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Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh
Region: South-East
Area: 2,095 km&sup2
Districts: 22 (17 urban and 5 rural)
Population: 5,387,100
Ethnicities: Viet, Hoa
Council Chairman: Huynh Dam
Committee Chairman: Le Thanh Hai

Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh) is the largest city in Vietnam and, as Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài G̣n), was the capital of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1976. It is situated on the western bank of the Saigon River .



Saigon began as a small fishing village. The area that the city now occupies was originally swampland, and was probably inhabited by Khmer peoples before the arrival of the Vietnamese.

Nguyen Phuc Chu , a Vietnamese noble, was sent to establish administrative structures in the area in 1698. He is often credited with the expansion of Saigon into a significant settlement. The city was also influenced by the French during their colonial occupation of Vietnam, and a number of prominent buildings in the city reflect this.

In 1954, the French were defeated by the Communist Viet Minh in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, and withdrew from Vietnam. Rather than recognise the Communists as the new government, however, they gave their backing to a government established by Emperor Bao Dai. Bao Dai had set up Saigon as his capital in 1950. When Vietnam was officially partitioned into North Vietnam (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) and South Vietnam (the Republic of Vietnam), the southern government, led by President Ngo Dinh Diem, retained Saigon as its capital.

At the conclusion of the Vietnam War in 1975, the city came under the control of the North Vietnamese Army and its allies. In the U.S. this event is commonly called the "Fall of Saigon," while in Vietnam it is called the "Liberation of Saigon."

In 1976, upon establishment of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the victorious Communists renamed the city after socialist Vietnam's founding father, Ho Chi Minh. The former name Saigon is still used by most Vietnamese, especially in informal contexts. Officially, the term Saigon refers only to District One of Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City is home to a well-established ethnic Chinese population. The Cholon district serves as its Chinatown.


City center of Ho Chi Minh City
City center of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is a municipality that exists at the same level as Vietnam's provinces. As such, it has a similar political structure to provinces, with a People's Council and a People's Committee being the principle administrative entities.

The municipality is divided into twenty-two districts. Five of these are designated as rural districts, covering the farmland around the city which is included in the municipality's official boundaries. These districts are named Nha Be, Can Gio, Hoc Mon, Cu Chi, and Binh Chanh. The remaining seventeen districts are found in the city itself. Only five of the urban districts have names (Tan Binh, Binh Thanh, Phu Nhuan, Thu Duc, and Go Vap) - the remainder are simply numbered from one to twelve.


The population of Ho Chi Minh City (as of 2003) is believed to be around 6 million, making it the most populous city in the country. It is also the most populous of Vietnam's province-level administrative units. Ethnically, the majority of the population is either Vietnamese (Kinh) or Hoa (overseas Chinese), although people from other Vietnamese minorities have also moved to the city.

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