Annam, a historic region on the eastern coast of Indochina, now central Vietnam. In the fourth century B.C., the ancestors of the Vietnamese were driven from southern China to the upper Indochinese Peninsula. The kingdom of Nam Viet was established about 207 B.C. In the following century, the Chinese overran the kingdom. The Vietnamese regained their independence in the 10th century A.D. and founded the kingdom of Dai Viet, although China's overlordship was recognized.

In the late 15th century, Annam, as Dai Viet had come to be known, conquered most of Champa to the south, eventually becoming the dominant power in the area. In 1802 the Nguyen dynasty gained the throne, with French aid, and soon the Annamite Empire controlled all the territory east and south of Siam (now Thailand). Attacks on European missionaries led to French military intervention in the second half of the 19th century. In 1884 Annam was made a French protectorate. In 1887 it became part of the French-supervised Indochinese Union (French Indochina), which included Tonkin, Cochin China, Laos, and Cambodia. Unsuccessful revolts against French control occurred in the decades that followed.

During World War II, Indochina was occupied by the Japanese. At the end of the war, France's attempt to reimpose its rule was resisted. An independent republic of Vietnam was proclaimed, and war with France resulted in 1946.