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The Democratic Republic of Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia (Indochina), currently ruled by a military junta since the 2012 coup against the Worker's Party of Vietnam (formerly the Communist Party of Vietnam). Vietnam is bordered to the north by China, to the west by Burma and Siam, and to the southwest by Cambodia. It is bordered to the south and east by the South China Sea, primarily the Gulf of Tonkin. Vietnam's most prominent geographic features are the Mekong and Red rivers. The capital and largest city in Vietnam is Saigon. The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, although there is a sizeable Hmong minority in the northwest, and there are hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Siamese, Burmese, Malayan and Filipino expatriates in Vietnam, most prominently in southern cities such as Saigon, Da Nang and Hue.
The Kingdom of Vietnam existed for centuries and experienced great modernization as a protectorate of the French Foreign Legion, which based itself out of Saigon in a treaty with the monarchy in Hue as a bulwark against China. During the Pacific War, in which the Hue government sided with China, the French withdrew to Singapore to avoid becoming involved in the conflict. The Pacific War ended with Vietnam being overrun by Allied forces (in particular the Royal Army of Siam) and being partitioned into three semi-autonomous zones by the terms of the Treaty of Hue in January of 1930: the American occupation zone surrounding Saigon, the independent Vietnamese zone of influence in Hue and the central highlands, and a Chinese zone of influence based out of Hanoi and the north.
The Americans agreed to a full withdrawal of troops with the Hue government in 1946, giving the monarchy complete control over the Mekong delta again, but conflicts arose with the Chinese over the next several decades, the Chinese viewing northern Vietnam as an unofficial province of China they had earned through conquest in the Pacific War. This conflict eventually bubbled into the Vietnamese Civil War, which was fought multilaterally over the next three decades (1967-1997), in which the attempted breakaway state of Tonkin came to be dominated by the Chinese military and the Communist Party of Vietnam. Vietnam was deeply affected by the Burmese War, with Burmese attacks being launched against Chinese bases on Vietnamese soil, and the Chinese eventually withdrew from Tonkin in 1979, giving the Communists full sway. The ensuing battle against French Foreign Legion soldiers in Vietnam over the next decade and a half eventually resulted in the brief recognition of Tonkin, which received covert support from China and the United States, until the reunification of Vietnam in 1997 under the moderate, semi-communist Worker's Party, a less radical sister party of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Under the Worker's Party, Vietnam became a middle-sized economy in 15 years thanks to strong Chinese investment and a move away from strict Marxist orthodoxy.
The early 2010s economic slowdown in the industrialized world hit Vietnam particularly hard, leading to public anger towards the Worker's Party. In April 2012, following destabilization in Siam and a continuation of 2011 Asian Spring protests, the Vietnamese military staged a coup in Saigon and killed four high-ranking Worker's Party officials, officially ending the world's last Marxist state. The junta led by General Trinh Hie Nguyen dissolved the National Politburo in May and as of April 2013 have yet to schedule open elections, although a new constitution is being written with the help of civilian non-Marxist opposition leaders that will go to public referendum by the fall of 2013.