1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Indo-China, French

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INDO-CHINA, FRENCH (see 14.490). The French Indo-Chinese Union comprises the following areas:—

Cochin-China,  pop. (1921) 3,795,613    capital Saigon (83,000 inhabitants)
Tongking pop. 6,100,000 capital Hanoi (120,000)
Annam pop. 4,800,000 capital Hué
Cambodia pop. 1,500,000 capital Pnom-Penh
Laos pop. 500,000 capital Luang-Prabang
Kwangchow Wan Territory, 150,000 inhabitants.

There were in 1914 1,273 m. of railway open and 154 m. under construction, less than half of the minimum required to satisfy the essential needs of the colony. The deficiency was made up by regular services in every part of the country having navigable waterways. In 1918 there entered Indo-Chinese ports 2,219 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,376,347; there left 2,087 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,222,935, — a total of 4,600,000 tons.

The wealth of Indo-China springs chiefly from rice. The crop is annual in Cambodia, Cochin-China, and the southern part of Annam, and bi-annual in Tongking and the northern part of Annam. The rice-fields covered about 4,700,000 hectares in 1920, in which year the crop amounted to 4,500,000 tons. Indo-China is, after Burma, the second rice-exporting country of the world; in 1918 she exported 1,600,000 tons and in 1919 966,865 tons, valued at 567,678,000 francs. Export is chiefly to China, Japan, and the Philippines, but shipments to Europe, and especially France, were increasing. The sugar-cane is found in almost all parts of Indo-China, especially in Annam, and production showed considerable development. The exportation of sugar has doubled since 1913, and amounted to 7,718 tons, of a value of 9,202,000 fr., in 1919. The coconut-palm is common everywhere save in Tongking. Cotton flourishes in Cambodia, and plantations in other parts of the country are satisfactory. The forests, not yet fully explored, are immense, covering the major part of the mountainous regions, and including a singularly large number of species of trees.

Indo-China is rich in coal, which makes it exceptional among French colonies. The principal deposits are in Tongking, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Bay of Along (region of Honghai). The total production, including lignite, which is found in numerous beds, was in 1918 636,000 tons.

There is much iron, mainly haematite, but it is not exploited. On the other hand, the zinc of Tongking is being more and more developed (production: 33,438 tons in 1913). The most important industries of the country are those derived from rice — rice-mills, and distilleries preparing a spirit largely consumed by the Annamites.

The general commerce of Indo-China attained in 1919 the figure of 1,841,966,000 fr., of which 791,073,000 fr. were imports and 1,050,893,000 were exports. France, by reason of difficulties in marine transport, stood for little in these exports, the greater part of which went to Hong-Kong and Singapore, and some to China and Great Britain. The figures for general commerce in 1918 were only 817,687,000 fr. total, of which 363,383,000 fr. were imports and 454,304,000 exports; but the fluctuations in the value of money must be allowed for. In any case, the figures for 1918 represented an increase of 14,132,000 fr. over the previous year, and a surplus of 148,132,000 over the average for the five years 1913-7. In 1913, the last normal year before the war, the general commerce amounted to 650,591,000 francs. (M. R.*)