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Hanoi History

Hanoi has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC. One of the first known permanent settlements is the Co Loa citadel founded around 200 BC. Hanoi has had many names throughout history, all of them of Sino-Vietnamese origin. During the Chinese domination of Vietnam, it was known as Tống Bình (“Song Peace”) and Long Đỗ (“Dragonbelly”). In 866, it was turned into a citadel and named Đại La (“Big Net”).

In 1010, Ly Thai To, the first ruler of the Lý Dynasty, moved the capital of Đại Việt to the site of the Đại La Citadel. Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed the site Thăng Long (“Rising Dragon”) – a name still used poetically to this day. Thăng Long remained the capital of Đại Việt until 1397, when it was moved to Thanh Hóa, then known as Tây Đô, the “Western Capital”. Thăng Long then became Đông Đô the “Eastern Capital.”

In 1408, the Chinese Ming Dynasty attacked and occupied Vietnam, changing Đông Đô’s name to “Eastern Gateway”, Đông Quan in Vietnamese. In 1428, the Vietnamese overthrew the Chinese under the leadership of Lê Lợi, who later founded the Lê Dynasty and renamed Đông Quan Đông Kinh (“Eastern Capital”) or Tonkin. Right after the end of the Tây Sơn Dynasty, it was named Bắc Thành (“Northern Citadel”). In 1802, when the Nguyễn Dynasty was established and moved the capital to Huế, the old name Thăng Long was modified to become Thăng Long (“Ascending & Flourishing”). In 1831, the Nguyễn emperor Minh Mạng renamed it Hà Nội (“Between Rivers” or “River Interior”). Hanoi was occupied by the French in 1873 and passed to them ten years later. As Hanoï, it became the capital of French Indochina after 1887.

The city was occupied by the Japanese in 1940 and liberated in 1945, when it briefly became the seat of the Viet Minh government after Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam. However, the French returned and reoccupied the city in 1946. After nine years of fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces, Hanoi became the capital of an independent North Vietnam in 1954. During the Vietnam War, Hanoi’s transportation facilities were disrupted by the bombing of bridges and railways. These were all, however, promptly repaired. Following the end of the war, Hanoi became the capital of a reunified Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were reunited on July 2, 1976.

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