Key events in the background to the Vietnam war:
- Viet Minh - a broad front of Vietnamese patriots and nationalists controlled by the Communist Party - seize power. Ho Chi Minh announces independence.
- French forces attack Viet Minh in Haiphong in November sparking the war of resistance against France.
- Democratic Republic of Vietnam is recognised by China and USSR.
- At Geneva Conference, Vietnam is split into North and South at the 17th Parallel.
- South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem begins campaign against political dissidents.
- Beginning of communist insurgency in the South.
- Weapons and men from North Vietnam begin infiltrating the South.
- American aid to Diem increased.
- Number of US military advisers in South Vietnam rises to 12,000.
- Viet Cong, the communist guerrillas operating in South Vietnam, defeat units of ARVN, South Vietnamese Army. President Diem overthrown.
- US destroyer allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats. This triggers start of pre-planned American bombing raids on North Vietnam.
- 200,000 American combat troops arrive in South Vietnam.
- US troop numbers in Vietnam rise to 400,000, then to 500,000 the following year.
- Tet Offensive - a combined assault by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army on US positions - begins. More than 500 civilians die in My Lai massacre.
- President Nixon draws back US ground troops from Vietnam.
- Nixon's National Security adviser, Henry Kissinger, and Le Duc Tho, for the Hanoi government, start talks in Paris.
- Ceasefire agreement in Paris, US troop pull-out completed by March.
- North Vietnamese troops invade South Vietnam and take control of the whole country after South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh surrenders.