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Ha Giang province history

Archaeological excavations carried out near Hà Giang town at Doi Thang (Pine Hill) have established the region's antiquity to about 3000 years back. During the Bronze Age Tay Yu tribals (of the, with culturally rich traditions ruled over the region; Archaeological findings in the form of bronze drums of that age used for ceremonial purposes is traced even to its present use by the Lô Lô and Pu Peo tribes of the region (Mèo Vạc, Hà Giang province).

What was later called Hà Giang Province by the French was part of bộ Tân Hưng[disambiguation needed] in ancient times, one of 15 bộ in the nation of Văn Lang. During the Ming Dynasty occupation of Vietnam, at the start of the 15th century, it was known as the district of Bình Nguyên, before being changed.

to Bình Nguyên in 1473, and later renamed châu Vị Xuyên. The French occupied this region in 1886, establishing their military garrison on the east bank of the Lô River and which became later in 1905 one of the four major military establishments in French Indochina in North Vietnam. The Vietnamese Dao tribals rebelled against the French colonial rule first in 1901 led by Triệu Tiến Kiến and Triệu Tài Lộc, which was quelled, and the former was killed in the war. However, in 1913, Triệu Tài Lộc organized another rebellion with the help of Triệu Tiến Tiến, another member of his clan, which lasted for two years till 1915. Their slogan was "No Corvees, no taxes for the French; drive out the French to recover our country; liberty for the Dao." This revolt was known as the "White Hat Revolt" since the Vietnamese carried a white flag engraved with "four ideograms to Quốc Bách Kỹ" (meaning "White Flag of the Fatherland"). The rebellion spread to Tuấn Quang, Lào Cai and Yên Bái. In 1915 the French ruthlessly suppressed the rebellion, deporting many Vietnamese and hanging at least 67"rebels".

Before 1975, Hà Giang comprised the districts of Đồng Văn, Vị Xuyên, Xín Mần, Yên Minh, Hoàng Su Phì, Bắc Quang, Thanh Thủy, and Quản Bạ.

H'Mông Kings of Sà Phìn

The history of the H'Mông Kings of the northern region of the province bordering China (Đồng Văn and Mèo Vạc) is also integral to the province as the Hmong people have dominated the region from the late 18th century. The Vương family of the Huang clan established their rule at Đồng Văn and Mèo Vạc, which was endorsed by the Nguyễn Kings.

During French colonial rule, French further supported the King to keep their hold on the border territory. Vương Chính Đức was recognized as the king of the H'Mông people in 1900. A palace befiting the king was built between 1902–03, at Sà Phìn (16 km west of Đồng Văn town) by inducting Chinese architects. The King's loyalty to the French was evident in the support that the French got from him during their campaign to put down a rebellion launched by the local tribes. In recognition, the King was given the rank of a General of the French Army (a fully uniformed King's picture is seen in the interior rooms of their palace).

The increasing opposition by the Vietnamese to the French rule saw the King adopting a neutral stance. Vương Chú Sển who succeeded his father after the latter's death in 1944, however, pledged support to Hồ Chí Minh. The historical palace of the Vương King was built in the traditional norms of Northeast Asian royal palaces. The palace built on the "Geomantic principles" has four double storied wings planned in 19th-century southern Chinese town house style with "mui luyen" ("yin-yang") tiles. The two wings are linked by three open courtyards. A moat surrounds the palace. Tombs of the royal family members, which are intricately carved in wood are located outside the palace walls. Only the walls of the buildings are made of bricks, while the other components of the buildings are made of wood.

Before 1975, Hà Giang comprised the districts of Đong Văn, Vi Xuyên, Xín Man, Yên Minh, Hoàng Su Phì, Bac Quang, Thanh Thuy, and Quan Ba.

Administrative divisions

Hà Giang is divided into: one city (thành pho) Hà Giang and 10 districts (huyen): Bac Mê District, Bac Quang District, Đong Văn District, Hoàng Su Phì District, Mèo Vac District, Quan Ba District, Quang Bình District, Vi Xuyên District, Xín Man District and Yên Minh District, five precincts, nine towns under districts, and 181 communes.


According to the General Statistics Office of the Government of Vietnam, the population of Hà Giang Province as on 2008 was 705,100 with a density of 89 persons per sqkm over a total land area of 7,945.8 square kilometres (3,067.9 sq mi) of the province. It is one of the least populated provinces in the northern midlands and mountain areas of Vietnam. The male population during this period was 346,900 with females accounting for 358,200. The rural population was 625,500 against an urban population of 79,600 (about 12% of the rural population).

Many people in Hà Giang belong to various ethnic minorities. Aside from the Kinh who form 10% of the total population of the province, the others who dominate are 22 ethnic minorities, mainly the H’Mông, Tày, Dao, Nùng, and Lô Lô. There are two rare ethnic groups of Pupeo and Phula with population of less than 400 each and dwindling.

Languages spoken in Hà Giang province include the following.

Hmong-Mien languages

Kim Mun
Pa-Hng – Bac Quang, Quang Bình

Tai languages

Giáy – Yên Minh, Đong Văn

Kra languages

Red Gelao – Yên Minh
White Gelao – Đong Văn
Qabiao (Pupeo) – Đong Văn
Lachi – Hoàng Su Phì, Xín Man, Bac Quang

Tibeto-Burman languages

Red Lolo (Mantsi) – Mèo Vac, Yên Minh
Flowery Lolo – Mèo Vac, Đong Văn
White Lolo – Mèo Vac