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15 Facts about Ho Chi Minh City

Updated on April 9, 2014
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Ho Chi Minh City is the former capital of South Vietnam. It lies about 50 miles (80 km) from the South China Sea. It is adjacent to the city of Cholon, and the two are governed as a single metropolis. Formerly Saigon, after the Vietnam War, the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

1. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of 7.396 million (2010)

2. Ho Chi Minh City, which resembles a Western city, is the commercial center for the southern part of Vietnam. Cholon is Chinese in character and is more industrial.

3. Among the principal products of the metropolis are foodstuffs, soap, bicycles, cotton fabrics, rubber goods, frozen fish, textiles, glass, plastic, paper, and varnish. Food-processing establishments include fruit-packing plants, breweries, distilleries, and rice mills.

4. An economic renovation policy was initiated in 1986 basically to attract foreign investments.

5. The nearby delta of the Mekong River is one of the great rice-growing areas of Asia, and rice was Saigon's chief export until production was drastically reduced by the Vietnam War. Foreign trade was handled by a large number of export-import firms, owned and operated mostly by resident Chinese.

6. Metropolitan Ho Chi Minh City is connected with Da Nang and Hué in the north by a railroad along the coast and is joined by rail with My Tho and Loc Ninh to the south.

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7. Ho Chi Minh City is connected with most cities in the country by a network of highways. Linked by canals to the Mekong River and served by an extensive inland waterway system, the city is the largest port of southern Vietnam. Its extensive port facilities include shipyards and a naval base.

8. Tan Son Nhat airport in suburban Ho Chi Minh City is a busy international terminal and a major military air base. The airport is served by Air Vietnam and is connected to other cities in Vietnam.

9. The former University of Saigon, founded in 1917 as the Université Indochinoise, is Vietnam's oldest university. It is now named the University of Ho Chi Minh City. Thang Long College (1989) is a private college.

Cholon Market in Ho Chi Minh City
Cholon Market in Ho Chi Minh City | Source

10. Saigon originated as a Khmer settlement. During the 17th century it became part of the kingdom of Vietnam. The city was within the territory that became the French colony of Cochin China in the 1860s.

11. During World War II Saigon was occupied by the Japanese, who used it is a base for operations in other parts of Southeast Asia. When Vietnam was divided into two states in 1954, Saigon was made the capital of South Vietnam.

12. The city, which has wide, tree-lined boulevards and many public parks, underwent numerous physical and socioeconomic changes as a result of the Vietnam War.

13. The city was occupied peacefully by Communist forces on April 30, 1975, and was given its present name of Ho Chi Minh City. Much of the population, which had been swollen by a vast influx of refugees, was resettled in the countryside.

14. After 1975 there was a great deal of emphasis put on self-sufficiency in the city's economic reform. Local handicraft cooperatives were given the responsibility of producing and exporting locally made works of art, furniture, and woven objects.

15. Almost all bars and fast-food places that used to cater to the Westerners, are closed now. The old Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City has been converted to the National Theater.

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