Regional Geography 105

South East Asia - Physiography

Peninsulas and islands – fragmented realm
Volcanic eruptions
Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines, June 15, 1991
Krakatoa, 1883

South East Asia - Climate

Humid tropical climates
Monsoon season


Southeast Asia named by the French
- India to the west
- China to the north
Buffer Zone - a region separating ideological or political adversaries
Shatter Belt - region caught between stronger, colliding external cultural - political forces.

Colonial Influences

Same colonial powers found in Africa
Thailand (Siam) was never colonized


Independent state prior to 1883.
Ruled by a variety of groups and also controlled for long periods by China.
French Roman Catholic missionaries began arriving in Vietnam in the 1600's.
1600 - 1800's Vietnamese rulers persecuted the missionaries.

French Control in Vietnam

Aug. 1858, French forces attack and control Da Nang in central Vietnam.
Aug. 1883, French protectorate granted over all of Vietnam (Cochinchina was already a colony) (1887 – Cambodia; 1893 – Laos)

WWII - Japanese Control in Vietnam

Germany defeats France in WWII.
Japan invaded French Indochina - 1940.
Japan initially let French officials remain
March, 1945 they arrested all of them, executed some.
August 15, 1945 - Japan surrenders
- leaves no group in power in Vietnam

Indochina War

Ho Chi Minh and the Vietminh gained control of northern parts of Vietnam.
Declared Vietnam independent - Democratic Republic of Vietnam. 2 Sept. 1945
France quickly reestablished control of the southern parts of Vietnam.
Tension between French and Vietminh.
Vietminh attack French on Dec. 19, 1946.
French formed the State of Vietnam in 1949.
Fighting continued between Vietminh and Vietnamese nationalist.
April, 1954 - Democratic Republic of Vietnam, State of Vietnam , Cambodia, Laos, China, France, UK, USSR and U.S. met in Geneva to determine the fate of Vietnam.

North and South Vietnam

Fighting in Vietnam continues during Geneva Conference.
May 1954 Vietminh defeated the French in Vietnam in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.
Geneva Conference
- divide Vietnam into two parts, North and South.
- called for elections in 1956 to unite the country under one government.
1955 President Diem, South Vietnam, refuses to hold elections, claiming that fair election were not possible.
President Diem uses U.S. backing to create an authoritarian regime and suppresses all opposition.

Vietnam War – Civil War

1957 – Viet Cong (South Vietnamese communists) rebel against government
"beginning" of the Vietnam War
1959 – North Vietnam supports Viet Cong and begins supplying arms.
1960 – Viet Cong forms the National Liberation Front
War begins to grow in scale

U.S. Involvement in Vietnam

1950 - President Truman sends 35 military advisors - part of a policy that declared that the U.S. must help any country threatened by Communism.
1954-1961 - President Eisenhower increases number to 2000 advisors
1961-1963 - President Kennedy increases the number to 15,000 advisors

Gulf of Tonkin

Aug. 2, 1964 North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the U.S. destroyer, Maddox, in the Gulf of Tonkin
After a second, unconfirmed attack on the U.S. destroyer C. Turner Joy…
President Johnson ordered air strikes against North Vietnam.
Aug. 7, 1964 - Congress approved use of “all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the U.S. and to prevent further aggression”
This marks the official start of “active” U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War

U.S. Withdrawal from Vietnam

U.S. troops began withdrawal in 1969 as part of a program to reduce U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
March-August 1972, North Vietnam launched a major offensive.
Resulted in peace negotiations.
Jan. 27, 1973 - cease-fire agreement signed in Paris.

Cease-fire agreement

- signed by U.S., South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the Viet Cong.
- called for withdrawal of all U.S. and allied troops within 60 days.
- called for internationally supervised elections.
Last U.S. troops left on March 29, 1973.

Vietnam War Continues

Peace talks broke down and the war resumed - after withdrawal of U.S. troops
April 30, 1975 - South Vietnam surrenders - "Fall of Saigon"
U.S. Embassy evacuated
Saigon renamed Ho Chi Minh City

War Casualties and Cost

1.3 million South Vietnamese killed
0.5-1 million North Vietnamese killed
58, 000 Americans killed
300,000 wounded
U.S. total cost - 150 billion dollars

Spreading Conflict

1970 - U.S. Troops enter Cambodia and Laos to clear out North Vietnamese military supply centers
“Ho Chi Minh Trail” – supply line from North Vietnam to the Viet Cong by way of Laos and Cambodia
The conflict in Vietnam had expanded to Laos and Cambodia

Domino Theory

The Domino Theory states that destabilization from any cause in one state can result in the collapse of order in neighboring states
This can lead to collapse in additional neighboring states, and so on.