Vietnam was part of Imperial China for over a millennium, from 111 BC to AD 939. The Vietnamese became independent in 939, following the Vietnamese victory in the Battle of Bạch Đằng River. Successive Vietnamese royal dynasties flourished as the nation expanded geographically and politically into Southeast Asia, until the Indochina Peninsula was colonized by the French in the mid–19th century. Following a Japanese occupation in the 1940s, the Vietnamese fought French rule in the First Indochina War, eventually expelling the French in 1954. Thereafter, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North and South Vietnam, until the reunification in 1976.
Vietnam has become a major tourist destination since the 1990s, assisted by significant state and private investment, particularly in coastal regions. Popular tourist destinations include the former imperial capital of Hué, the World Heritage Sites of Phong Nha–Kẻ Bàng National Park, Hội An and Mỹ Sơn, coastal regions such as Nha Trang, the caves of Hạ Long Bay and the Marble Mountains. Numerous tourist projects are under construction, such as the Bình Dương tourist complex, which possesses the largest artificial sea in Southeast Asia.