Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
620
COCHIN—COCHIN-CHINA

state and forced the raja to acknowledge his suzerainty and pay tribute. In 1791 Tippoo, son of Hyder Ali, ceded the sovereignty to the British, who entered into a treaty with the raja by which he became their vassal and paid an annual tribute of a lakh of rupees. On the 17th of October 1809, in consequence of an attempt of the hereditary chief minister Paliyath Achan, in 1808, to raise an insurrection against the British without his master’s knowledge, a fresh treaty was made, by which the raja undertook to hold no correspondence with any foreign state and to admit no foreigners to his service without the sanction of the British government, which, while undertaking to defend the raja’s territories against all enemies, reserved the right to dismantle or to garrison any of his fortresses. In 1818 the tribute, raised to 2½ lakhs in 1808, was permanently fixed at 2 lakhs. Since then, under the rule of the rajas, the state has greatly advanced in prosperity, especially under that of H. H. Sir Sri Rama Varma (b. 1852), who succeeded in 1895, was made a K.C.S.I. in 1897, and G.C.S.I. in 1903.


COCHIN, a town of British India, in the district of Malabar, Madras. Pop. (1901) 19,274. The town lies at the northern extremity of a strip of land about 12 m. in length, but in few places more than a mile in breadth, which is nearly insulated by inlets of the sea and estuaries of streams flowing from the Western Ghats. These form the Cochin backwaters, which consist of shallow lagoons lying behind the beach-line and below its level. In the monsoon the Cochin backwaters are broad navigable channels and lakes; in the hot weather they contract into shallows in many places not 2 ft. deep. The town of Cochin is about a mile in length by half a mile in breadth. Its first European possessors were the Portuguese. Vasco da Gama founded a factory in 1502, and Albuquerque built a fort, the first European fort in India, in 1503. The British made a settlement in 1634, but retired when the Dutch captured the town in 1663. Under the Dutch the town prospered, and about 1778 an English traveller described it as a place of great trade, “a harbour filled with ships, streets crowded with merchants, and warehouses stored with goods from every part of Asia and Europe, marked the industry, the commerce, and the wealth of the inhabitants.” In 1795 Cochin was captured from the Dutch by the British, and in 1806 the fortifications and public buildings were blown up by order of the authorities. The explosion destroyed much private property, and for a long time seriously affected the prosperity of the town. Considerable sea-borne trade is still carried on. A lighthouse stands on the ruins of the old fort. The chief exports are cocoanut products, for the preparation of which there are factories, and tea; and the chief import is rice. Cochin is the only port south of Bombay in which large ships can be built.


COCHIN-CHINA,[1] a French colony in the extreme south of French Indo-China. The term formerly included the whole Annamese empire—Tongking, Annam, and Lower Cochin-China, but it now comprises only the French colony, which corresponds to Lower Cochin-China, and consists of the six southern provinces of the Annamese empire annexed by France in 1862 and 1867. Cochin-China is bounded W. by the Gulf of Siam, N.W. and N. by Cambodia, E. by Annam, and S.E. by the China Sea. Except along part of the north-west frontier, where the canal of Vinh-Thé divides it from Cambodia, its land-limits are conventional. Its area is about 22,000 sq. m.

In 1901 the population numbered 2,968,529, of whom 4932 were French (exclusive of French troops, who numbered 2537), 2,558,301 Annamese, 231,902 Cambodians, 92,075 Chinese, 42,940 savages (Min Huong), the rest being Asiatics of other nationalities, together with a few Europeans other than French.

