Hanoi (Vietnamese: Hà Nội, About this sound listen), is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts,6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Huế during the Nguyen dynasty as the capital of Vietnam, but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam.
The city is located on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is located at 1,760 km (1,090 mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City.
October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city. On this occasion, Hanoi was named by Frommer's travel guide as one of the world's "Top Destinations 2010".
Hanoi has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC. One of the first known permanent settlements is the Co Loa citadel (Cổ Loa) founded around 200 BC.
Hanoi has had many names throughout history, all of them of Sino-Vietnamese origin. During the Chinese domination of Vietnam, it was known first as Long Biên, then Tống Bình (Chinese: 宋平, Sòngpíng, "Song Peace") and Long Đỗ (Chinese: 龍肚, Lóngdù, "Dragonbelly"). In 866, it was turned into a citadel and named Đại La (Chinese: 大羅, Dàluó, "Big Net").
In 1010, Ly Thai To, the first ruler of the Lý Dynasty, moved the capital of Đại Việt to the site of the Đại La Citadel. Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed the site Thăng Long (昇龍, "Rising Dragon") - a name still used poetically to this day. Thăng Long remained the capital of Đại Việt until 1397, when it was moved to Thanh Hóa, then known as Tây Đô (西都), the "Western Capital". Thăng Long then became Đông Đô (東都), the "Eastern Capital."
In 1408, the Chinese Ming Dynasty attacked and occupied Vietnam, changing Đông Đô's name to "Eastern Gateway" (Chinese: 東關, Dōngguān), Đông Quan in Vietnamese. In 1428, the Vietnamese overthrew the Chinese under the leadership of Lê Lợi, who later founded the Lê Dynasty and renamed Đông Quan Đông Kinh (東京, "Eastern Capital") or Tonkin. Right after the end of the Tây Sơn Dynasty, it was named Bắc Thành (北城, "Northern Citadel").
In 1802, when the Nguyễn Dynasty was established and moved the capital to Huế, the old name Thăng Long was modified to become Thăng Long (昇隆, "Ascending & Flourishing"). In 1831, the Nguyễn emperor Minh Mạng renamed it Hà Nội (河内, "Between Rivers" or "River Interior"). Hanoi was occupied by the French in 1873 and passed to them ten years later. As Hanoï, it became the capital of French Indochina after 1887.
The city was occupied by the Japanese in 1940 and liberated in 1945, when it briefly became the seat of the Viet Minh government after Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam. However, the French returned and reoccupied the city in 1946. After nine years of fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces, Hanoi became the capital of an independent North Vietnam in 1954.
During the Vietnam War, Hanoi's transportation facilities were disrupted by the bombing of bridges and railways. These were all, however, promptly repaired. Following the end of the war, Hanoi became the capital of a reunified Vietnam when North and South Vietnam were reunited on July 2, 1976.
On May 29, 2008, it was decided that Ha Tay Province, Vĩnh Phúc's Mê Linh district and 4 communes of Lương Sơn District, Hoa Binh be merged into the metropolitan area of Hanoi from August 1, 2008. Hanoi's total area then increased to 334,470 hectares in 29 subdivisions with the new population being 6,232,940., effectively tripling its size. The Hanoi Capital Region (Vùng Thủ đô Hà Nội), a metropolitan area covering Hanoi and 6 surrounding provinces under its administration, will have an area of 13,436 square kilometers with a population of 15 million by 2020.
Hanoi, as the capital of French Indochina, was home to the first Western-style universities in Indochina, including: Indochina Medical College (1902) - now Hanoi Medical University, Indochina University (1904) - now Hanoi National University, and École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de L'Indochine (1925) - now Hanoi University of Fine Art.
After the Communist Party took control over Hanoi in 1954 with support from the Soviet Union, many new universities were built, among them, Hanoi University of Technology remains the largest technical university in Vietnam.
Hanoi is the largest centre of education in Vietnam. It is estimated that 62% of the scientists in the whole country are living and working in Hanoi.Admissions to undergraduate study are through entrance examinations, which are conducted annually and open for everyone (who has successfully completed his/her secondary education) in the country. The majority of universities in Hanoi are public, although in recent years a number of private universities have started their operation. Thăng Long University, founded in 1988, by some Vietnamese mathematics professors in Hanoi and France is the first private university in Vietnam.
Because many of Vietnam's major universities are located in Hanoi, students from other provinces (especially in the northern part of the country) wishing to enter university often travel to Hanoi for the annual entrance examination. Such events often take place in June and July, during which a large number of students and their families converge on the city for several weeks around this intense examination period. In recent years, these entrance exams have been centrally coordinated by the Ministry of Education, but passing marks are decided independently by each university.
Although there are state owned kindergartens, there are also many private ventures that serve both local and international needs. Pre-tertiary (elementary and secondary) schools in Hanoi are generally state run although there are some independent schools. Education is equivalent to the K–12 system in the US, with elementary school between grades 1 and 5, middle school (or junior high) between grades 6 and 9, and high school from grades 10 to 12.
As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Hanoi is considered one of the main cultural centres of Vietnam, where most Vietnamese dynasties have left their imprint. Even though some relics have not survived through wars and time, the city still has many interesting cultural and historic monuments for visitors and residents alike. Even when the nation's capital moved to Huế under the Nguyễn Dynasty in 1802, the city of Hanoi continued to flourish, especially after the French took control in 1888 and modeled the city's architecture to their tastes, lending an important aesthetic to the city's rich stylistic heritage. The city hosts more cultural sites than any city in Vietnam,and boasts more than 1,000 years of history, and that of the past few hundred years has been well preserved.
The Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem lake, has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specialized in a particular trade, such as silk traders, jewellery, etc. The street names nowadays still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. The area is famous for its small artisans and merchants, including many silk shops. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs and bars can be found here also. A night market (near Đồng Xuân market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.
Some others prominent places are: The Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu), site of the oldest university in Vietnam 1010; One Pillar Pagoda (Chùa Một Cột); Flag Tower of Hanoi (Cột cờ Hà Nội). In 2004, a massive part of the 900 year old Hanoi Citadel was discovered in central Hanoi, near the site of Ba Dinh Square.
A city between the rivers, built from lowland, Hanoi has many scenic lakes and it is sometimes called "city of lakes". Among its lakes, the most famous are Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, Halais Lake (Hồ Thiền Quang in Vietnamese), and Bay Mau Lake. Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is the historical and cultural center of Hanoi, and is linked to the legend of the magic sword. West Lake (Hồ Tây) is a popular place for people to spend time. It is the largest lake in Hanoi and there are many temples in the area. There are small boats for hire and a floating restaurant.
Hanoi's population is constantly growing (about 3.5% per year), a reflection of the fact that the city is both a major metropolitan area of Northern Vietnam, and also the country's political centre. This population growth also puts a lot of pressure onto the infrastructure, some of which is antiquated and dates back from the early 20th century.
The number of Hanoians who settled down for more than three generations is likely to be very small as compared to the overall population of the city. Even in the Old Quarter, where commerce started hundreds years ago and was mostly a family business, many of the street-front stores nowadays are owned by merchants and retailers from other provinces. The original owner family may have either rented out the store and moved to live further inside the house, or just moved out of the neighbourhood altogether. The pace of change has especially escalated after the abandonment of central-planning economic policies, and relaxing of the district-based household registrar system.
Hanoi's telephone numbers have been increased to 8 digits to cope with demand (October 2008). Subscribers telephone numbers have been changed in a haphazard way.