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491
INDO-CHINA, FRENCH


by night. This is the dry season. From the 15th of April to the 15th of October the monsoon reverses, and blows from the south-west. The season of daily rains and tornadoes commences. The temperature rises from 80.6° to 84.2°, at which it remains day and night. April and May are the hottest months (from 86° to 93.2°). The damp unwholesome heat sometimes produces dysentery and cholera. The climate of Annam is less regular. The north-easterly monsoon, which is “the ocean-wind,” brings the rains in September. The north-easterly gales lower the temperature below 59°. September is the month in which the typhoon blows. During the dry season—June, July and August—the thermometer oscillates between 86° and 95°. The nights, however, are comparatively cool. Tongking has a winter season—October to May. The temperature, lowered by fog and the rains, does not rise above 75.2° and descends to 50° over the delta, and to 44.6° and even 42.8° in the highlands, where white frost is occasionally seen. The summer, on the other hand, is scorching. The wind veers to the south-east and remains there until October. The temperature rises to over 83°; often it reaches and continues for several days at 95° or even more. The nights are distressingly airless. The Laos country in the interior and lying at a high altitude is cooler and drier. Its deep valleys and high hills vary its climate.

Fauna and Flora.—From the populous cultivated districts wild animals, once plentiful, have retired towards the wooded and mountainous districts. The wild life of Laos includes fairly numerous herds of elephants, the rhinoceros (one- and two-horned; rhinoceros horn is employed as a “medicine”), tiger, panther, brown bear, tree-bear, monkeys and rats, among which are the musk rat, the palm rat and the nu-khi, or rat found in the rice-fields of the highlands, in which its ravages are considerable. In mountain districts the leopard, wild boar and deer are found, and in the neighbourhood of habitations the tiger-cat and ichneumon. The buffalo is commonly found wild in Laos; as a domesticated animal it also holds a prominent place. The zebu bull is used for transport purposes. Attempts to acclimatize the Arab horse and to introduce sheep from Aden and China have failed. There is, however, an indigenous race of horses, excellent in spite of their small size—the horses of Phu-Yen. Among birds the woodcock, peacock and numerous species of duck inhabit the woods and marshes. The goose and guinea-fowl appear, as also the turkey, to have become easily acclimatized. Reptiles (apart from the caimans of the Mekong, which attain a length of over 30 ft., and are much appreciated by the Annamese as food) are extremely numerous and varied in species. The rivers are rich in fish. The sole is found in the rivers of Tongking. The Mekong is fished for two species peculiar to it—the pa-beuk and the pa-leun, which attain a length of nearly 6 ft. All varieties of mosquitoes, ants and leeches combine to render the forests bordering the Mekong impracticable. Peculiar species of grubs and caterpillars destroy the cotton and coffee plantations of Cochin-China. The silkworm may be said to be indigenous in Tongking, where there are several thousand acres of mulberry trees.

The flora is inter-tropical, and comprises nearly all the trees known in China and Japan. The bamboo is utilized in building and a variety of other ways. Formerly the teak was believed not to exist in the forests of Indo-China, but it was found some years ago in considerable abundance, and plantations of it have been made. Certain hard woods are used for marqueterie and other ornamental work. Rubber is also exploited. Cotton, previously cultivated in Cochin-China and Cambodia, gives excellent results in Laos. Tea, of which there are a certain number of plantations in the highlands of Tongking and Annam, grows wild in Upper Laos, and in quality closely resembles the Pou-eurl or Pueul variety noted in Yun-nan. Cocoa, coffee and cotton are cultivated in Tongking and Cambodia. Cinnamon and cardamoms are gathered in Laos and Annam. Ground nuts, sesame, sugar canes, pepper, jute, tobacco and indigo are also grown. The area under rice, which is incomparably the most important crop, is approximately 1,750,000 acres. All European fruits and vegetables have been introduced into Tongking, and with certain exceptions—the grape, for example—succeed perfectly. Measures taken to secure the monopoly of opium have notably increased the cultivation of the poppy.

