South Vietnam was a member of the ACCT, Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), IMF, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat), Interpol, IOC, ITU, League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (LORCS), UNESCO and Universal Postal Union (UPU).


Main article: Army of the Republic of Vietnam

Total Armed Forces were over 1,000,000 in 1971, and U.S. Forces were 525, 000 in 1968.


On October 26, 1956, the military was reorganized by the administration of President Ngo Dinh Diem who then established the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Early on, the focus of the army was the Communist guerrillas of the Viet Cong, a shadow government formed to oppose the Diem administration. The United States, under President John F. Kennedy sent advisors and a great deal of financial support to aid ARVN in combating the Communist insurgents. A major campaign, developed by Ngo Dinh Nhu and later resurrected under another name was the "Strategic Hamlet Program" which was unsuccessful. ARVN and President Diem began to be criticized by the foreign press when the troops were used to crush southern religious groups like the Cao Dai and Hoa Hao as well as to raid Buddhist temples, which Diem claimed were harboring Communist guerillas.

In 1963 Ngo Dinh Diem was killed in a coup d'etat carried out by ARVN officers. In the confusion that followed Duong Van Minh took control, but was only the first in a succession of ARVN generals to assume the presidency of South Vietnam. During these years, the United States began taking full control of the war against the Communists and the role of the ARVN became less and less significant. They were also plagued by continuing problems of severe corruption among the officer corps. Although the U.S. was highly critical of them, the ARVN continued to be entirely U.S. armed and funded.

The value of the ARVN was highly questionable in this period. In 1963 at the battle of Ap Bac some 10,000 ARVN troops were defeated by only 350 Viet Cong. The battle of Dong Xoai in 1965 was another humiliating ARVN defeat. Although they always outnumbered their Communist enemies, most were inexperienced, poorly trained and not motivated to fight hard for the generals and politicians behind them. Generals tended to be political appointees and corruption was rampant. Their relations with the civilian population was never good and relations with the U.S. military were often very cold.

Starting in 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson started the process of "Vietnamization", pulling out American forces and leaving the ARVN to fight the war against the North Vietnamese People's Army. Slowly, ARVN began to expand from its pacification role to become the primary ground defense against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. From 1969-1971 there were about 22,000 ARVN combat deaths per year. Starting in 1968, South Vietnam began calling up every available man for service in the ARVN, reaching a strength of a million soldiers by 1972. In 1970 they performed well in Cambodia and were executing 3x as many operations as they had during the American war period. However, the officer corps was still the biggest problem. Leaders were often poorly trained, inept and the equipment continued to sub-standard as the U.S. tried to upgrade ARVN technology.

Relations with the public also remained poor as their only counter to Communist infiltration was to resurrect the "Strategic Hamlet" program, which the peasants resented. Disapproving Americans called this "barbed wire diplomacy". However, forced to carry the burden left by the Americans, the South Vietnamese army actually started to perform rather well and in 1970 was clearly winning the war against the Communists, though with continued American air support. The exhaustion of the North was becoming evident and the Paris talks gave some hope of a negotiated peace if not a victory.

The most crucial moment of truth for the ARVN came with General Vo Nguyen Giap's 1972 "Easter Offensive", which they code-named "Nguyen Hue" after the historic Vietnamese hero who defeated the Chinese in 1778. the first all out invasion of South Vietnam by the Communist North. The assault combined infantry wave assaults, artillery and the first massive use of tanks by the North Vietnamese. ARVN took heavy losses, but to the surprise of many, managed to hold on and stand their ground. The Communists took Quang Tri province and areas along the Lao and Khmer borders.

President Richard Nixon dispatched more bombers to provide air support for ARVN when it seemed that South Vietnam was about to be overrun. In desperation, President Nguyen Van Thieu fired the incompetent General Giai and replaced him with ARVN's best commander, General Ngo Quang Truong. He gave the order that all deserters would be executed and pulled enough forces together so that the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) failed to take Hue. Finally, with considerable U.S. air and naval support, as well as some surprising determination by the ARVN soldiers, the Easter Offensive was halted. ARVN counter-attacked and ultimately succeeded in driving the NVA out of South Vietnam, though they did retain control of northern Quang Tri province near the DMZ.

By 1973 and 1974 the United States had almost completely retreated from Vietnam and ARVN was left to fight alone, though with massive technological support, having roughly 4x as many heavy weapons as their enemies. Confident of their new power, President Nguyen Van Thieu ordered attacks against Communist regions of South Vietnam. He had been promised American air-support in case of attack, but this never came, and spending restrictions were placed on the money being sent to aid South Vietnam.

In 1975, after the end of American involvement, the NVA again invaded the south. This time, the ARVN collapsed in a total panic. City after city fell to the Communists with ARVN soldiers joining the civilians trying to flee south. The North called this the "Ho Chi Minh Campaign". All resistance crumbled. General Cao Van Vien, ARVN chief of staff, ordered his men to fight to the death, then quickly fled the country. The ARVN tried to defend Xuan Loc, their last chance before Saigon. Even according to the Communists, these men fought very well, but it was not enough. Xuan Loc was taken and on April 30, 1975, initiated the Fall of Saigon the Communists captured the city, placing the Viet Cong flag over the Indepedence Palace. General Duong Van Minh, recently appointed president by Tran Van Huong, surrendered the city and government bringing the Republic of Vietnam and also the Army of the Republic of Vietnam to a final end.

Presidents of South Vietnam

Ngo Dinh Diem (19551963) Duong Van Minh (19631964, 1975) Nguyen Khanh (1964) Phan Khac Suu (19641965) Nguyen Van Thieu (19651975) Tran Van Huong (1975) Huynh Tan Phat (19751976)


Map of South Vietnam
Map of South Vietnam

South Vietnam's capital was Saigon which was renamed Ho Chi Minh City on May 1, 1975.

Besides, the country was divided into forty-four provinces (tỉnh, singular and plural):


The south was divided into coastal lowlands, Dai Truong Son (central mountains) with high plateaus, and the Mekong River Delta.


Vietnam’s economy evolved under the burden of military actions and political issues. In 1954, the nations of North Vietnam and South Vietnam had developed their own economic structure, reflecting different economic systems with different resources and trading partners. The South maintained a free-market economy. The reunification of Vietnam in 1976 led to the introduction of North Vietnam’s centrally planned economy into the South.


About 80% of population was Kinh, and 20% was Chinese, Montagnard, Khmer, Cham, Malay and others. (1970)


Majority religions were Buddhism, Roman Catholic, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, animists and others.

Vietnamese Culture

Cultural life was strongly flavored by that of China until French domination in the 19th century. At that time, the traditional culture began to acquire an overlay of western characteristics. Many families have three generations living under one roof.

  • It is traditional for a married couple to care for the man’s parents. Also, it is very important to have a son. If there is only one son, he and his wife must live with his parents. If there are no sons, one of the daughters may remain unmarried and care for her parents. To make decisions, children must ask their parents.
  • Vietnamese males and females are not allowed to date. They grew up in their families until age 18 to 20 and marry according to their parents' arrangements. Dating is believed to undermine traditions, encouraging sons and daughters to defy their parents' wishes and bringing shame to their families. Youths who have affections for one another may carry their relationship in secrecy, but eventually yield to their parents' wills. This may mean marrying a complete stranger or someone they do not like. Pleasing their parents is a social priority and doing otherwise would be a major dishonor.

External links

id:Vietnam Selatan nl:Zuid-Vietnam ja:ベトナム共和国 no:Sr-Vietnam sv:Sydvietnam vi:Việt Nam Cộng Hòa zh:越南共和国


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