American involvement in the war in Viet Nam lasted nearly 20 years, from 1956 until 1975. Here, South Vietnamese soldiers, supported by the U.S., slog through the jungles in 1968.

Photograph by W. E. Garrett, National Geographic
  • On April 30, 1975, the Vietnam War ended as North Vietnamese troops captured the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. All Americans remaining in the city were evacuated. Saigon was immediately renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after the late revolutionary leader of Vietnam.

    The conflict in Vietnam waged for almost 20 years. North Vietnam wished to unify the country under a single communist regime, while the South wished to remain closely aligned with the West. This civil war served as a proxy battleground for the Cold War, with the U.S. sending troops and equipment to South Vietnam, and the Soviet Union supporting North Vietnam. Known as the longest and most controversial war in U.S. history, the death toll reached more than 3,000,000. More than half of those who died were civilians and 58,000 were Americans. In July 1976, a military government was instituted and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Its capital is Hanoi. 

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    capture Verb

    to take or control.

    city Noun

    large settlement with a high population density.

    civilian Noun

    person who is not in the military.

    civil war Noun

    conflict between groups in the same country or nation.

    Cold War Noun

    (1947-1991) conflict between the Soviet Union (and its allies) and the United States (and its allies). The two sides never confronted each other directly.

    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    controversial Noun

    questionable or leading to argument.

    equipment Noun

    tools and materials to perform a task or function.

    evacuate Verb

    to leave or remove from a dangerous place.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    revolutionary Adjective

    new or innovative.

    Soviet Union Noun

    (1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

    troop Noun

    a soldier.

    wage Verb

    to carry out.

    West Noun

    having to do with the developed nations of Europe and North America.