The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and known in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply The American War, was a war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.
It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and the government of South Vietnam.
The North Vietnamese army was supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies and the South Vietnamese army was supported by the United States, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is therefore considered a Cold War-era proxy war.
The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region, while the People's Army of Vietnam, also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), engaged in more conventional warfare, at times committing large units to battle.
American involvement in the war peaked in 1968, the same year that the communist side launched the Tet Offensive. The Tet Offensive failed in its goal of overthrowing the South Vietnamese government, but became the turning point in the war, as it persuaded a large segment of the U.S. population that its government's claims of progress toward winning the war were illusory despite many years of massive U.S. military aid to South Vietnam.
Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973.
The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese Army in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year under a communist government.
Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3.8 million. Some 240,000–300,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict, and a further 1,626 remain missing in action.