From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search
Annam is also the name of the Father of all Giants, according to the mythology of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.

Annam, literally meaning "Pacified South", is a region of central Vietnam that fell under Chinese rule in 111 BC as Annan (安南). Known locally as Trung Bộ, meaning "Central Boundary", it was formerly a kingdom the size of Sweden with its capital at Huế. It had been seized by the French by 1884 and was part of the French-ruled federation of French Indochina from 1887 until its collapse in 1954 as a result of the French defeat in the First Indochina War.

The other two Vietnamese regions that were federatated into French Indochina after the Franco-Chinese War were Cochin China (also known as Nam Bộ) and Tongking (also known as Tonkin or Đông Kinh).

Flag of Annam Protectorate
Flag of Annam Protectorate

Annam comprises a sinuous strip of territory measuring between 750 and 800 miles in length, with an approximate area of 52,000 square miles. It has a rich, well-watered soil which yields tropical crops, and is rich in naturally-occuring minerals.

The country consists chiefly of a range of plateaus and wooded mountains, running north and south and declining on the coast to a narrow band of plains varying between 12 and 50 miles in breadth. The mountains are cut transversely by short narrow valleys, through which run rivers, most of which are dry in summer and torrential in winter. The Song Ma and the Song Ca in the north, and the Song Ba, Don Nai and Se Bang Khan in the south, are the only rivers of any size in the region. The chief harbour is that afforded by the bay of Tourane (also known as Đà Nẵng) at the centre of the coastline. South of this point, the coast curves outwards and is broken by peninsulas and indentations; to the north it is concave and bordered in many places by dunes and lagoons.



In Annam, the rainy season begins during September and lasts for three or four months, corresponding with the northeastern monsoon and also with a period of typhoons. During the rains the temperature varies from 59 degrees or even lower to 75 degrees F. June, July and August are the hottest months, the thermometer often reaching 85 degrees or 90 degrees, though the heat of the day is to some degree compensated by the freshness of the nights. The southwest monsoon which brings rain in Cochin China coincides with the dry season in Annam, the reason probably being that the mountains and lofty plateaus separating the two countries retain the precipitation.

Agriculture and other industries

This section is out of date.

The chief industries of Annam are:

  • the cultivation of rice, which is grown mainly in the small deltas along the coast and in some districts gives two crops a year.
  • fishing, fish-salting and the preparation of nước mắm

Silk spinning and weaving are carried on in antiquated lines, and silkworms are reared in a desultory fashion. In additon to rice, the crops of Annam include tea, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, precious woods and rubber. Coffee, pepper, sugarcane and jute are also cultivated to a minor extent. The exports comprise tea, raw silk and small quantities of cotton, rice and sugarcane. The imports include rice, iron goods, flour, wine, opium and cotton goods. There are coal-mines at Nong Son, near Tourane, and gold, silver, lead, iron and other metals which occur in the mountains. Trade, which is controled by the Chinese, is mostly carried out on the sea, with the chief ports being Tourane and Qui Nhon, which are open to European commerce.


This section is out of date.

Annam is ruled in theory by its emperor, assisted by the "comat" or secret council, composed of the heads of the six ministerial departments of the interior, finance, war, ritual, justice and public works, who are nominated by himself. The resident superior, stationed at Huế, is the representative of France and the virtual ruler of the country. He presides over a council (Conseil de Protectorat) composed of the chiefs of the French services in Annam, together with two members of the "comat"; this body deliberates on questions of taxation affecting the budget of Annam and on local public works. A native governor (Tong Doc or Tuan Phu), assisted by a native staff, administers each of the provinces into which the country is divided, and native officials of lower rank govern the areas into which these provinces are subdivided. The governors take their orders from the imperial government, but they are under the eye of French residents. Native officials are appointed by the court, but the resident superior has power to annul an appointment. The mandarinate or official class is recruited from all ranks of the people by competitive examination. In the province of Tourane, a French tribunal alone exercises jurisdiction, but it administers native law where natives are concerned. Outside this territory the native tribunals survive. The Annamese village is self-governing. It has its council of notables, forming a sort of oligarchy which, through the medium of a mayor and two subordinates, directs the interior affairs of the community--policing, recruiting, the assignment and collection of taxes, &c.--and has judicial power in less important suits and crimes. More serious cases come within the purview of the an sat, a judicial auxiliary of the governor. An assembly of notables from villages grouped together in a canton chooses a cantonal representative, who is the mouthpiece of the people and the intermediary between the government and its subjects. The direct taxes, which go to the local budget of Annam, consist primarily of a poll-tax levied on all males over eighteen and below sixty years of age, and of a land-tax levied according to the quality and the produce of the holding.

