Hanoi, estimated population nearly 6.5 million (2009), is the capital and second-largest city of Vietnam. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Huế during the Nguyễn Dynasty as the capital of Vietnam, but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam History:
Hanoi has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC. One of the first known permanent settlements is the Co Loa citadel founded around 200 BC.
Hanoi has had many names throughout history, all of them of Sino-Vietnamese origin. During the Chinese domination of Vietnam, it was known as Tống Bình and later Long Đỗ. In 866, it was turned into a citadel and was named Đại La.
In 1010, Lý Thái Tổ, the first ruler of the Lý Dynasty, moved the capital of Đại to the site of the Đại La Citadel. Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed it Thăng Long (Ascending dragon) - a name still used poetically to this day. It remained the capital of Vietnam until 1397, when the capital was moved to Thanh Hóa, also known as Tây Đô (Western Capital). Thăng Long then became Đông Đô (Eastern Capital).
In 1408, Chinese Ming Dynasty attacked and occupied Vietnam, then they renamed Đông Đô as Đông Quan (Eastern Gateway). In 1428, Vietnamese overthrown the Chinese under the leadership of Lê Lợi who later founded the posterior Lê Dynasty and renamed Đông Quan as Đông Kinh (Eastern Capital - the name known to Europeans as Tonkin. The same characters are used for Tokyo, Japan). Right after the end of Tây Sơn Dynasty, it was named Bắc Thành (Northern Citadel).
In 1802, when the Nguyễn Dynasty was established and then moved the capital down to Huế, the name of Thăng Long ("ascending dragon") was modified to become different Thăng Long (昇隆, to ascend and flourish). In 1831 the Nguyễn emperor Minh Mạng renamed it "Hà Nội" (can be translated as Between Rivers or River Interior) . Hanoi was occupied by the French in 1873 and passed to them ten years later. It became the capital of French Indochina after 1887.
The city was occupied by the Japanese in 1940, and liberated in 1945, when it briefly became the seat of the Viet Minh government after Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam. But the French came back and reoccupied the city in 1946. After nine years of fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces, Hanoi became the capital of an independent North Vietnam in 1954 Climate:
Hanoi features a warm humid subtropical climate with plentiful precipitation. The city experiences the typical climate of northern Vietnam, where summers are hot and humid, and winters are, by national standards, relatively cool and dry. Summers, lasting from May to September, are hot and humid, receiving the majority of the annual 1,680 millimetres (66.1 in) of rainfall. The winters are short, relatively dry, and mild, while spring can bring light rains.
As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Hanoi is considered to be one of cultural centres of Vietnam, where most of Vietnamese dynasties had left behind their imprint. Even though some relics have not survived through wars and time, the city still has many interesting cultural and historic monuments for visitors and residents alike. Even when the nation's capital moved to Huế under the Nguyễn Dynasty in 1802, the city of Hanoi continued to flourish, especially after the French took control in 1888 and modeled the city's architecture to their tastes, lending an important aesthetic to the city's rich stylistic heritage. The city boasts more than 1,000 years of history, and that of the past few hundred years has been well preserved.
Hanoi hosts more cultural sites than any city in Vietnam, including over 600 pagodas and temples:
Public transport is limited to buses, which are extremely cheap, but slow, crowded and a challenge for non-Vietnamese speakers. There are plenty of taxis to be hired and this is the safest and easiest way to get across the city, but make sure the meter is switched on and change is given. Motorbike taxis are also a cheap and easy way to get around, but the driving can be nerve-wracking. Renting a car or a motorbike are also popular options; all cars come with a driver/guide, which is a good idea considering the chaotic nature of the streets. Visitors should be cautious about renting a self-drive motorbike, bearing in mind the primary cause of injury and death among foreigners in Vietnam is due to motorcycle accidents. Two-seater cyclos (cycle rickshaws) are plentiful and can be flagged down anywhere, but should be avoided at night. Fares should be negotiated beforehand and a map is useful, as many drivers don't speak English.
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