Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Preprints, Working Papers, ...

Malaria, Colonial Economics and Migrations in Vietnam

Abstract : This paper will explore the evolution of the colonial views on the connection between malaria and environment in Vietnam, notably in relation to the different populations who live there. The colonization of Vietnam by the French introduced a major shift: the change of migration direction. From the 14th century on, the “Viêt” or “Kinh”, the major ethnic group in Vietnam, originally concentrated in the Red River delta, migrated to the south to colonize new lowlands, where they could reproduce their agricultural system and social organization. There were several reasons why they did not migrate to the northern and central highlands, where numerous other ethnic groups lived : the topography, the poor quality of the soil in some areas, and finally the fear of “wood fever” which they attributed to the “evils” of the waters.
When the French occupied the country, they soon discovered that the territory could indeed be divided into 2 areas : the deltas and coastal plains, which were densely populated and virtually unaffected by malaria, and the mountainous and wooded territories, which were sparsely cultivated and heavily affected by severe malaria. From the beginning of the 20th century, the politics of economic development led to the movement masses of workers towards uncleared regions. To perform their “civilizing mission”, the clearing up of unhealthy areas, the French appealed mainly to the plains Vietnamese, considered more advanced than the “primitive” people, or “Mois”, of the highlands.
Although these population shifts quickly had dramatic consequences for malaria epidemiology, scientific works aiming to fully understand the particular ecology of vectors in the region were late in coming. Only in the 1930s, the scientific works began to emphasize the importance of migrations and of environmental changes in the malaria statistics, which will be re-examine in this paper, as well as the control strategies.
The French did not really succeed in creating Vietnamese colonies in the newly exploited areas, such as the big rubber plantations located in the “red lands” of Cochinchina and the high plateaus of Annam. But besides the wars which intensified the population movements, Vietnamese migration towards the highlands is now a well-established demographic fact. This will lead to a brief conclusion on the present malaria situation.
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Annick Guénel <>
Submitted on : Friday, March 16, 2007 - 11:09:21 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 6:14:46 PM
Document(s) archivé(s) le : Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - 2:59:52 AM


Files produced by the author(s)


  • HAL Id : halshs-00136981, version 1



Annick Guénel. Malaria, Colonial Economics and Migrations in Vietnam. 2004. ⟨halshs-00136981⟩



Record views


Files downloads