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Gulf of Tonkin
Gulf of Tonkin location.gif
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 1. 東京灣
2. 北部灣
Simplified Chinese 1. 东京湾
2. 北部湾
Literal meaning 1. Gulf of Tonkin
2. Gulf of the northern part
Vietnamese name
Quốc ngữ 1. Vịnh Bắc Bộ
2. Vịnh Bắc Phần
3. Vịnh Bắc Việt
Chữ nôm 1. 泳北部
2. 泳北分
3. 泳北越

The Gulf of Tonkin, in Vietnamese: Vịnh Bắc Bộ or in Chinese: Beibu Wan is an arm of the South China Sea. Covering an area of 126,250 km², the gulf borders Vietnam on the northwest, west and southwest. China lies to the north with the Island of Hainan forms the eastern limits of the gulf. The gulf is notably shallow (less than 60 meters deep). Haiphong, Vietnam and Beihai, China are the chief ports. Numerous small islands are located in the gulf, most of which are concentrated in the northwestern gulf. Of note are larger islands of Bach Long Vi and Cat Ba of Vietnam and Weizhou of China. The Red River is the main river flowing into the Gulf.

The name Tonkin, written 東京 in Chinese characters and Đông Kinh in Vietnamese, means 'Eastern Capital', and is the former toponym for Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. (Incidentally, the same Chinese characters are used to write "Tokyo", capital of Japan.)

In August of 1964, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson said that North Vietnamese forces had twice attacked American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.[1] Although there was a first attack, claims of a second attack were later said to be exaggerated or unfounded.[2] Known today as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, this led to the open involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War, with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.


  1. ^ LBJ tape 'confirms Vietnam war error', Martin Fletcher, The Times, Nov 7th, 2001
  2. ^ Gulf of Tonkin - 11/30/2005 and 05/30/2006: National Security Agency.

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This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.

Coordinates: 19°16′22″N 107°19′33″E / 19.27278°N 107.32583°E / 19.27278; 107.32583

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