ANNAM, or Anam, a country of south-eastern Asia, now forming a French protectorate, part of the peninsula of Indo-China. (See Indo-China, French). It is bounded N. by Tongking, E. and S.E. by the China Sea, S.W. by Cochin-China, and W. by Cambodia and Laos. It comprises a sinuous strip of territory measuring between 750 and 800 m. in length, with an approximate area of 52,000 sq. m. The population is estimated at about 6,124,000.

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 plain varying between 12 and 50 m. 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 alone of any size. The chief harbour is that afforded by the bay of Tourane at the centre of the coast-line. 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.

Climate.—In Annam the rainy season begins during September and lasts for three or four months, corresponding with the north-east monsoon and also with a period of typhoons. During the rains the temperature varies from 59° or even lower to 75° F. June, July and August are the hottest months, the thermometer often reaching 85° or 90°, though the heat of the day is to some degree compensated by the freshness of the nights. The south-west 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.

Ethnography.—The Annamese, or, to use the native term, the Giao-chi, are the predominant people not only in Annam but in the lowland and cultivated parts of Tongking and in Cochin-China and southern Cambodia. According to their own annals and traditions they once inhabited southern China, a theory which is confirmed by many of their habits and physical characteristics; the race has, however, been modified by crossings with the Chams and other of the previous inhabitants of Indo-China.

The Annamese is the worst-built and ugliest of all the Indo-Chinese who belong to the Mongolian race. He is scarcely of middle height and is shorter and less vigorous than his neighbours. His complexion is tawny, darker than that of the Chinese, but clearer than that of the Cambodian; his hair is black, coarse and long; his skin is thick; his forehead low; his skull slightly depressed at the top, but well developed at the sides. His face is flat, with highly protruding cheek-bones, and is lozenge-shaped or eurygnathous to a degree that is nowhere exceeded. His nose is not only the flattest, but also the smallest among the Indo-Chinese; his eyes are rarely oblique; his mouth is large and his lips thick; his teeth are blackened and his gums destroyed by the constant use of the betel-nut, the areca-nut and lime. His neck is short, his shoulders slope greatly, his body is thick-set and wanting in suppleness. Another peculiarity is a separation of the big toe from the rest, greater than is found in any other people, and sufficiently general and well marked to serve as an ethnographic test. The Annamese of Cochin-China are weaker and smaller than those of Tongking, probably as a result of living amid marshy rice-fields. The Annamese of both sexes wear wide trousers, a long, usually black tunic with narrow sleeves and a dark-coloured turban, or in the case of the lower classes, a wide straw hat; they either go bare-foot or wear sandals or Chinese boots. The typical Annamese dwelling is open to the gaze of the passer-by during the day; at night a sort of partition of bamboo is let down. The roof is supported on wooden pillars and walls are provided only at the sides. The house consists principally of one large room opening on the front verandah and containing the altar of the family’s ancestors, a table in the centre and couches placed against the wall. The chief elements of the native diet are rice, fish and poultry; vegetables and pork are also eaten. The family is the base of the social system in Annam and is ruled by its head, who is also priest and judge. Polygamy is permitted but rarely practised, and the wife enjoys a position of some freedom.

Though fond of ease the Annamese are more industrious than the neighbouring peoples. Theatrical and musical entertainments are popular among them. They show much outward respect for superiors and parents, but they are insincere and incapable of deep emotion. They cherish great love of their native soil and native village and cannot remain long from home. A proneness to gambling and opium-smoking, and a tinge of vanity and deceitfulness, are their less estimable traits. On the whole they are mild and easy-going and even apathetic, but the facility with which they learn is remarkable. Like their neighbours the Cambodians and the Chinese, the Annamese have a great respect for the dead, and ancestor worship constitutes the national religion. The learned hold the doctrine of Confucius, and Buddhism, alloyed with much popular superstition, has some influence. Like the Chinese the Annamese bury their dead.

