Before the 20th Century

3000 BCE to 1433 CE:

About 3,000 BCE A distinct race of Viet people emerged from the mingling of seafaring Austro-Indonesian people with people from northern Asia.

10th–3rd century BCE The ‘legendary’ Hùng Kings; kingdom of Văn Lang.

3rd century BCE Kingdom of Âu Lạc founded.

179 BCE–938 CE Domination by feudal China; periodic insurrections.

40-43 CE The Trưng sisters lead an insurrection against China that succeeds for 3 years.

938–39 Vietnamese take advantage of fall of the Tang dynasty to end direct Chinese rule.

11th–14th century Creation of a centralized feudal state; Lý and Trần Dynasties.

1010–28 Lý Thái Tổ moves capital to Thăng Long (Hà Nội); establishes Việt Nam’s first university.

1225–1400 Trần Dynasty; defeat of three Mongol invasions:

1257: Mongols under Kublai Khan reach capital, but are turned back.

1284: Defeat of Kublai Khan.

1287–88: Third invasion defeated. A main reason cited by Viet Nam historians is the strength of the socio-economic system. It includes a beloved village culture tied to nature’s harmony. People fought to defend it from frequent invasions during 2,000 years.

1407–27 Struggle against Ming (Chinese) domination.

1428–33 Emperor Lê Thái Tổ (Lê Lợi) defeats the Ming and establishes the Lê Dynasty.

15th century

The nation exported high-quality glazed ceramics in Southeast Asia, to Turkey, Persia, and, by the 16th century, to Europe.

1535–40 Portuguese establish trading port near Đà Nẵng.

1616 Jesuits build first mission in Vietnam.

1627 Alexander de Rhodes, French missionary, develops a Roman alphabet for the Vietnamese language.

1680 First French trading post established.

18th–19th century

1771–1802 The Tây Sơn movement overthrows the Trịnh feudal lords (of the northern part of the country) and the Nguyễn (of the southern) defeats the Chinese and reunites the country.

1802 The Tây Sơn are overthrown by Nguyễn Ánh (also know as Gia Long) who establishes Vietnam’s last dynasty – the Nguyễn

1804 The name Vietnam (Việt Nam) is officially adopted.

1820 Captain John White of Salem, Massachusetts, USA is the first American known to have set foot in Vietnam.

1843 Permanent French naval fleet deployed in Asian waters.

1858 – 1862 French attack Đà Nẵng, occupy Gia Định; Huế court hands over three eastern provinces of Cochin China to France.

1860 – 1864 First uprisings against the French by Vietnamese.

1867 French occupy three Western provinces of Cochin China.

1870s U.S. merchant ships load rice cargoes at Sai Gon and engage in a coastal trade, including to China.

1873–82 French occupy Hà Nội.

1873 onward Uprisings against the French by Vietnamese.

1883 The French claim to establish “protectorates” over Annam and Tonkin, and to rule Cochin China as a colony, but Pulitzer Prize-winning Embers of War says all three are colonies.

1885 Standard Oil Company is in Viet Nam selling kerosene oil for lamps. Worldwide, Standard sells kerosene to small buyers

1887 France creates Indochinese Union composed of Cochin China, Annam, Tonkin, and Cambodia.

1888 The French export rice to support large commercial firms in financial trouble in French cities. The rice exports cause nationwide malnutrition in Viet Nam from the 1880s onward, through the entire colonial period.

1889 U.S. State Department opens a consular office in Sai Gon.

1890 19 May – Hồ Chí Minh is born in Nghệ An province.

1890s A consul writes that sales of some U.S. goods enjoy “great favor.”