Vietnam's capital has had a long and incredibly varied history.
Having been in existence for about 1,000 years, it has been under
the control of the French, the Chinese and the Japanese - as well
as the Vietnamese themselves. It is not certain exactly when Hanoi
was first established, but it was in 1010 that it became the
capital of the Ly Dynasty. On recognition of this honour, the city
was then called 'Thang Long', meaning 'Rising Dragon'. For the next
800 years the city thrived and grew as Vietnam's most important
trading hub and political centre.
In the early 19th century a new dynasty came to power and the
capital was moved to Hue. Around this time, Hanoi was given its current
name by Minh Mang, the emperor of the new dynasty. Soon after this
time, the French occupied the city, formally taking possession in
1883. In 1887 it was declared the capital of French Indochina, and
many of the city's buildings date from this period; parts of the
city are styles with wide boulevards, parks and lakes, and large
The Japanese occupied Hanoi from 1940 to 45, and Hanoi was
briefly declared independent at the end of World War II. France
reasserted their authority in 1946, and a longer struggle for
independence ensued. They were finally awarded full independence in
1954 and Hanoi was once again the capital - this time of North
Vietnam as the South was still separate.