Historic kingdom, central Vietnam. The area was conquered c. 200 BC by the Chinese, who gave it its name (which has never been used by the indigenous inhabitants). It became independent in the 15th century AD, opening the way for steady Vietnamese movement toward the Mekong River delta. When Vietnam was united in 1802, the city of Hue became the capital, and the area was ruled by the emperor of Annam. Central Vietnam gradually came under French control in the 19th century; it became a protectorate in 1883–85, leaving the court at Hue with only nominal power. The area was partitioned between North and South Vietnam in 1954; Annam's last emperor had abdicated in 1945 but served as Vietnam's chief of state from 1949 until shortly after partition.