A chronology of key events:
1858 - French colonial rule begins.
Images of Ho Chi Minh abound
- Born 1890
- Founded Indochina Communist Party 1930
- President of North Vietnam 1945-69
1930 - Ho Chi Minh founds the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP).
1941 - ICP organises a guerrilla force, Viet Minh, in response to invasion by Japan during World War II.
1945 - The Viet Minh seizes power. Ho Chi Minh announces Vietnam's independence.
1946 - French forces attack Viet Minh in Haiphong in November, sparking the war of resistance against the colonial power.
1950 - Democratic Republic of Vietnam is recognised by China and USSR.
1954 - Viet Minh forces attack an isolated French military outpost in the town of Dien Bien Phu. The attempt to take the outpost lasts two months, during which time the French government agrees to peace talks in Geneva.
Vietnam is split into North and South at Geneva conference.
1956 - South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem begins campaign against political dissidents.
- US, South Vietnam failed to stop communist-led unification
- War, known as "American War" in Vietnam, claimed millions of lives 1955-1975
- 58,000 Americans died
1957 - Beginning of Communist insurgency in the South.
1959 - Weapons and men from North Vietnam begin infiltrating the South.
1960 - American aid to Diem increased.
1962 - Number of US military advisors in South Vietnam rises to 12,000.
1963 - Viet Cong, the communist guerrillas operating in South Vietnam, defeat units of the ARVN, the South Vietnamese Army.
President Diem is overthrown and then killed in a US-backed military coup.US enters the war
1964 - Gulf of Tonkin incident: the US says North Vietnamese patrol boats fire on two US Navy destroyers. US Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorising military action in region.
1965 - 200,000 American combat troops arrive in South Vietnam.
1966 - US troop numbers in Vietnam rise to 400,000, then to 500,000 the following year.
1968 - Tet Offensive - a combined assault by Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army on US positions - begins. More than 500 civilians die in the US massacre at My Lai. Thousands are killed by communist forces during their occupation of the city of Hue.
1969 - Ho Chi Minh dies. President Nixon begins to reduce US ground troops in Vietnam as domestic public opposition to the war grows.
1970 - Nixon's national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, and Le Duc Tho, for the Hanoi government, start talks in Paris.
1973 - Ceasefire agreement in Paris, US troop pull-out completed by March.
Thousands of Vietnamese ''boat people'' fled abroad in overcrowded vessels
1975 - North Vietnamese troops invade South Vietnam and take control of the whole country after South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh surrenders.Reconstruction
1976 - Socialist Republic of Vietnam proclaimed. Saigon is re-named Ho Chi Minh City. Hundreds of thousands flee abroad, including many "boat people".
1979 - Vietnam invades Cambodia and ousts the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot. In response, Chinese troops cross Vietnam's northern border. They are pushed back by Vietnamese forces. The number of "boat people" trying to leave Vietnam causes international concern.
1986 - Nguyen Van Linh becomes party leader. He introduces a more liberal economic policy.
1989 - Vietnamese troops withdraw from Cambodia.
1992 - New constitution adopted allowing certain economic freedoms. The Communist Party remains the leading force in Vietnamese society.Reconciliation
1994 - US lifts its 30-year trade embargo.
1995 - Vietnam and US restore full diplomatic relations. Vietnam becomes full member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
- Herbicide used by US forces to clear vegetation, depriving enemy of cover
- Name derives from orange markings on the drums containing the chemical
- Children born in areas sprayed have disproportionate rate of mental and physical problems
1997 - Le Kha Phieu becomes party leader. Tran Duc Luong chosen as president, Phan Van Khai becomes prime minister.
1998 - A senior party member, Pham The Duyet, faces charges of corruption. Economic growth slumps in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
1999 - A former high-ranking party member, Tran Do, is expelled after calling for more democracy and freedom of expression.
2000 - US President Bill Clinton pays a three-day official visit. The US pledges more help to clear landmines left over from the Vietnam war. The Vietnamese government estimates nearly 40,000 people have been killed by unexploded munitions.
2001 - The Communist Party chooses Nong Duc Manh as its new leader. US, Vietnam implement a trade agreement which normalises the trade status between them.
