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In the early 17th century, Ho Chi Minh City began as a small fishing village known as Prey Nokor. In 1698, Nguyen Huu Canh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Hue by sea to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area. Conquered by France 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.
Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochin-china and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam from 1955–75. South Vietnam, as an anti-communist, capitalist republic, fought against the communist from the North of Vietnam during the Vietnam War, with aid from the United States and countries including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and South Korea. Saigon fell when it was captured by the communists on 30 April 1975, ending the war with a Communist victory. Vietnam was then turned into a communist state with the South overtaken. On 2 July 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Dinh province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after Ho Chi Minh (although the name Sai Gon is still commonly used).
The city center is situated on the banks of the Saigon River and it is away from Ha Noi about 1,760 kilometers (1,090 mi). The metropolitan area of Ho Chi Minh City metropolitan area is populated by more than 9,000,000 people, making it the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam. The city's population is expected to grow to 13.9 million in 2025.