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What Was French Indochina?


The French colonized Indochina, including Cambodia, for more than 50 years.

Tourists visit Angkor Wat, in French Indochina (now Cambodia), 1931

Apic / Getty Images

French Indochina was the French colonial regions of Southeast Asia. During the colonial era, French Indochina was made up of Cochin-China, Annam, Cambodia, Tonkin, Kwangchowan, and Laos. Today, the same region is the divided into the nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

The French took power in the area, and established a federation called French Indochina in 1887. The Japanese Empire invaded French Indochina in 1941, and the Nazi-allied French Vichy government handed over Indochina to Japan. During their occupation, some Japanese military officials encouraged nationalism and independence movements in the region.

When the Second World War ended, France expected the other Allied Powers to return its Indochinese colonies to its control. The people of Indochina, however, had different ideas, and this difference of opinion led to the Vietnam War and the creation of three independent nations in Southeast Asia.

Also Known As: Union Indochinoise, Indochinese Union, Lien bang Dong Du'ong

"After World War II, the colonized peoples of French Indochina were in no mood to accept France's renewed claims to their countries."

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