State of Vietnam

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State of Vietnam
Quốc gia Việt Nam
État du Viêt-Nam
Autonomous state in the French Union


Flag Coat of Arms
"Thanh niên Hành Khúc"
(English: "The March of Youths")
Although, the State of Vietnam claimed authority over all of Vietnam, its rule was never effective in the North. In 1954, the country was partitioned at the 17th parallel.
Capital Saigon
Languages Vietnamese
Government Associated state with the French Union, Provisional government 1949-55
Head of state
 -  1949-55 Bảo Đại
Prime minister
 -  1954-55 Ngô Đình Diệm
Historical era Cold War
 -  Associated state June 14, 1949
 -  Internationally recognized 1950
 -  Disestablished October 26, 1955
 -  1955 173,809 km² (67,108 sq mi)
 -  1955 est. 12,000,000 
     Density 69 /km²  (178.8 /sq mi)
Currency piastre

The State of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Quốc gia Việt Nam) was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and replaced the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam (1948–1949). The provisional government was a brief transitional administration between colonial Cochinchina and an independent state. The state was created in 1949 and was internationally recognized in 1950, although its main power was mainly in the south, whereas the Democratic Republic of Vietnam mainly dominated in the north. Former emperor Bảo Đại was chief of state (Quốc Trưởng). Ngô Đình Diệm was appointed prime minister in 1954, and after ousting Bảo Đại the following year, became president of the Republic of Vietnam.


Unification of Vietnam (1947–1948)[edit]

By February 1947, following the pacification of Tonkin (North Vietnam), the Tonkinese capital, Hanoi, and the main traffic axis returned under French control. The derouted Việt Minh partisans were forced to retreat into the jungle and prepared to pursue the war using guerrilla warfare.

In order to reduce Việt Minh leader Hồ Chí Minh's influence over the Vietnamese population, the French authorities in Indochina supported the return to power of the emperor (last ruler of the Nguyễn Dynasty), Bảo Đại. The latter had been forced to abdicate by the Việt Minh back on August 25, 1945, after the fall of the short-lived Empire of Vietnam, puppet state of the Empire of Japan.

On June 5, 1948, the Halong Bay Agreements (Accords de la baie d’Along) allowed the creation of a unified State of Vietnam replacing the Tonkin (North Vietnam), Annam (Middle Vietnam) and the Republic of Cochinchina (South Vietnam) associated to France within the French Union then including the neighboring Kingdom of Laos and Kingdom of Cambodia.

Since the Halong Bay Agreements resulted in many aspects—excluding the referendum—in the enforcement of the March 6, 1946, Indochinese Independence Convention signed by Communist Hồ Chí Minh’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam and High Commissioner of France in Indochina Admiral Thierry d'Argenlieu, representative of Felix Gouin's Provisional French Republic led by the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO), some regarded the State of Vietnam as a puppet state of the French Fourth Republic.

French Union (1949–1954)[edit]

Main article: First Indochina War

From 1949 to 1954, following the June 14, 1949, declaration of independence, the State of Vietnam had partial autonomy from France as an associated state within the French Union.

Bảo Đại fought against communist leader Hồ Chí Minh for legitimacy as the legitimate government of the entire Vietnam through the struggle between the Vietnamese National Army and the Việt Minh during the First Indochina War.

The State of Vietnam found support in the French Fourth Republic and the United States (1950–1954) while Hồ Chí Minh was backed by the People's Republic of China (since 1950), and to a lesser extent by the Soviet Union.

Partition (1954–1955)[edit]

Further information: Geneva Conference and Partition of Vietnam
Roman Catholic Vietnamese taking refuge in a French LST in 1954.

After the Geneva Conference of 1954, as well as becoming fully independent with its departure from the French Union, the State of Vietnam became territorially confined to those lands of Vietnam south of the 17th parallel, and as such became commonly known as South Vietnam.

The massive migration of anti-Communist north Vietnamese, essentially Roman Catholic people, proceeded during the French-American Operation Passage to Freedom in summer 1954.


Provisional Central Government of Vietnam (1948–1949)[edit]

On May 27, 1948, Nguyễn Văn Xuân, then President of the Republic of Cochin China, became President of the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam (Thủ tướng lâm thời) following the merging of the government of Cochin China and Vietnam in what is sometimes referred as "Pre-Vietnam".

State of Vietnam (1949–1955)[edit]

On June 14, 1949, Bảo Đại was appointed Chief of State (Quoc Truong) of the State of Vietnam; he was concurrently Prime Minister for a short while (Kiêm nhiệm Thủ tướng).

On October 26, 1955, the Republic of Vietnam was established and Ngô Đình Diệm became the first President of the Republic.

Leaders (1948–1955)[edit]

Further information: Leaders of South Vietnam
Name Took office Left office Title
Nguyễn Văn Xuân May 27, 1948 July 14, 1949 President of the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam
1 Bảo Đại July 14, 1949 January 21, 1950 Prime Minister; remained Chief of State throughout the State of Vietnam
2 Nguyễn Phan Long January 21, 1950 April 27, 1950 Prime Minister
3 Trần Văn Hữu May 6, 1950 June 3, 1952 Prime Minister
4 Nguyễn Văn Tâm June 23, 1952 December 7, 1953 Prime Minister
5 Bửu Lộc January 11, 1954 June 16, 1954 Prime Minister
6 Ngô Đình Diệm June 16, 1954 October 26, 1955 Prime Minister

1955 referendum, Republic of Vietnam[edit]

The State of Vietnam referendum of 1955 determined the future regime of the country.

Following the referendum's results the State of Vietnam ceased to exist on October 26, 1955, and was replaced by the Republic of Vietnam—widely known as South Vietnam—whose reformed army, under American "protection", pursued the struggle against communism; the Việt Cộng replaced the Viet Minh, in the Vietnam War.


Vietnamese National Army (1949–1955)[edit]

Following the signing of the 1949 Elysee Accords in Paris, Bảo Đại was able to create a National Army for defense purpose.

It fought under the State of Vietnam's banner and leadership and was commanded by General Nguyen Van Hinh.



A 100 piastres sample note of 1954.

The currency used within the French Union was the French Indochinese piastre. Notes were issued and managed by the "Issue Institute of the States of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam" (Institut d’Emission des Etats du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viêt-Nam).

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Provisional Central Government of Vietnam
State of Vietnam
1949 - 1955
Succeeded by
Republic of Vietnam