Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh), commonly known as Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài Gòn) or by the abbreviations HCMC or HCM, is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).
Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, Saigon was "officially" renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
However the old Saigon name is still used by both Vietnamese and foreigners, especially when referring to the most central part of the city to which most tourists flock.
The village was situated on swampland and remained in the hands of the Khmer (Cambodians) for many centuries until floods of Vietnamese immigration arrived during the 17th Century A. The immigrants first came in 1623 with permission from the Cambodian king, but later waves came uninvited, while Cambodia was too weakened by a war with Thailand to stop them.
In 1698, Prey Nokor, and the whole lower Mekong river delta, was formally annexed by Vietnam and became known as Saigon.
Prey Nokor had been the Khmer's most important sea port, and its loss isolated them from international commerce on the South China Sea.
Saigon was a great gain to Vietnam, however, and soon grew into a major settlement.
After more than a century and a half under Vietnamese rule, Saigon fell to an invading coalition of French and Spanish forces in 1859 and then became part of the colony of French Indochina.
Under French rule, Saigon was filled with Western architecture, and French villas still remain in the city to this day.
French immigrants also filled Saigon and accounted for nearly 10% of the population by 1929.
When France fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, Saigon and French Indochina came under the administration of Vichy France, but within a matter of months, the Japanese had taken control.
Technically, the Japanese and Vichy France "co-ruled" Saigon, but it was Japan that truly ran things.
In 1945, the Communist Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam independent and soon began a guerrilla war against the restored French colonial government. During the 50's, they supported the French against all rebels. ended all involvement in Vietnam, and the Viet Minh took Saigon, renaming it Ho Chi Minh City in 1976. While in this sense the city shrank, it grew in that its borders were expanded to include its suburbs and its whole province.
Capitalist Vietnamese declared their own state in 1949, with its capital in Saigon, re-establishing the former Vietnamese emperor until the Republic of Vietnam was declared in 1956. During the 60's, the United States defended South Vietnam against incursions from the Communist North. After the "Fall of Saigon," which the victors called the "Liberation of Saigon," many Saigon residents fled to the U. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam, having eight million inhabitants, and is the nation's economic hub, accounting for 20% of national GDP.