The Vietnam War was a long war in Southeast Asia. It began in 1954 after the country of Vietnam was divided into two parts: North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam wanted to reunify the country under the Communist political and economic framework. South Vietnam attempted to prevent this from occurring.
Vietnam was a French colony before World War II. During World War II, Japan took control of the area. When the war ended, Vietnamese revolutionary and communist Ho Chi Minh desired independence for his nation. All the Allies agreed however that Vietnam belonged to the French. Ho Chi Minh and his rebels finally began a fight against the French. He attempted to seek assistance from the United States, but they did not want Ho to succeed because they were concerned about the rise of communism throughout Southeast Asia. When Ho began to have success against the French, the US got more alarmed. In 1950, they began supplying help to the French in Vietnam. In 1954 the French lost the battle to the Vietnamese. They decided to lose control over Vietnam.
The country was divided into two parts: a communist Northern Vietnam and Southern Vietnam. It was scheduled to be unified in 1956 by a single election. The US, on the other hand, did not want the country to become communist. They helped Ngo Dinh Diem's election in the South. President Lyndon B. Johnson intended to assist the South Vietnamese in becoming strong enough to combat the North rather than having the US win the war for them. From 1965 through 1969, the US had little hope of winning because it put limits on the troops and prevented them from attacking Northern Vietnam. Not only were US forces limited, but the jungles of Vietnam proved to be a difficult environment to fight a war.
When Richard Nixon became president, the United States withdrew from the war. He began withdrawing troops from Vietnam in July 1969. In January 1973, a cease-fire was arranged. In March of the same year, the last US soldiers were evacuated from Vietnam. In April of 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam. The country was soon united as the Vietnamese Socialist Republic.