The Vietnam War was a long (1954-1975), costly (America spent more than 165 billion dollars on the war) armed conflict that pitted the communist regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The war began in 1954 (though conflict in the region stretched back to the mid-1940s), after the rise to power of Ho Chi Minh and his communist Vietminh party in North Vietnam, and continued against the backdrop of an intense Cold War between two global superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. By 1969, at the peak of U.S. involvement in the war, more than 540,000 U.S. military personnel were involved in the Vietnam conflict. It resulted in nearly 60,000 American deaths and an estimated 2 million Vietnamese deaths. It was the first war to come into American living rooms nightly. Growing opposition to the war in the United States led to bitter divisions among Americans, both before and after President Richard Nixon ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973. In 1975, communist forces seized control of Saigon, ending the Vietnam War, and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year.
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