How Long Did The Vietnam War Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1954- 1975

The Vietnam War is also known as the Second Indochina War. The Second Indochina War was sprung from 1 November 1955 to 30 April 1975. The war commenced between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The war lasted almost 20 years( 19 years,5 months, 4 weeks, and 1 day) was known as the Cold war-era. Some also called it a proxy war. Many different countries came in to support North and South Vietnam.

Soviet Union, China, and some other communist allies supported North Vietnam whereas United States, South Korea, Philippines, Australia, Thailand, and other anti-communist allies supported South Vietnam. At last, after 20 years of fighting, the war ended in 1975 s a result of all the three countries becoming communist states in 1975.

How Long Did The Vietnam War Last


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How Long Did The Vietnam War Last?

On the eastern shore of the Indochinese Peninsula, there was a nation in Southeast Asia known as Vietnam. Vietnam had been under French colonial rule since the 19th century. When the second world war was going on, the Japanese forces overran Vietnam. The political leader Ho Chi Minh formed the Viet Minh or the League for the Independence of Vietnam.

The purpose of this was to fight off both Japanese occupiers and the French colonial administration. The Vietnam War began in 1954 due to the active U.S engagement in the conflict. Although the ongoing conflict in the region had expanded back several decades. Soon after the Ho’s communist forces came into power in the north, the conflict between both armies continued.

The conflict ended when the northern Viet Minh’s decisive victory was in May 1954. In 1955, the strong anti-communist political leader Ngo Dinh Diem impelled Emperor Bao to become president of the GVN ( government of the Republic of Vietnam) also known as South Vietnam at that time.The Indochina Cold War escalated the whole world.

The United States hardened its policies against any allies of the Soviet Union and pledged its firm support to Diem and South Vietnam. The Vietnamese Communist and other opponents of Diem’s in 1957 began fighting back with attacks on the government officials. By 1959, they had begun attacking the South Vietnamese army in firefights. Here is the timeline of the Indochina war between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

Insurgency in the South1954-1960
Kennedy’s Escalation1961-1963
Johnson’s Escalation1963-1969
Opposition to U.S Involvement1964-1973
Easter Offensive and Paris Peace Accords1972
U.S Exit and Final Campaigns1973-1975

Why Did The Vietnam War Last So Long?

At the end of 1972, Hanoi was finally eager to negotiate. Kissinger and North Vietnamese representatives outlined a peace agreement but the leaders in Saigon renounced it. Nixon did several bombing raids against targets in Hanoi and Haiphong. In January 1973, the United States and North Vietnam concluded a final peace agreement.

The United States troops returned to their home in 1973. The nation spent more than $120 billion on the war from 1965-1973. The extensive loss of spending led to extensive reflation. In 1973, the fuel prices were skyrocketing and the whole world faced an oil crisis. However, the war between North and South Vietnam continued till 30 April 1975.

More than two decades of violent conflict between the two had inflicted a disastrous toll on Vietnam’s population. More than 2 million Vietnamese were killed, 3 million were wounded and 12 million people became refugees. The conflict had obliterated the country’s infrastructure, economy badly.


The conflict between North Vietnam and South Vietnam ended. The 20 years long war finally came to an end in 1975. As a result, the North Vietnamese and Vietcong/PRG won the war after a long fight. In 1973, the U.S coalition’s forces withdrew from Vietnam. The outcome of the war gave rise to two new things. First the start of the crises of the boat people and refugees.

Another one was the commencement of the Third Indochina War and the Cambodian Genocide. The communist forces take power in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. It was also the year of the reunification of Vietnam. The territorial changes were made in 1976. The North and South Vietnam converted into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976.



Last Updated : 23 February, 2024

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