Among the savage tribes of the interior there is scarcely any idea of God and their superstitious practices can scarcely be considered as the expression of a definite religious idea. Roman Catholics number about 420,000. In the midst of the Annamese live Cambodians and immigrant Chinese, the latter associated together according to the districts from which they come and carrying on nearly all the commerce of the country. In the forests and mountains dwell tribes of savages, chiefly of Indonesian origin, classed by the Annamese under the name Moïs or “savages.” Some of these tribes show traces of Malay ancestry. Of greater historical interest are the Chams, who are to be found for the most part in southern Annam and in Cambodia, and who, judging from the numerous remains found there, appear to have been the masters of the coast region of Cochin-China and Annam till they succumbed before the pressure of the Khmers of Cambodia and the Annamese. They are taller, more muscular, and more supple than the Annamese. Their language is derived from Malay, and while some of the Chams are Mussulmans, the dominant religion is Brahmanism, and more especially the worship of Siva. Their women have a high reputation for virtue, which, combined with the general bright and honest character of the whole people, differentiates them from the surrounding nations.

Evidently derived from the Chinese, of which it appears to be a very ancient dialect, the Annamese language is composed of monosyllables, of slightly varied articulation, expressing different ideas according to the tone in which they are pronounced. It is quite impossible to connect with our musical system the utterance of the sounds of which the Chinese and Annamese languages are composed. What is understood by a “tone” in this language is distinguished in reality, not by the number of sonorous vibrations which belong to it, but rather by a use of the vocal apparatus special to each. Thus, the sense will to a native be completely changed according as the sound is the result of an aspiration or of a simple utterance of the voice. Thence the difficulty of substituting our phonetic alphabet for the ideographic characters of the Chinese, as well as for the ideophonetic writing partly borrowed by the Annamese from the letters of the celestial empire. To the Jesuit missionaries is due the introduction of an ingenious though very complicated system, which has caused remarkable progress to be made in the employment of phonetic characters. By means of six accents, one bar and a crotchet it is possible to note with sufficient precision the indications of tone without which the Annamese words have no sense for the natives.

Agriculture and other Industries.—The cultivation of rice, which is grown mainly in the small deltas along the coast and in some districts gives two crops annually, and fishing, together with fish-salting and the preparation of nuoc-mam, a sauce made from decaying fish, constitute the chief industries of Annam.

Silk spinning and weaving are carried on on antiquated lines, and silkworms are reared in a desultory fashion. Besides rice, the products of the country include tea, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, precious woods and rubber; coffee, pepper, sugar-canes and jute are cultivated to a minor extent. The exports (total value in 1905 £237,010) comprise tea, raw silk and small quantities of cotton, rice and sugar-cane. The imports (£284,824 in 1905) 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 occur in the mountains. Trade, which is in the hands of the Chinese, is for the most part carried on by sea, the chief ports being Tourane and Qui-Nhon, which are open to European commerce.

Administration.—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 Hué, 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.

The following table summarizes the local budget of Annam for the years 1899 and 1904:—

—  Receipts. Expenditure.
£203,082 (direct taxes, £171,160) 
£247,435 (direct taxes, £219,841) 

In 1904 the sum allocated to the expenses of the court, the royal family and the native administration, the members of which are paid by the crown, was £85,000, the chief remaining heads of expenditure being the government house and residencies (£39,709), the native guard (£32,609) and public works (£24,898).

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 Hué, 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 Hué (pop. about 42,000), seat both of the French and native governments, Tourane (pop. about 4000), Phan-Thiet (pop. about 20,000) in the extreme south, Qui-Nhon, and Fai-Fo, a commercial centre to the south of Tourane. A road following the coast from Cochin-China to Tongking, and known as the “Mandarin road,” passes through or near the chief towns of the provinces and forms the chief artery of communication in the country apart from the railways (see Indo-China, French).

History.—The ancient tribe of the Giao-chi, who dwelt on the confines of S. 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 nation of 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 Nguyen 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 Nguyen, but one of its members, 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, 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 Indo-China.

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).