Who Got What? Portugal— Java, Spice Islands, Japan at Nagasaki Spain—The Philippines
England—India, Singapore, Hong Kong
Conquest has played a significant role in the lives of the people of Vietnam for more than 2,000 years. Alternately they have conquered other peoples and have themselves been conquered by foreigners. The peoples conquered by the Vietnamese, without exception, have declined in number, vitality, and importance following the conquest. The Vietnamese, however, survived 1,000 years of Chinese colonial rule, both French and Japanese imperialism during the 1800s and 1900s and, more recently, a war that involved the United States. Vietnam emerged from the last of these conflicts stronger than ever before in its history, at least militarily. Indeed, not long after the war, it became an invader itself again, occupying adjacent Cambodia. Yet this incessant warfare left Vietnam—one of Southeast Asia's richest lands in terms of natural resources—in an almost preindustrial stage of development. Unable to serve even the nation's food needs with a state-controlled economy, Vietnam's Communist leaders made an about-face in 1987. They permitted ordinary citizens to sell crops and manufactured goods and provide services for a profit. Vietnam
Vietnam The original inhabitants of the central and eastern portions of mainland Southeast Asia were primarily the Malay peoples, who now constitute the majority populations of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. About the 4th century B.C., these and other peoples were pushed south and southwest as the Vietnamese, whose earliest known home was near modern Canton in China, moved into the Red River Delta region of northern Vietnam. Chinese pressures forced the Vietnamese to move southward. When the Chinese attempted to rule the Vietnamese indirectly, through puppet governments, the Vietnamese rebelled. The Chinese reacted by taking over Vietnam and incorporating it into their empire, ruling it from 111 B.C. to A.D. 939. In 939, the Vietnamese were able to throw off Chinese rule only to experience it again in the early 1400s. In 1427, led by Le Loi, a national hero, Vietnam again resumed its independence from imperial Chinese rule.
Vietnam Much as they disliked the Chinese, the Vietnamese were influenced by this long contact. The Vietnamese borrowed so heavily from Chinese religion, philosophy, language, arts, dress, food, and political organization that many foreigners referred to the subsequently independent land as "Little China." Yet in much of its long history, Vietnam has defined itself as China's enemy, a fact memorialized in folk song and legend.
Vietnam The Vietnamese played the role of aggressor toward peoples to the south of them. They defeated the kingdom of Champa in central Vietnam, and the subjugated Cham became an underprivileged ethnic minority in a larger Vietnamese state. Similarly, the Khmer of Cambodia, whose once-great empire extended from Myanmar to the Southeast Asian coast, were overcome by the Vietnamese and forced to withdraw into a state of a much smaller size. As the borders of the Khmer empire shrank, an impoverished Cambodian minority was left stranded in the Mekong Delta.
Vietnam France invaded Vietnam in 1858, consolidating its control there by 1883. France was to remain Vietnam's ruler until 1954, although the Japanese were actually in control as the occupying power from 1940 to 1945, during World War II.
Thailand Thailand, whose name means "Land of the Free People," is the only Southeast Asian country that has never been a colony of a European power. Visitors to Thailand who expect to find a nation frozen in the past are always startled by what they find. Thailand has borrowed freely from the West without losing its special Asian identity. It is a dynamic society. Its location at the heart of Southeast Asia has enabled it to become a regional hub of international activity. The nation's ability to adapt new ideas and technologies to suit its needs is a source of pride for the Thais. And so are Thailand's exquisite beauty and rich culture, a culture built on more than 5,000 years of tradition.
Archaeological evidence indicates that people in what is now north-eastern Thailand, in the village of Non NokTha, cultivated the world's first rice 5,000 years ago. Recent studies also point to early bronze metallurgy in nearby communities. These two factors provided the impetus for social and political organizations. Thus, these early technological innovations most likely were transmitted to China, not from China, as was long believed. Thailand
In 1238, Thai chieftains overthrew the Khmer at Sukothai, establishing the Thai Kingdom. They named it Sukhamhaeng, "Dawn of Happiness." In 1350, a new centralized kingdom emerged at Ayutthaya. Its first ruler, Rama Thibodi, established the official religion of Buddhism and compiled a legal code based on Hindu sources and Thai tradition. During this period of the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1350–1767), Thailand expanded its frontiers and became the dominant nation of mainland Southeast Asia. It also established contact with European trading powers such as Holland, Portugal, and Great Britain. In the late 1700s, Burma (now Myanmar) overwhelmed the kingdom. However, Rama I, founder of the present ruling dynasty, routed them, changed the country's name to Siam, and established Bangkok as the nation's capital. Successive rulers became preoccupied with European colonialism. That Thailand was never a colony is a source of great pride, and it can be attributed to the efforts of two kings who ruled during the mid-1800s. King Mongkut, or Rama IV (popularized in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I), and Chulalongkorn, or Rama V, are most responsible for introducing extensive reforms. Slavery was abolished, outmoded royal customs were ended, and the power of the aristocracy was limited. For the most part, however, only the top level of Thai society was changed. Life for most Thais remained the same.