People.—The population of French Indo-China falls into five chief divisions—the Annamese, forming the bulk of the population in Annam, Tongking and Cochin-China and four-fifths of that of the whole country; the Khmers or Cambodians; the Chams of southern Annam; the Thais, including the Laotians; and the autochthonous tribes classed by the other inhabitants as Mois or Khas (“savages”). Driven into the interior by the now dominant races, these older people have mixed and blended with the peoples whom they found there, and new tribes have arisen, intermingled with fugitives from China, Annam and even Siam. In the north of Tongking people of Laos origin occur—the Thos* round Kaobang, the Muongs in the mountains bordering the Red river. When mixed with Chinese the Muongs and the Thos* are known as the Hung-dans, Mans* and Miens. The Muongs are bigger and stronger than the Annamese, their eyes often almost straight. They have square foreheads, large faces and prominent cheekbones. In the centre and south of the Indo-Chinese mountain chain are found, under a multiplicity of names—Phon-tays, Souis, Bah-nan, Bolovens, Stiengs, Mors, Kongs, &c.—people of Malayan origin mixed with all the races of Indo-China. Laos is inhabited by an essentially miscellaneous population—falling into three main groups—the Thais; various aboriginal peoples classed as Khas; and the Moos and Yaos, tribes of Chinese origin.

Religions.—The Annamese religion is a somewhat vague and very tolerant Buddhism, which in practice resolves itself chiefly into the worship of ancestors. Certain ceremonies performed in Cambodia resemble distantly the Brahminical cult. The Roman Catholic religion has been introduced by missionaries. The course of its history has not been free from catastrophes and accidents. There is an apostolical vicariate in Cochin-China, one in Cambodia and several mission stations in Tongking. Two of these missions are mainly conducted by Spanish priests.

Administration.—Before taking its present form the governmental organization of Indo-China underwent many changes. Originally Cochin-China, the only French possession in the peninsula, was a colony directly administered, like other colonies, by the ministry of marine, and its earliest governors were admirals. Later, as further conquests were effected, Tongking and Cambodia were subjected to the régime of a protectorate somewhat ill-defined, and placed under the authority of residents-general. The seat of the resident-general of Tongking was at Hanoi; of Cambodia, at Pnom-Penh. The government of the colonies having been transferred (1889) from the ministry of marine to the ministry of commerce, and in 1894 to the newly created ministry of the colonies, the control of the residencies passed gradually into the hands of civil agents. Cochin-China, which already by the decree of the 8th of February 1880 had been endowed with a colonial council, had a municipality, a chamber of commerce, and even a deputy in the French parliament. There had thus been three distinct states, each with its own ruler and government. But by the decrees of the 17th of October and the 3rd of November 1887 the unity of Indo-China was determined. By decree of October the post of director of the interior of Cochin-China was done away with and replaced by that of lieutenant-governor under the immediate authority of a governor-general. The functions and powers of the latter official were, however, but vaguely defined before the decree of the 21st of April 1891, which conferred on M J. M. A. de Lanessan, appointed governor-general, the most extensive powers. The residents-general of Tongking, Annam and Cambodia, and the lieutenant-governor of Cochin-China, as well as the military authorities, were placed under him. But this change of policy, which put an end to the system of expeditions and minor military operations, and restricted the power of the residents whilst restoring to the mandarins a share of authority, was unwelcome to numerous interests, which, combining, secured the abrupt recall of M de Lanessan on the 29th of December 1894. The decree of the 21st of April 1891 was not, however, revoked, but the powers it conferred were restricted. After the appointment of M Doumer, successor to M Rousseau, who died on the 10th of December 1896, this decree was again put in force on the former scale, and in 1898 it was supplemented by the decrees of the 3rd and 31st of July, which definitely established the political and financial unity of Indo-China. The governor-general is the sole intermediary between the Indo-Chinese Union and the home government, the powers of which, with few restrictions, are delegated to him. As supreme administrative and military authority, he directly controls the civil services, and, though prohibited from commanding in the field, disposes of the land and sea forces in the country. His diplomatic negotiations with foreign powers must be carried on under the authorization and surveillance of the home authorities. The governor-general is assisted by the Superior Council of Indo-China, which meets