State of Vietnam

State of Vietnam
État du Viêt-Nam
Quốc gia Việt Nam
Associated state of the French Union;
constituent territory of French Indochina until 1954
Flag Coat of arms
"Thanh niên Hành Khúc"
(English: "The March of Youths")
Capital Saigon
Languages Vietnamese, French
Religion Roman Catholicism
Government Provisional government
Chief of State
   1949–1955 Bảo Đại
Prime minister
  1954–1955 Ngô Đình Diệm
Historical era Cold War
   Proclamation July 2, 1949
  Internationally recognized 1950
   1955 referendum 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
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Provisional Central Government of Vietnam
South Vietnam
North Vietnam

The State of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Quốc gia Việt Nam; French: État du Viêt-Nam) was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War although part of its territory was actually controlled by the communist Viet Minh. The state was created in 1949 and was internationally recognized in 1950. Former emperor Bảo Đại was chief of state (Quốc Trưởng). After the 1954 Geneva Agreements, the State of Vietnam had to abandon the Northern part of the country to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Ngô Đình Diệm was appointed prime minister that same year, and after ousting Bảo Đại in 1955, became president of the Republic of Vietnam.


Unification of Vietnam (1947–48)

Since the August Revolution, Viet Minh had seized all of territories of Vietnam. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was established by Viet Minh on September 2, 1945 and the DRV had controlled all of territories of Vietnam.

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 by establishing puppet states, including the State of Vietnam. Bao Dai had voluntarily abdicated[1] on August 25, 1945, after the fall of the short-lived Empire of Vietnam, a 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 Vietnamese government replacing the Tonkin (North Vietnam), Annam (Middle Vietnam) associated to France within the French Union and the Indochinese Federation then including the neighboring Kingdom of Laos and Kingdom of Cambodia. Cochinchina (South Vietnam), however, had a different status, both as a colony and as an "autonomous Republic", and its reunification with the rest of Vietnam had to be approved by its local assembly, and then by the French National Assembly. During the transitional period, a Provisional Central Government of Vietnam was proclaimed : Nguyễn Văn Xuân, until then head of the Provisional Government of South Vietnam (as Cochinchina was known since 1947) became its president, while Bảo Đại waited for a complete reunification to take office.

However, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam had declared the independence of Vietnam and had control almost Vietnam's territory since September 2, 1945.[2] Besides that, the DRV had also hosted the 1946 Vietnamese National Assembly election with the participation of 89% voter in Vietnam (North and South). The Democratic Republic of Vietnam, had officially become the constitutional representatives of Vietnam in 1946.

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 Félix 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 (1949–54)

Main article: First Indochina War

On May 20, 1949, the French National Assembly approved the reunification of Cochinchina with the rest of Vietnam. On decision took effect on June 14 and the State of Vietnam was officially proclaimed on July 2. From 1949 to 1954, reunification with Cochinchina, 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. Despite French support, roughly 60% of Vietnamese territory was under Việt Minh control in 1952.[3]

Partition (1954–55)

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 Republic of Vietnam.

The massive voluntary 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 (1948–49)

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 (1949–55)

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 (1948–55)

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

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 (1949–55)

Following the signing of the 1949 Élysée 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 Nguyễn Văn 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


  1. "Lễ thoái vị của Hoàng đế Bảo Đại qua lời kể của nhà thơ Huy Cận". VnExpress. Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  2. "Vietnam independence proclaimed - Sep 02, 1945". Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  3. Pierre Montagnon, L'Indochine française, Tallandier, 2016, p. 325
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