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20th-century conflicts in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The first conflict (1946–54; often called the French Indochina War) involved France, which had ruled Vietnam as its colony (French Indochina), and the newly independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh; the war ended in Vietnamese victory in 1954. Vietnam was then divided into the communist-dominated north and the U.S.-supported south; war soon broke out between the two. North Vietnam won the war (the Vietnam War) despite heavy U.S. involvement, and the country was reunited in 1976. Cambodia experienced its own civil war between communists and noncommunists during that period, which was won by the communist Khmer Rouge in 1975. After several years of horrifying atrocities under Pol Pot, the Vietnamese invaded in 1979 and installed a puppet government. Fighting between the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese continued throughout the 1980s; Vietnam withdrew its troops by 1989. In 1993 UN-mediated elections established an interim government, and Cambodia's monarchy was reestablished. In Laos, North Vietnam's victory over South Vietnam brought the communist Pathet Lao into complete control in Laos.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Indochina wars, visit Britannica.com.
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