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Tonkin (Bắc Kỳ in Vietnamese), also spelled Tongkin, Tonquin or Tongking, is the northernmost part of Vietnammarker, south of Chinamarker's Yunnanmarker and Guangxi Provinces, east of northern Laosmarker, and west of the Gulf of Tonkinmarker. Locally, it is known as Bắc Kỳ, meaning "Northern Region". Located on the fertile delta of the Red Rivermarker, Tonkin is rich in rice production.

The term derives from Đông Kinh () , a former name of Hanoimarker, which was the capital of Vietnam since the 7th century. (The name means "eastern capital", and is identical in meaning and written form in Chinese characters to that of Tokyomarker.)


The area was called Văn Lang by Vietnamese ancestors at around 2000-100 BCE. Evidence of the earliest established society other than the Đông Sơn culture in Northern Vietnam was found in Cổ Loamarker, the ancient city situated near present-day Hà Nội. According to Vietnamese myths the first Vietnamese peoples descended from the Dragon Lord Lạc Long Quân and the Immortal Fairy Âu Cơ. Lạc Long Quân and Âu Cơ had 100 sons before they decided to part ways. 50 of the children went with their mother to the mountains, and the other 50 went with their father to the sea. The eldest son became the first in a line of earliest Vietnamese kings, collectively known as the Hùng kings (Hùng Vương or the Hồng Bàng Dynasty). The Hùng kings called the country, which was then located on the Red River delta in present-day northern Vietnam, Văn Lang. The people of Văn Lang were referred to as the Lạc Việt.

Tonkin (French colony)

France assumed sovereignty over all of Vietnam after the Sino-French War (1884-1885). The French colonial government then divided Vietnam into three different administrative territories. They named the territories: Tonkin (in the north), Annam (in the center), and Cochinchina (in the south). These territories were fairly arbitrary in their geographic extent. The vast majority of the Vietnamese regarded their country as a single land and fought for much of the next 90 years to achieve unification.

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