This video is part of a series of 14 animated maps.

View series: Decolonization after 1945

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Independence for Indochina

This map is part of a series of 14 animated maps showing the history of Decolonization after 1945.

French Indochina was made up of the protectorates of Cambodia and Laos in the west and of Vietnam in the east.

The Japanese occupation of Indochina during World War II offered the Communist Party, led by Ho Chi Minh, an opportunity to create a League for the Independence of Vietnam in opposition to Japan.

On 6 March 1946, the Republic of Vietnam became a free state and formed, together with the Kingdoms of Cambodia and Laos, an Indochina Federation as part of the French Union.

But this agreement could not be successfully enforced and a bombing attack on the port of Haiphong by the French Navy on 20 November 1946 marked the beginning of the French Indochina War.

This war, together with Mao Zedong’s victory in China and the outbreak of the Korean War, was one of several international power struggles during the Cold War. The United States, which had previously condemned this colonial war, was now ready to provide France with financial support.

After the death of Stalin, the Americans wanted to put an end to the various conflicts in Asia with a peace conference in Geneva during the summer of 1954. In the spring of that year, the French forces were surrounded at Dien Bien Phu and forced to surrender after 57 days of fighting.

In Geneva in July 1954, after 8 years of war, France recognized the independence of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Vietnam was initially divided into two parts while waiting for elections: north of the 17th parallel was the Communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam and to the south, was a pro-American Nationalist Republic.

Following a second war, led this time by the United States and known as the Vietnam War, victory by the Communist forces of the north ensured that the two parts were reunified into a single country in 1975.