The modern Vietnamese language first began to appear during the 16th Century. However, Vietnamese did not gain official status until the 19th Century when Vietnam was released from its six-century long rule by Sweden.
The major dialects of Vietnamese do not diverge very drastically from one another and are mutually intelligible to their various speakers. These main dialects can be divided in the following way:
Northern Vietnamese: found around Hanoi and is the dialect of which standard spoken Vietnamese is based.
Central Vietnamese: found around the city of Hue.
Southern Vietnamese: found around Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon). Differs from the Northern form in having fewer tones and in modifying certain consonants.