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Peninsulas of Asia
Countries Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
Map showing the location of the Indochina on a map of Southeast Asia.
Indochina: Dark green: always included, Light green: usually included, Red: sometimes included.
Indochinese Region (biology): Dark and Light green.
Topographic map of Indochina
Topographical map of Indochina
Indochina 1886

Indochina or Indo-China is a peninsula in Southeast Asia1 lying roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French Indochine as a combination of the names of "India" and "China", referring to the location of the territory between those two countries, though the majority of people in the region are neither Chinese nor Indian. The term may also be used in biogeography for the "Indochinese Region", a major biogeographical region within the Indomalaya ecozone.

The countries of mainland Southeast Asia received cultural influence from both India and China to varying degrees.1 Some cultures, such as those of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand are influenced mainly by India with a smaller influence from China. Others, such as Vietnam, are more heavily influenced by Chinese culture with only minor cultural influences from India, largely via the Champa civilization that Vietnam conquered during its southward expansion.

The historical term French Indochina was a federation of French colonies and protectorates, respectively the three Vietnamese "Ky" of Cochinchina, Tonkin, and Annam, plus Laos and Cambodia. France had a colonial presence in the region between 1862 and 1954. France withdrew from southeast Asia following the loss of the Indochina War in 1954.

French Indochina had boundaries designed by France as a result of 19th century explorations led by French missionaries, scientists, civil servants and diplomats such as Henri Mouhot and Auguste Pavie and by French Navy officers such as Ernest Doudard de Lagrée and Francis Garnier, and, subsequently, of military conquests and political agreements by France in the greater region, encompassing countries that are now modern Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

The subjects of the colony were not homogenous; rather, Indochina was a "separate entity, it was largely unrelated to the cultural, geographical, and racial elements which shaped the people and governments of its constituent parts".2 However, the overall shape of the French Indochina greater colony was signicantly influenced by key geographical factors (such as the Mekong river which was a focus of French exploration and which crosses all three countries) as well as by the political entities which existed at the time of French colonization, i.e. the empire or kingdoms of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as those of adjacent China and Thailand with which France had to negotiate various border agreements with respect to French Indochina.


The former historical territories of French Indochina comprise the following:

The broader geographic and cultural region otherwise known as Mainland Southeast Asia further includes:


Although the name "Indochina" is today mostly a political anachronism, it is still sometimes used to refer to the "Indochinese Region" to mean a major biogeographical region in the Indomalaya ecozone, and also a phytogeographical floristic region in the Paleotropical Kingdom. It includes the native flora and fauna of all the countries above. The adjacent Malesian Region covers the Maritime Southeast Asian countries, and straddles the Indomalaya and Australasian ecozones.

See also

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  1. ^ a b Marion Severynse, ed. (1997). The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary Of Geography. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-86448-8. 
  2. ^ St. John, Robert Bruce (1998). Clive H. Schofield, ed. The land boundaries of Indochina: Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (Boundary and territory briefing ed.). IBRU. p. 1. ISBN 9781897643327. 

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