Hanoi is the capital of the socialist republic of Vietnam. It lies 100km from the sea along the Red river in the plains and has over 3 million inhabitants. It is a city built around several lakes, with many tree lined boulevards and a rich, very well preserved colonial heritage. Hanoi hasn't yet experienced the run-away development typical of many Asian capitals.
The area around Hanoi has been inhabited for at least 5000 years, while the first defensive citadel was established in the 8th century. With a few brief interruptions, between 1010 and 1802 it was the political centre of an independent Vietnamese state. Between 1887 and 1954 it served as the capital of French Indochina. In 1954 it became initially the capital of North Vietnam, since 1976 it is the capital of Vietnam.