The region that is now Vietnam has been inhabited for thousands of years. In the New Stone Age, which began about 1500 B.C. in Southeast Asia, it was occupied by tribal groups of Indonesian racial stock. In the fourth century B.C., the ancestors of the modern Vietnamese, a Mongoloid people, migrated from southern China to what is now the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam. There they encountered the Indonesian people, with whom they fought and later mixed. An important settlement of this period has been uncovered by archeologists at Dong Son.

Important dates in Vietnam
111 B.C. The Chinese conquered Nam Viet, a kingdom in what is now northern Vietnam.
A.D. 939 China ended its rule over the Vietnamese, who then set up an independent state.
1802 Nguyen Anh united the country and called it Vietnam.
1860's-1880's France took control of Vietnam.
1940–1945 Japan controlled Vietnam during World War II.
1946 War began between France and the Vietminh.
1954 The Vietminh defeated the French. The Geneva Conference temporarily divided Vietnam into two zones.
1957 The Vietnam War began, as Communist-supported rebels began a revolt against the South Vietnamese government.
1973 United States participation in the Vietnam War ended.
1975 The Vietnam War ended on April 30 with the surrender of South Vietnam.
1976 The Communists unified North and South Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
1986 Vietnam began an economic reform program known as doi moi.