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South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam (RVN; Vietnamese: Việt Nam Cộng Hòa - VNCH), is a country in Southeast Asia. Located on the southeastern coast of the Indochina Peninsula, the country is bordered by North Vietnam to its north, Cambodia to its west, Laos to its northwest, and the South China Sea (also known as the East Sea) to its east. South Vietnam has a population of about 52.926 million, making it the 26th-most populous country in the world.
Formerly a corrupt and repressive dictatorship, South Vietnam has since then transitioned into a democracy starting in the early-1990s and is now among the most prosperous countries in Southeast Asia. It has experienced an economic miracle, known as the Miracle on the Mekong, since 1980. Its nominal GDP stood at $1.252 trillion (or $23,662 per capita), making it the 16th-largest economy in the world. The capital city of Saigon, nicknamed the "Pearl of the Orient", has been ranked as one of the most livable cities in Asia. The country also excels in technological development, like South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
South Vietnam was initially formed in 1949, during the First Indochina War as the State of Vietnam, with the last emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty, Bảo Đại, as the head of state. The State of Vietnam claimed authority over the entirety of Vietnam; however, as the Viet Minh controlled the Northern region at the time, the State of Vietnam's authority was never effective in that region. On October 23, 1955, after a fraudulent referendum, Bảo Đại was deposed by his prime minister, Ngô Đình Diệm, who later proclaimed the Republic of Vietnam in its place and became the first president.
The Paris Peace Accords were signed on January 27, 1973, in which the United States formally withdrew all combat troops from Vietnam. Richard Nixon was keen on strictly enforcing the treaty in order to prevent war from breaking out again and North Vietnam conquering South Vietnam, which would allow Communism to expand its influence in Southeast Asia. To do so, a multinational peacekeeping force was sent by the United Nations to the DMZ to monitor the agreement.
On January 19, 1974, the People's Republic of China (PRC) attacked the South Vietnamese-owned Crescent Group of the Paracel Islands. However, with US air/naval support and without the threat of a North Vietnamese invasion, South Vietnam was able to push back the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), resulting in a South Vietnamese tactical victory.
Reforms and Democratization
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu officially stepped down from power in 1982 amid his unpopularity and protests against him demanding democratic reforms in the country.
Government and politics
The government of South Vietnam is based on the constitution of the Republic of Vietnam, which was adopted in 2002; previous constitutions for the country were written in 1956 and 1967. The government functions as a semi-presidental system. The President and Prime Minister both exercise power in the government.
South Vietnam's armed forces are formally known as the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces (RVNMF); they consist of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the Vietnam Air Force (VNAF), and the Republic of Vietnam Navy (VNN). The ARVN has 580,000 active soldiers, with 2,770,000 soldiers in reserves, making it the second-largest army in Southeast Asia, behind only North Vietnam.
South Vietnam is a free market economy. The country's rapid modernization following the end of hostilities of the Vietnam War turned it into one of the Five Asian Tigers (the others being Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan).
The destruction left as a result of the Vietnam War, initially, impended the country's rebuilding, but with extensive American support and partly because of the country's Confucian-based culture, it was able to successfully avoid a serious economic disaster and recover. In addition, the country experienced a rapid economic growth starting at the beginning of the 1980s, which led to a dramatic increase in the standard of living.
South Vietnam's nominal GDP in 2015 stood at about $1.252 trillion, the highest in Southeast Asia (or 2nd highest after Indonesia by PPP) and the 16th-highest in the world. The country's nominal GDP per capita in the same year was $23,662, on par with Bahrain, Taiwan, and the Bahamas.