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Indochina countries: fascinating facts about Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

From the origins of the Indochina name to the geographical phenomena in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, discover some of the most fascinating facts about the Indochina countries. 

Former French colonies
Indochina countries are strictly described as being the countries of the former French colonies, which were Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. However, some people see Indochina countries as being other surrounding countries that have influence from India and China, including Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Former French colonies

Danish-French geographer
The term ‘Indochina’ is thought to have first been coined by the Danish-French geographer, Conrad Malte-Brun. He referred to the area as ‘indo-chinois’ in 1804. Malte-Brun is most famous for the naming of the geographic region, Oceania.

Baguettes
The influence of the French is still apparent in all Indochina countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia today. As well as French-inspired architecture and the teaching of French in schools, perhaps the most obvious is the prevalence of baguette shops in cities in all three countries!

Hanoi Opera House

Miles of coastline
The easternmost of the official Indochina countries, Vietnam has a coastline that stretches for more than 2,000 miles (3,260km). That’s the length of more than 32,000 football pitches!

Miles of coastline in Vietnam

Landlocked
Laos on the other hand, is the only landlocked country in the whole of Southeast Asia. It doesn’t feel like it though. The immense Mekong River runs all the way through the country (more than 1,000 miles or 1,900km).

Mekong River in Laos

What’s in a name
The last of the Indochina countries is known as Cambodia – but this is not actually the official name of the country. The official name is Preah Reacheanachak Kampuchea. The French translated ‘Kampuchea’ to ‘Cambodge’. In turn, the English translated it to ‘Cambodia’. Cambodians unofficially call their country either Kampuchea or Srok Khmer (‘Khmer’s Land’).

Indochina countries: fascinating facts about Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia


Explore the fascinating roots and modern day of the Indochina countries by joining us on a multi-country trip taking in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
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