The struggle for control of Vietnam, which had been a French colony since 1887, lasted for three decades. Both the United States and the Soviet Union regarded the conflict not as a civil war between North and South Vietnam but as a significant engagement of the Cold War in a strategic region. U.S. leaders endorsed the domino theory, which held that if South Vietnam fell to the Communists, other nations in the region, such as Laos and Cambodia, would also fall. The fight between the United States and South Vietnam on one hand and North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front, strongly backed by the Soviet Union and mainland China, on the other, ended with the victory of the North Vietnamese in 1975.
The timeline below outlines major events of the Vietnam War, including contributions from High Pointers and photographs and war information from trusted historical sources