Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s busy capital, sits at the junction of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. It was a hub for both the Khmer Empire and French colonialists. On its walkable riverfront, lined with parks, restaurants and bars, are the ornate Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, displaying artifacts from around the country. At the city’s heart is the massive, art deco Central Market. Phnom Penh is in the south-central region of Cambodia and is fully surrounded by Kandal Province. The municipality is on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac Rivers. These rivers provide freshwater and other natural resources to the city.
Historical, Cultural facts & Religion
Legend has it that the city of Phnom Penh was founded when an old woman named Penh found four Buddha images that had come to rest on the banks of the Mekong River. She housed them on a nearby hill, and the town that grew up here came to be known as Phnom Penh (Hill of Penh). Throughout nearly two millennia, Cambodians developed a unique Khmer belief from the syncretism of indigenous animistic beliefs and the Indian religions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Indian culture and civilization, including its language and arts, reached mainland Southeast Asia around the 1st century AD. Buddhism is the official religion of Cambodia. Approximately 97% of Cambodia’s population follows Theravada Buddhism, with Islam, Christianity, and tribal animism making up the bulk of the small remainder.
Brief City History
Legend has it that the city of Phnom Penh was founded when an old woman named Penh found four Buddha images that had come to rest on the banks of the Mekong River. She housed them on a nearby hill, and the town that grew up here came to be known as Phnom Penh (Hill of Penh).In the 1430s, Angkor was abandoned and Phnom Penh was chosen as the site of the new Cambodian capital. Angkor was poorly situated for trade and subject to attacks from the Siamese (Thai) kingdom of Ayuthaya. Phnom Penh commanded a more central position in the Khmer territories and was perfectly located for riverine trade with Laos and China via the Mekong Delta. By the mid-16th century, trade had turned Phnom Penh into a regional power. Indonesian and Chinese traders were drawn to the city in large numbers. A century later, however, the landlocked and increasingly isolated kingdom had become little more than a buffer between the ascendant Thais and Vietnamese, until the French took over in 1863. The French protectorate in Cambodia gave Phnom Penh the layout we know today. They divided the city into districts or quartiers – the French and European traders inhabited the area north of Wat Phnom between Monivong Blvd and Tonlé Sap. By the time the French departed in 1953, they had left many important landmarks, including the Royal Palace, the National Museum, Psar Thmei (Central Market) and many impressive government ministries. The city grew fast in the post-independence peacetime years of Norodom Sihanouk’s rule: by the time he was overthrown in 1970, the population of Phnom Penh was approximately 500,000. As the Vietnam War spread into Cambodian territory, the city’s population swelled with refugees and reached nearly three million in early 1975. The Khmer Rouge took the city on 17 April 1975, and as part of its radical revolution immediately forced the entire population into the countryside. Whole families were split up on those first fateful days of ‘liberation’.
During the time of Democratic Kampuchea, many tens of thousands of former Phnom Penhois – including the vast majority of the capital’s educated residents – were killed. The population of Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge regime was never more than about 50,000, a figure made up of senior party members, factory workers and trusted military leaders. Repopulation of the city began when the Vietnamese arrived in 1979, although at first it was strictly controlled by the new government. During much of the 1980s, cows were more common than cars on the streets of the capital. The 1990s were boom years for some: along with the arrival of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (Untac) came US$2 billion (much of it in salaries for ex-pats). Phnom Penh has really begun to change in the last two decades, with roads being repaired, sewage pipes laid, parks inaugurated and riverbanks reclaimed. Business is booming in many parts of the city, where skyscrapers are sprouting like beanstalks and investors rubbing their hands with the sort of glee once reserved for Bangkok or Hanoi. Phnom Penh is back, and bigger changes are set to come.
Language (s) Written & Spoken
Cambodia has a single official language which is Khmer. It is spoken by nearly 90% of the country’s population. The language is used in government administration, imparting education at all levels, media, etc. After the Vietnamese language, Khmer is also the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language.
Important Types of Commerce in Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s two largest industries are textiles and tourism, while agricultural activities remain the main source of income for many Cambodians living in rural areas. The service sector is heavily concentrated on trading activities and catering-related services.
Language Services US and others will provide working with Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh has been in a trade relationship with several countries. Because of such close relations, the necessity to learn and understand the Khmer language has increased in importance over the years. This developed the need for Khmer translators and interpreters. Moreover, for businesses planning to tap into Phnom Penh, in order to maximize the voice of your brand and help them to reach a new Khmer-speaking audience with enormous marketing opportunities in the global market, the next step is to partner with a professional translation and interpretation company.
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