The Vietnam War began as a civil war between North and South Vietnam, with the South being opposed to communist rule. Most historians see the Vietnam War as a consequence of the Cold War and the fear of global communism.
Communists had established a foothold in Vietnam at the end of World War II. Japan overran the country during the war, but when they retreated, the people established their own government. The war was fought between South Vietnam and North Vietnam, with the North being supported by China, North Korea and the Soviet Union, and the South being supported by the United States, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines and New Zealand.
The Viet Cong, or National Liberation Front, were communist forces who employed guerrilla warfare against the anti-communist forces in the South. The North Vietnamese army were known as the People's Army of Vietnam.
The Vietnam War was long and costly, and in the United States, very unpopular. The war came to an end in 1973 when U.S. forces withdrew. Two years later, Vietnam was unified under Communist rule after all, despite the fact that more than 3 million people were killed during the conflict, including 58,000 Americans.