Dien Bien Phu

Dien Bien Phu
Thành phố Điện Biên Phủ
—  Provincial capital  —
Location in northern Vietnam
Dien Bien Phu is located in Vietnam
Dien Bien Phu
Location of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam
Coordinates: 21°23′N 103°1′E / 21.383°N 103.017°E / 21.383; 103.017
Country  Vietnam
Province Dien Bien Province

Điện Biên Phủ (About this sound listen) is a city in northwestern Vietnam. It is the capital of Dien Bien province, and is known for the events there during the First Indochina War, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, during which the region was a breadbasket for the Việt Minh.

Contents

Population

Statistics on Dien Bien Phu's population vary depending on definitions — figures are generally between 70,000 and 125,000. The city is growing quickly, and is projected to have a population of 150,000 by 2020.[1] The majority of the population is not ethnically Vietnamese - rather, Thai ethnic groups form the largest segment. Ethnic Vietnamese make up around a third of the population, with the remainder being Hmong, Si La, or others.

Location within Vietnam

Điện Biên Phủ lies in Muong Thanh valley, a 20-km-long and 6-km-wide basin sometimes described as "heart-shaped". It is on the western edge of Dien Bien province, of which it is the capital, and is only a short distance from the border with Laos. Until the creation of the province in 2004, it was part of Lai Chau province.

The Vietnamese government elevated Dien Bien Phu to town status in 1992, and to city status in 2003.

History

The 8th century Thai locality of Muang Then is believed to have been centered here.

Transport

National route 12 connects Dien Bien to Lai Châu. Dien Bien Phu Airport serves the city with air route to Hanoi.

Past military conflict

Operation Castor (1953)

In the 1950s, the town was known not only for its famous opium traffic, generating 500,000,000 French Francs per year, but more so for a fierce battle that would result in a major realignment of world geopolitics. It was also an extensive source of rice for the Viet Minh.[2]

The region was fortified in November 1953 by the French Union force in the biggest airborne operation of the 1946-1954 First Indochina War, Operation Castor, to block Viet Minh transport routes and to set the stage to draw out Việt Minh forces.

Siege of Dien Bien Phu (1954)

The following year, the important Battle of Dien Bien Phu was fought between the Việt Minh (led by General Vo Nguyen Giap), and the French Union (led by General Henri Navarre, successor to General Raoul Salan). The siege of the French garrison lasted fifty-seven days, from 5:30PM on March 13 to 5:30PM on May 7, 1954. The southern outpost or fire base of the camp, Isabelle, did not follow the cease-fire order and fought until the next day at 01:00AM; a few hours before the long-scheduled Geneva Meeting's Indochina conference involving the United States, the United Kingdom, the French Union and the Soviet Union.

The battle was significant beyond the valleys of Dien Bien Phu. Giap's victory ended major French involvement in Indochina and led to the accords which partitioned Vietnam into North and South. Eventually, these conditions inspired the United States to increase their involvement in Vietnam leading to the Second Indochina War. The battle of Điện Biên Phủ is described by historians as "the first time that a non-European colonial independence movement had evolved through all the stages from guerrilla bands to a conventionally organized and equipped army able to defeat a modern Western occupier in pitched battle."[3]

The Western fear of a Communist extension in Southeast Asia, named the Domino Theory by Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Dien Bien Phu siege and the departure of the French from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, was a factor leading to the direct American intervention in South Vietnam.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Dien Bien Phu: Development and Conservation in a Vietnamese Cultural Landscape, William Logan, 2005
  2. ^ The Last Valley, Martin Windrow, 2004
  3. ^ Quotation from Martin Windrow. Kenney, Michael. "British Historian Takes a Brilliant Look at French Fall in Vietnam". Boston Globe, January 4, 2005.

External links

Media links

Coordinates: 21°23′N 103°01′E / 21.383°N 103.017°E / 21.383; 103.017


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