2002 - Russia hands back the Cam Ranh Bay naval base, once the largest Soviet base outside the Warsaw Pact. President Tran Duc Luong reappointed for second term by National Assembly, which also reappoints Prime Minister Phan Van Khai for second five-year term.
2004 - First US commercial flight since the end of the Vietnam War touches down in Ho Chi Minh City.
Hanoi: Ancient capital
Hanoi is a mix of old and new
2005 - Prime Minister Phan Van Khai makes the first visit to the US by a Vietnamese leader since the end of the Vietnam War.
2006 January onwards - Senior officials are investigated over the alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars of state money in the transport ministry.
2006 June - As part of an anticipated political shake-up, the prime minister, president and National Assembly chairman are replaced by younger leaders.WTO membership
2007 January - After 12 years of talks, Vietnam becomes the 150th member of the World Trade Organization.
2007 February - Government approves a $33bn plan to build a high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in the south.
2007 February - US agrees for the first time to help fund a study into the removal of Agent Orange, the highly toxic defoliant used by US forces, from a former US base in Da Nang.
2007 June - President Nguyen Minh Triet makes first visit to the US by a Vietnamese head of state since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
2007 July - Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reappointed, promises to push through economic reforms.
2008 April - Vietnam launches first communications satellite from French Guiana.Media clampdown
2008 October - US and international media campaigners condemn the guilty verdicts on two Vietnamese journalists Nguyen Viet Chien and Nguyen Van Hai, who had helped to expose a major corruption scandal. Nguyen Van Hai pleads guilty and is spared imprisonment.
2008 November - Vietnam says it plans to enforce a two-child policy in an attempt to control population growth.
2008 December - China and Vietnam resolve border dispute 30 years after 1979 war which left tens of thousands dead.
Government bans bloggers from raising "inappropriate" subjects.
2009 January - Jailed journalist Nguyen Viet Chien is among more than 15,000 prisoners freed early under a Lunar New Year amnesty - one of Vietnam's largest.
Government dismisses Nguyen Cong Khe and Le Hoang, the editors of the two largest pro-reform newspapers, over their coverage of the October corruption scandal trial.
2009 June - Vietnam calls on China to stop preventing Vietnamese fishermen from working in what Hanoi says are its territorial waters amid growing tensions over fishing grounds.
2009 October - Six democracy activists sentenced to up to six years in prison for "spreading propaganda" against the government by hanging pro-democracy banners on a road bridge.
Rival claims to ocean areas and islands in the South China Sea have caused much regional tension
2009 December - Pro-democracy activist Tran Anh Kim receives five-and-a-half-year jail sentence for subversion after allegedly publishing pro-democracy articles on internet.
2010 January - Four activists, including prominent human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, are jailed on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Rights groups abroad say the case is a sign of an growing clampdown on freedom of expression.
2010 May - Human Rights Watch accuses Vietnam of intensifying its suppression of online dissent.
2010 July/August - The government arrests the chairman of shipbuilding corporation Vinashin, one of the country's largest state-owned companies, for allegedly nearly bankrupting the enterprise.
2011 January - Five-yearly congress of the Communist Party reappoints Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and elects the head of the national assembly, Nguyen Phu Trong, as party secretary-general.
2011 June - Vietnam begins joint operation with the United States to clean up contamination from the toxic Agent Orange defoliant widely used by the US military during the Vietnam war.
2011 October - China and Vietnam sign an agreement to manage the South China Sea dispute. It includes a hotline to deal with emergencies and a provision for twice-yearly bilateral meetings.
2012 June: Vietnam surpasses Brazil to become the world's largest coffee exporter.
2012 October: Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong acknowledges mistakes in preventing corruption in response to public anger over a recent spate of scandals at state-owned enterprises.
2012 November: The communist-dominated parliament votes to require elected leaders, including the president and the prime minister, to face annual confidence votes. Observers say the votes may be little more than symbolic.
2013 February - Twenty two people sentenced for trying to overthrow the government, in what is seen as a renewed clampdown on freedom of expression.
2013 August - New decree bans internet users from discussing current affairs online.