The city is located on the west bank of the Red River, in the middle of the fertile river delta.
In 2007 the city is home to 19 universities and colleges, including the University of Hanoi (1956), the Hanoi University of Finance and Accounting (1963), and the Hanoi National Institute of Technology (1956). Hanoi's libraries and museums include the National Library of Vietnam (1919), the Army Museum (1959), and the Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts (1966).
Metropolitan Hanoi covers an area of 2146 sq km (829 sq mi). The city proper is divided into four administrative sectors. Hoan Kiem (the oldest sector) is located on the bank of the Red River. This area is characterized by French colonial-style buildings and wide boulevards.
In 1888 the French took control of the entire urban area and rebuilt the city. A large French quarter of government buildings, shops, and residences quickly emerged just south of the merchant quarter. From the 1880s to World War II (1939-1945), Hanoi developed as a French colonial capital.
Hanoi was the center of the August 1945 Revolution of the Vietminh, a coalition of Vietnamese Communists and nationalists. Fighting in Hanoi ended in 1947. The urban population may then have been only 12,000, a dramatic drop from 1943 when the population was about 120,000.
Migrants and refugees soon moved into the area and by 1954 metropolitan Hanoi's population had grown to more than 400,000. Metropolitan Hanoi had a population of 3,056,146 at the 1989 census. Most residents are ethnic Vietnamese, and Vietnamese is the common language.
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Hanoi has long been the center of education in the north. From 1442 to the late 19th century, the city was a major site of Vietnam's periodic civil service examinations, which tested knowledge of Confucianism, the foundation of the state's political system.
In 1010 AD Hanoi became the capital of a reestablished Vietnamese kingdom.
Major cities near Hanoi:
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