Education is available to every person in the community. The primary school, in which the pupils learn only Chinese writing and the precepts of Confucius, stands at the base of this system. Next above this is the school of the district capital, where a half-yearly examination takes place, by means of which are selected those eligible for the course of higher education given at the capital of the province in a school under the direction of a doc hoc, or inspector of studies. Finally a great triennial competition decides the elections. The candidate whose work is notified as très bien is admitted to the examinations at Huế, which qualify for the title of doctor and the holding of administrative offices. The education of a mandarin includes local history, cognizance of the administrative rites, customs, laws and prescriptions of the country, the ethics of Confucius, the rules of good breeding, the ceremonial of official and social life, and the practical acquirements necessary to the conduct of public or private business. Annamese learning goes no farther. It includes no scientific idea, no knowledge of the natural sciences, and neglects even the most rudimentary instruction conveyed in a European education. The complications of Chinese writing greatly hamper education. The Annamese Mandarin must be acquainted with Chinese, since he writes in Chinese characters. But the character being ideographic, the words which express them are dissimilar in the two languages, and official text is read in Chinese by a Chinese, in Annamese by an Annamese.

The chief towns of Annam are Huế (seat both of the French and native governments), Tourane, Phan Thiết in the extreme south, Qui Nhon, and Fai Fo (a commercial centre to the south of Tourane). A road popularly known as the "Mandarin Road" follows the coast from Cochin China to Tongking, and passes through or near the chief towns of the provinces. This forms the main artery of communication in the country apart from the railways (see French Indo-China).


The ancient tribe of the Giao Chi, who dwelt on the confines of south China, and in what is now Tongking and northern Annam, are regarded by the Annamese as their ancestors, and tradition ascribes to their first rulers descent from the Chinese imperial family. These sovereigns were succeeded by another dynasty, under which, at the end of the 3rd century B.C., the Chinese invaded the country, and eventually established there a supremacy destined to last, with little intermission, till the 10th century A.D. In 968 Dinh Bo Lanh succeeded in ousting the Chinese and founded an independent dynasty of Dinh. Till this period the greater part of Annam had been occupied by the Chams, a Hindu civilization, which has left many monuments to testify to its greatness, but the encroachment of the Annamese during the next six centuries at last left to it only a small territory in the south of the country. Three lines of sovereigns followed that of Dinh, under the last of which, about 1407, Annam again fell under the Chinese yoke. In 1428, an Annamese general Le Loi succeeded in freeing the country once more, and founded a dynasty which lasted till the end of the 18th century. During the greater part of this period, however, the titular sovereigns were mere puppets, the reality of power being in the hands of the family of Trinh in Tongking and that of Nguyễn in southern Annam, which in 1568 became a separate principality under the name of Cochin China. Towards the end of the 18th century a rebellion overthrew the Nguyễn, but one of its members, Emperor Gia Long, by the aid of a French force, in 1801 acquired sway over the whole of Annam, Tongking and Cochin China. This force was procured for him by Pigneau de Béhaine, bishop of Adran in France, who saw in the political condition of Annam a means of establishing French influence in Indo-China and counterbalancing the English power in India. Before this, in 1787, Gia Long had concluded a treaty with Louis XVI., whereby in return for a promise of aid he ceded Tourane and Pulo-Condore to the French. That treaty marks the beginning of French influence in Indochina.

The earliest printed book of Vietnam was published in 1335: the 20-volume An Nam Chí Lược (The Concise Records of Annam, 《安南志略》), written by Lê Tắc (黎崱 li4 ce4).

The name gave rise to the Annamitic Chain (la Chaîne Annamitique), a 1100-km mountain range with a height ranging up to 2958 metres, that divides Vietnam and Laos.


See also Legrand de la Liraye, Notes historiques sur la nation annamite (Paris, 1866?); C. Gosselin, L'Empire d'Annam (Paris, 1904); E. Sombsthay, Cours de législation et d' administration annamites (Paris, 1898).

See also

This article incorporates text from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, which is in the public domain.

edit Former French colonies, protectorate and possessions
Alaouites | Alexandretta | Algeria | Anjouan | Djibouti | France Antarctique | French Equatorial Africa (Chad, Gabon, Middle Congo, Oubangui-Chari) | French India (Chandernagore, Coromandel Coast, Malabar, Mahe, Pondichery, Karikal, Yanaon) | French Indochina (Annam, Cochinchina, Kampuchea, Laos, Tonkin) | French Togoland | French West Africa (Côte d'Ivoire, Dahomey, French Sudan, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Upper Volta) | Inini | Kwang-Chou-Wan | Madagascar | New France (Acadia, Louisiana, Québec, Terre Neuve) | Saint-Domingue | Tunisia | Vanuatu
French colonisation of the Americas
Personal tools