Vietnamese civilisation is amongst the oldest in the world with archaeological evidence showing the area to have been populated for over half a million years. The prehistoric Đông Sơn culture flourished in the Red River Valley of Vietnam.Vietnam's dynastic era is said to have been established by the 3rd century BC and continued until 1945, when the emperor Bao Dai abdicated and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was established. From 1954 to 1975, Vietnam was divided into North and South Vietnam. Over its history, Vietnam has been influenced by Chinese culture with periods of Chinese political domination, which can be seen in many of its traditions.
Vietnam's period as a French protectorate (1887-1954) and its tumultuous twentieth century wars have resulted in literature by those whose lives were irrevocably changed, whether directly or indirectly. The country's conflict also led to the emigration of many writers to France, America, and Australia. Writers from this diaspora include Linda Le, who lives in France and whose works examine the sense of rupture felt by Vietnamese abroad. The works of Vietnamese-American Andrew Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala, also seek to convey the sense of being unrooted whilst straddling two cultures.The Boat by Vietnamese-Australian Nam Le, winner of the Dylan Thomas award, transcends national boundaries by weaving together a diverse cast of characters from across the world into seven short stories.
Films by Vietnamese directors include Tran Anh Hung's The Scent of Green Papaya, winner of a French César for Best Debut and the Caméra d'Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. Another acclaimed film,Three Seasons by Tony Bui follows the changing landscape of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon.Born in Saigon, writer and filmmaker Marguerite Duras brought her memories of Indochina to France, then to the world.The Lover is based on her award-winning novel L'amant.