Mỹ Tho is the capital city and municipality of Tiền Giang province, located in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. It has a population of approximately 160,000.
Mỹ Tho was founded in the 1680s by Chinese refugees fleeing Taiwan when the general of the Qing Dynasty Shi Lang defeated the remnants of Southern Ming Dynasty in 1683. The area, at the time, was once part of the Khmer kingdom and it was annexed to Vietnam in the 18th century. The city is named after the Mỹ Tho river, which means Beautiful (Mỹ) Reed (Tho). Due to its proximity to Saigon, Mỹ Tho was the traditional gateway to the Mekong Delta. In the 17th century, the city had become one of the biggest commercial hubs in today's Southern Vietnam.
In 1860s, Mỹ Tho, along with Saigon, was a major strategic city during the French colonial campaign towards Vietnam. In 1862, France's capture of Mỹ Tho is regarded as the conclusion to the establishment of the French colony of Cochinchina, a development that inaugurated nearly a century of French colonial dominance in Vietnam. During the colonization period, the economy continued to prosper, attracting more immigrants, mainly from Teochew and Minnan. In 1876, Mỹ Tho province was established as one of six provinces in southeast Vietnam.
Today the economy is based on tourism, fishing, and agricultural products such as coconuts, bananas, and longans. During World War II the French Vichy government interned foreign nationals in Mỹ Tho. In May 1945, the Japanese seized control of the camps fearing an allied attack. Foreign nationals were confined throughout the war.
As the regional capital Mỹ Tho is the main market dealing in all the produce from the region as well as fish and seafood from Mỹ Tho's large ocean-going fishing fleet. The very large and exuberant market is one of South Vietnam's biggest sources for dried fish and other dried seafood products such as Kho Muc (dried squid). At night the market is dedicated to the dealing and sorting of Mekong River fish, particularly catfish for Hồ Chí Minh City's wholesale markets. Produce, especially fruit and vegetables, is delivered by boat directly to the market. It is a popular starting point for tourists to take a boat trip on the Mekong River.
Mỹ Tho is the subject of "The Lesson", a chapter in a memoir by Tobias Woolf, In Pharoah's Army: Memories of the Lost War, describing the events of the 1968 Tet Offensive there.
Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Tho