Geography.—Cochin-China consists chiefly of an immense plain, flat and monotonous, traversed by the Mekong and extending from Ha-Tien in the west to Baria in the east, and from Bien-Hoa in the north-east to the southern point of the peninsula of Ca-Mau in the south-west. The last spurs of the mountains of Annam, which come to an end at Cape St Jacques, extend over parts of the provinces of Tay-Ninh, Bien-Hoa and Baria in the north-east and east of the colony, but nowhere exceed 2900 ft. in height; low hills are found in the north-western province of Chau-Doc. Cochin-China is remarkable for the abundance of its waterways. The Mekong divides at Pnom-Penh in Cambodia into two arms, the Fleuve supérieur and the Fleuve inférieur, which, pursuing a course roughly parallel from north-west to south-east, empty into the China Sea by means of the numerous channels of its extensive delta. From June to October the inundations of the Mekong cover most of the country, portions of which, notably the Plaine des Joncs in the north and a large tract of the peninsula of Ca-Mau, are little else than marshes. Besides a great number of small coastal streams there are four other rivers of secondary importance, all of which water the east of the colony, viz. the Don-Nai, which rising in the Annamese mountains flows west, then abruptly south, reaching the sea to the west of Cape St Jacques; the Saigon river, which flowing from north-west to south-east passes Saigon, the capital of the colony, 12 m. below which it unites with the Don-Nai; and the two Vaicos, which join the Don-Nai close to its mouth. These rivers flow into the sea through numerous winding channels, forming a delta united by canals to that of the Mekong. The waterways of Cochin-China communicate by means of natural or artificial channels (arroyos), facilitating transport and aiding in the uniform distribution of the inundation to which the country owes its fertility. Canals from Chau-Doc to Ha-Tien and from Long Xuyen to Rach-Gia join the Mekong with the Gulf of Siam. East of Cape St Jacques the mountains of Annam come down close to the sea; west of that point, as far as the southern headland of Ca-Mau, the coast-line of Cochin-China runs north-east to south-west for about 160 m. in a straight line broken only by the mouths of the Don-Nai and Mekong. From Cape Ca-Mau to Rach-Gia it runs north for a distance of 120 m., then north-west as far as Ha-Tien, where the boundary line between it and Cambodia meets the sea.

Climate and Fauna.—The climate of the country is warm, humid, and very trying to Europeans. The wet season, during which heavy rain falls almost daily, lasts from April to October, coinciding with the south-west monsoon. The hottest period lasts from the middle of April to the middle of June, the thermometer during that time often reaching 94° F., and never descending below 86°. The forest regions of Cochin-China harbour the tiger, panther, leopard, tiger-cat, ichneumon, wild boar, deer, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant, as well as many varieties of monkeys and rats. Of birds some species of parrakeet, the “mandarin” blackbird, and the woodcock are not found in the rest of Indo-China. Duck, teal, cranes and other aquatic birds abound in the delta. Venomous reptiles are numerous, and the Mekong contains crocodiles.

Agriculture and Industries.—The cultivation of the rice-fields, which cover large extents of the plains of Cochin-China, is by far the chief industry of the colony. Pepper is grown in considerable quantities in the districts of Ha-Tien and Bien-Hoa, and sugar-canes, coffee, cotton, tobacco and jute are also produced. The buffalo, used both for transport and in the rice-fields, and swine, the flesh of which forms an important element in the native diet, are the principal domestic animals. Oxen and cows are of secondary importance and the climate is unsuitable for sheep; horses of a small breed are used to some extent. The chief industrial establishments are those for the decortication of rice at Saigon and Cholon; they are in the hands of the Chinese, by whom most of the trade in the colony is conducted. Sugar-making, the distillation of rice-spirit, silk-weaving, fishing and the preparation of a fish-sauce (nuoc-mam) made from decayed fish, and the manufacture of salt from sea-water and of lime are carried on in many localities.

Commerce.—Rice is the chief article of export, dried or salted fish, pepper and cotton ranking next in order of value. Imports include woven goods, metals, ironware, machinery, tea, wines and spirits, mineral oils, opium, paper, and arms and powder. The ports of Saigon and Mytho are accessible to the largest vessels, and are connected by a railway (see Indo-China, French). The roadsteads of Rach-Gia, Ca-Mau, and Ha-Tien can accommodate only vessels of low tonnage. In 1905 exports

  1. See also Indo-China, French; and Annam.