Last modified: 2003-04-19 by phil nelson
Keywords: vietnam | cambodia | laos | indochina | cochinchina |
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In the 1st through 5th centuries, most of southeast Asia was dominated by Funan, which included most of present Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and the Mekong delta region of Vietnam. Funan was supplanted around the 6th century by Chenla. Annam was a small coastal strip in north Vietnam and southern China, and south of it Champa controlled a coastal strip in central Vietnam.
Pressure from China pushed Annam southwards, and in turn Annam pushed Champa south to roughly modern central South Vietnam. Around the 12th century the Khmers emerged as a great empire controlling all the lower Mekong, leaving Sukhothai as a small version of modern Siam and Laos. The Khmer Empire collapsed after Siam seized Angkor in 1431.
The Khmers (Cambodia) thereafter found themselves pinched between their more powerful neighbours Siam and Annam. In the late 18th and early 19th century, much of Cambodia was partitioned between Siam and Annam. In 1844 what was left of Cambodia became a protectorate of Siam.
Around the 15th-16th century the Kingdom of Luang Prabang emerged along the upper and middle Mekong River. Vientiane and the middle Mekong broke away in 1707. Both Luang Prabang and Vientiane came under Siamese suzerainty in 1778. During most of its existence, Laos (Luang Prabang and Vientiane) remained disputed between Siam and Annam. Laos did not re-emerge as a distinct and separate entity until the French declared a protectorate over this disputed region in 1893.
Annam expanded further southward into Champa in the 16th-17th centuries, and into the Mekong Delta in the 18th century. Annam (with capital at Hue) seized Saigon in 1776. I'm not sure when, but north Annam and the Mekong delta region became separate entities as Tongking and Cochinchina respectively. Annam reunited the whole region (equivalent to modern Vietnam) with the creation of the Vietnamese Empire in 1802, but Cochin, Annam, and Tongking remained separate administrative regions.
France annexed Cochin in 1862 and 1867, with their capital at
Saigon. Cambodia became a French protectorate in 1863, and Siam gave
up its claims to the area in 1867. The French then made protectorates
of Annam and Tongking in 1884, and united the whole lot into the
Union Indochinoise in 1887 (with the capital still at Saigon). Laos
joined this union when it became a French protectorate in 1893.
After a confrontation with France, Siam ceded large chunks of its
territory which France patched on to northern Cambodia and Laos in
T.F. Mills, 19 October 1997
Until the Khmer Cochin region (greater Mekong delta) was annexed by Annam (in 1698 and 1731), Annam was actually known as Cochin to Europeans. Cochin was a Portuguese corruption of "Ko-chen", whose meaning is unknown. -China was tacked on to Cochin to distinguish it from Cochin in India.
"Indochina" as a name was proposed for the region in the early 19th century by Scottish poet and orientalist John Leyden, because it lay between India and China -- and perhaps because it had in its early history been dominated by those superpowers.
Here are some more notes on the formation of the region:
by Jorge Candeias
The Cochinchinese flag that shown is a late XIXth century flag. As you
know, the Indochinese Union was made of 5 entities: 1 colony (Cochinchina)
and 4 protectorates (Tonkin, Annam and Paracel Islands, Cambodia, Laos). Is
this flag the official flag of the Colony of Cochinchina? Do you have any
info about its status? and last question: as there are known flags for
Cochinchina, Annam, Cambodia and Laos, there must have been one for Tonkin.
Does anyone know something about a Tonkinese flag during French rule?
Pierre Gay, 13 December 1998
The Cochinchina flag was in fact an ensign. Seems that was an older ensign
of the Anam Emperors: yellow (as China) with serrated ribbon. The serrated
ribbon seems to be wrong interpreted from far observation or
descriptions, and converted in many triangles (they are reported somewhat as
grey-blue, green, maroon, and black; and now in blue). But after the
establishment of the protectorate the ensign was little (or never) used in
Cochinchina, and disappeared also in Anam before c. 1885.
Afterwards, there was no flag for Cochinchina colony (like no flag for French colonies).
Tonkin was a vice-kingdom of Anam. Perhaps the viceroy used his own standard but
that is not know for me. I believe that no specific flag for Tonkin was never
Jaume Ollé, 13 December 1998
by Jaume Ollé
The Empire of Anam was under French protection since 1886. I've seen an old state flag, that was yellow with two "eastern" (chinese or annamite) write-characters in black. After 1886 the yellow flag included the french tricolor in the canton. The national flag was three horizontal strips yellow, red, and yellow (Proportion 1:2:1).
Jaume Ollé - 23 September 1997