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History of Hanoi

Hanoi has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC. One of the first known permanent settlements is the Co Loa citadel (Cổ Loa) 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  and later Long Đỗ . In 866, it was turned into a citadel and was named Đại La

Emperor Lý Thái Tổ made Thăng Long (today Hanoi) the capital city in the 11th century

In 1010, Lý Thái Tổ, 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 it Thăng Long - a name still used poetically to this day. It remained the capital of Vietnam until 1397, when the capital was moved to Thanh Hóa, also known as Tây Đô. Thăng Long then became Đông Đô

In 1408, Chinese Ming Dynasty attacked and occupied Vietnam, then they renamed Đông Đô as Đông Quan. In 1428, the Vietnamese overthrew the Chinese under the leadership of Lê Lợi, who later founded the Lê Dynasty and renamed Đông Quan as Đông Kinh.

In 1802, when the Nguyễn Dynasty was established and then moved the capital down to Huế, the name of Thăng Long  was modified to become different Thăng Long. In 1831 the Nguyễn emperor Minh Mạng renamed it "Hà Nội" . Hanoi was occupied by the French in 1873 and passed to them ten years later. It became the capital of French Indochina after 1887.
Colonial Hanoi

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. But the French came back 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, which were, however, promptly repaired. Following the end of the war, Hanoi became the capital of Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were reunited on July 2, 1976.
Modern Hanoi

On May 29, 2008, it was decided that Ha Tay Province, Vĩnh Phúc's Mê Linh district and 4 communes of Lương Sơn District, Hoa Binh is merged into the metropolitan area of Hanoi from August 1, 2008. Hanoi's total area increased to 334,470 hectares divided into 29 subdivisions with the new population being 6,232,940. The Hanoi Capital Region (Vùng Thủ đô Hà Nội), a metropolitan area covering Hanoi and 6 surrounding provinces under planning will have an area of 13,436 square kilometers with a population of 15 million by 2020.

On August 1, 2008, Hanoi absorbed the neighboring province of Ha Tay, Vĩnh Phúc's Mê Linh district, and four communes from Lương Sơn, Hoa Binh, effectively tripling its size.

International intervention

By the 1830s Thang Long had been relegated to a provincial capital, known merely as Ha Noi, or “City within the River’s Bend”, and in 1882 its reduced defences offered little resistance to attacking French forces, led by Captain Rivière. Initially capital of the French Protectorate of Tonkin, a name derived from Dong Kinh, meaning “Eastern Capital”, after 1887 Hanoi became the centre of government for the entire Union of Indochina. Royal palaces and ancient monuments made way for grand residences, administrative offices, tree-lined boulevards and all the trappings of a colonial city, more European than Asian. However, the Vietnamese community lived a largely separate, often impoverished existence, creating a seedbed of insurrection.

During the 1945 August Revolution, thousands of local nationalist sympathizers spilled onto the streets of Hanoi and later took part in its defence against returning French troops, though they had to wait until 1954 for their city finally to become the capital of an independent Vietnam. Hanoi sustained more serious damage during the air raids of the American War, particularly the infamous Christmas Bombing campaign of 1972. The subsequent political isolation together with lack of resources preserved what was essentially the city of the 1950s, somewhat faded, a bit battered and very overcrowded. These characteristics are still in evidence today, even as Hanoi is reinventing itself as a dynamic international capital. New market freedoms combined with an influx of tourists since the early 1990s have led to a huge growth in privately run hotels and restaurants, several of international standard, and in boutiques, craft shops and tour agencies. As ancient – and antiquated – buildings give way to glittering high-rises, and as traffic congestion increases, the big question is how much of this historic and charming city will survive the onslaught of modernization.

See more Hanoi travel guide at here.