Saigon (written in Vietnamese as Sài Gòn) was known as Prey Nokor in Khmer prior to annexation by the Vietnamese in the 17th century. Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina (one of the three protectorates of colonised Vietnam) and later of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) during South Vietnam’s independence between 1955 and 1975. On 2 July 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Định Province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh (although the name Saigon is still widely used).