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Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam 1955–75.On 2 July 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Định Province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh (although the name The Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area, a metropolitan area covering most parts of the southeast region plus Tiền Giang Province and Long An Province under planning, will have an area of 30,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi) with a population of 20 million inhabitants by 2020.An etymology of Saigon (or Sài Gòn in Vietnamese) is that Sài is a Sino-Vietnamese word (Hán tự: 柴) meaning "firewood, lops, twigs; palisade", while Gòn is another Sino-Vietnamese word (Hán tự: 棍) meaning "stick, pole, bole", and whose meaning evolved into "cotton" in Vietnamese (bông gòn, literally "cotton stick", i.e., "cotton plant", then shortened to gòn).

A large Vauban citadel called Gia Định was built Conquered by France and Spain in 1859, the city was influenced by the French during their colonial occupation of Vietnam, and a number of classical Western-style buildings and French villas in the city reflect this.Saigon had, in 1929, a population of 123,890, including 12,100 French.In 1956, after South Vietnam's independence from France in 1955, the région of Saïgon–Cholon became a single city called Saïgon following the merger of the two cities of Saïgon and Cholon.South Vietnam was a capitalist and anti-communist state which fought against the communist North Vietnamese and their allies during the Vietnam War, with the assistance of the United States and other countries.The Viet Minh, on the other hand, was supported by the Soviet Union.

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