Who Discovered Vietnam: A Look into the Country’s Rich History

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Vietnam is a country located in Southeast Asia, known for its stunning natural beauty, delicious cuisine, and rich culture. However, many people may not know the history of how this country came to be. Understanding the key figures and events that led to the discovery of Vietnam can give us a deeper appreciation of the country’s unique identity. In this article, we will explore the early discoveries of Vietnam, the European discoveries, and the controversies surrounding who discovered the country.

Early Discoveries of Vietnam

Chinese Discovery

The first recorded discovery of Vietnam was by the Chinese in the 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty. They referred to the country as “Nanyue,” which means “southern Yue,” and established a protectorate over the region.

Indian Discovery

The Indian discovery of Vietnam came during the 1st century AD when Indian traders began to navigate the sea routes that linked the Indian Ocean to South China. They established trade relations with the Cham people living on the central coast of Vietnam, and over time, Indian influence spread to other parts of the country.

Greek Discovery

The Greek discovery of Vietnam is believed to have happened in the 3rd century BC when Alexander the Great’s empire expanded to India. It is said that Greek traders came to the region and established a trading post in what is now present-day Vietnam.

These early discoveries played a significant role in shaping Vietnam’s culture and history. The Chinese, Indian, and Greek influences can still be seen in various aspects of Vietnamese culture, from language to cuisine.

European Discoveries of Vietnam

Portuguese Discovery

The European discovery of Vietnam began with the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India in 1498. The Portuguese established a trading post in Macau, and from there, they began to explore the surrounding areas, including Vietnam. In 1516, the Portuguese arrived in Hoi An, a port city in central Vietnam, and established a trading relationship with the Vietnamese.

Dutch Discovery

The Dutch came to Vietnam in the early 17th century. They established trading posts in the country’s southern region, which was then called Cochinchina. The Dutch traded with the Vietnamese in various commodities, including silk, porcelain, and lacquerware.

The European discoveries of Vietnam brought significant changes to the country’s history, as they introduced new technology and ideas. The Portuguese and the Dutch also helped to spread Christianity to the Vietnamese people. However, the European presence in Vietnam was not always welcomed, and it led to conflicts with the Vietnamese rulers.

In the next sections, we will look at the Vietnamese discoveries of Vietnam and the controversies surrounding the discovery of the country.

European Discoveries of Vietnam (Continued)

French Discovery

The French arrived in Vietnam in the mid-19th century and established a protectorate over the country, which they called French Indochina. The French colonial period had a profound impact on Vietnam, from the country’s economy to its education system. The French introduced new infrastructure, including railways and roads, and also brought with them a new language and culture.

However, the French colonial period was marked by conflict and resistance from the Vietnamese people. From 1946 to 1954, the Vietnamese fought against the French in the First Indochina War, which eventually led to the country’s independence.

The European discoveries of Vietnam had a significant impact on the country’s history, from introducing new ideas and technology to conflicts with the Vietnamese rulers.

Vietnamese Discoveries of Vietnam

Ancient Vietnamese People

The ancient Vietnamese people, also known as the Lac Viet, were the first to discover Vietnam. They migrated from the north and settled in the Red River Delta around 2500 BC. The Lac Viet people developed a unique culture and language, which formed the basis of modern-day Vietnamese culture.

Over time, the Lac Viet people expanded their territory and established the first Vietnamese state, known as Van Lang. The many dynasties that followed contributed to the development of Vietnamese culture, from the Hung kings to the Ly, Tran, and Nguyen dynasties.

Modern Vietnamese Discoveries

Modern Vietnamese discoveries of Vietnam began in the late 19th century, during the French colonial period. Vietnamese scholars and intellectuals, influenced by Western ideas, began to reexamine their country’s history and culture. These discoveries led to a renewed sense of pride in Vietnamese culture and identity, which played a significant role in the country’s struggle for independence.

Today, Vietnam continues to discover and rediscover its history and culture, from ancient artifacts to modern art and literature. The country’s rich history and culture continue to inspire and fascinate people around the world.

In conclusion, the discovery of Vietnam is a complex and multifaceted history that has shaped the country’s culture and identity. From the early discoveries by the Chinese, Indians, and Greeks to the European discoveries by the Portuguese, Dutch, and French, Vietnam has been influenced by many different cultures over the years. However, the ancient Vietnamese people and modern Vietnamese discoveries have also played a significant role in shaping the country’s unique identity. As we continue to discover and rediscover Vietnam’s history, we gain a deeper appreciation for its rich culture and the people who have shaped it over the centuries.

Controversies Surrounding the Discovery of Vietnam

Despite the numerous discoveries of Vietnam, there is still controversy surrounding who discovered the country. Some argue that the Chinese were the first to discover Vietnam, while others believe it was the Indians or the Greeks. The controversy stems from the fact that there is no clear record of the first discovery of Vietnam.

Another issue surrounding the discovery of Vietnam is the political implications that come with it. The discovery of a country can have significant political consequences, as it can be used to claim territory or establish sovereignty. In Vietnam’s case, the question of who discovered the country has been used by different groups to support their political agenda.

For instance, during the 20th century, the Vietnamese government used the Chinese discovery of Vietnam as evidence of their historical ties to China. On the other hand, Vietnamese nationalists argued that the country’s history was distinct from China and that the Vietnamese had their own unique identity.

The controversy surrounding the discovery of Vietnam highlights the importance of understanding a country’s history and the complexities that come with it.


In conclusion, Vietnam’s history is a rich tapestry of different cultures, traditions, and discoveries. From the early discoveries of the Chinese, Indians, and Greeks to the European discoveries of the Portuguese and Dutch, Vietnam’s history is a testament to the country’s resilience and adaptability.

Understanding the different discoveries of Vietnam is essential to appreciating the country’s unique identity and culture. The controversy surrounding who discovered Vietnam also highlights the political implications that come with the discovery of a country.

As we continue to learn more about Vietnam’s history, it is crucial to remember that the country’s past has shaped its present and will continue to shape its future. At Xeno Saga, we aim to provide updated articles on various aspects of Vietnamese culture, including traditional customs, art, cuisine, tourism, people, and modern fashion. We believe that learning about Vietnam’s history and culture is key to appreciating the country’s beauty and diversity.

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