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Khmer people ( km, ជនជាតិខ្មែរ, ) are a
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
n
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousn ...
native to
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
. They comprise over 90% of Cambodia's population of 17 million.Cambodia
CIA World FactBook.
They speak the
Khmer language Khmer (; , ) is an Austroasiatic language The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and southern China. T ...

Khmer language
, which is part of the larger Austroasiatic-language family found in parts of
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
(including
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
and
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...

Laos
), parts of central, eastern, and northeastern India, parts of
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
in
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
, in parts of
Southern China Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate regions within China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most ...
and numerous islands in the Indian Ocean. The majority of the Khmers follow the orders of
Dhammayuttika Nikaya Dhammayuttika Nikaya (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' and is the sacred language of '' ...
and
Maha Nikaya The Mahā Nikāya (literal translation: "great order") is one of the two principal monastic orders, or fraternities, of modern Thai and Cambodian Buddhism. The term is used to refer to any Theravada monks not within the Dhammayuttika Nikaya, the ...
of
Theravada Theravāda (; , lit. "School of the ", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of 's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Th ...
Buddhism. Significant populations of Khmers reside in adjacent areas of
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
( Northern Khmer) and the
Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta ( vi, Đồng bằng Sông Cửu Long, literally ''Nine Dragon river delta'' or simply vi, Đồng Bằng Sông Mê Kông, "Mekong river delta"), also known as the Western Region ( vi, Miền Tây) or South-western region ( vi ...

Mekong Delta
region of neighboring
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
(
Khmer Krom The Khmer Krom ( km, ជនជាតិខ្មែរក្រោម, , , lit. 'Lower Khmers' or 'Southern Khmers'; vi, người Khơ-me Crộm, người Khmer Nam Bộ, người Khmer Việt Nam, người Việt gốc Miên (used before 1975)) ...
), while there are over one million Khmers in the Khmer diaspora living mainly in France, the United States, and Australia.


Distribution


Cambodia

The majority of the world's Khmers live in Cambodia, the population of which is over 90% Khmers.


Thailand and Vietnam

There are also significant Khmer populations native to
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
and
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
. In Thailand, there are over one million Khmers (known as the
Khmer Surin Northern Khmer ( km, ខ្មែរខាងជើង, ), also called Surin Khmer ( km, ខ្មែរសុរិន្ទ្រ, ), is the dialect of the Khmer language spoken by approximately 1.4 million Khmers native to the Thailand, Thai pr ...
), mainly in Surin (''Sorin''),
Buriram Buriram (, , , 'city of happiness') is a town (''thesaban mueang'') in Thailand, capital of Buriram Province, about 300 km northeast of Bangkok. The town occupies ''tambon'' Nai Mueang of Mueang Buriram District. In 2012 it had a population ...
(''Borei Rom'') and
Sisaket ) , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , leader_title3 = , leader_name3 = , leader_title4 ...
(''Srei Saket'') provinces. Estimates for the number of the Khmers in Vietnam (known as the
Khmer Krom The Khmer Krom ( km, ជនជាតិខ្មែរក្រោម, , , lit. 'Lower Khmers' or 'Southern Khmers'; vi, người Khơ-me Crộm, người Khmer Nam Bộ, người Khmer Việt Nam, người Việt gốc Miên (used before 1975)) ...
) vary from the 1.3 million given by government data to 7 million advocated by the
Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation The Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF)The content about KKF in this page is extracted from the book"The Khmer-Krom Journey to Self-Determination"- Published by KKF - with the permission from KKF. is an organization self-declared representing ...
.


Western nations

Due to migration as a result of the
Cambodian Civil War The Cambodian Civil War ( km, សង្គ្រាមស៊ីវិលកម្ពុជា) was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign stat ...
and
Cambodian Genocide The Cambodian genocide ( km, ហាយនភាពខ្មែរ or ) was the systematic persecution and killing of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge The Khmer Rouge (, ; km, ខ្មែរក្រហម, ; " Red Khmers") is the name th ...
, there is a large Khmer diaspora residing in the United States, Canada, Australia and France.


History


Origin myths

According to one Khmer legend attributed by
George Coedes George may refer to: People * George (given name) George (in English or in Romanian) is a masculine given name derived from the Greek language, Greek Georgios, Geōrgios (; ). The name gained popularity due to its association with the Christia ...
to a tenth century inscription, the Khmers arose from the union of the
brahmin Brahmin (; sa, ब्राह्मण, brāhmaṇa) are a varna Varna may refer to: Places Europe * Varna, Bulgaria, a large city in Bulgaria. ** Varna Province **Varna Municipality **Gulf of Varna **Lake Varna *Vahrn, or Varna, a muni ...

brahmin
Kambu Swayambhuva and the
apsara An apsara, also spelled as apsaras (respective plurals apsaras and apsarases), is a type of female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu mythology, Hindu and Culture of Buddhism, Buddhist culture. They figure prominently in the sculpture, ...

apsara
("celestial nymph") Mera. Their marriage is said to have given rise to the name ''Khmer'' and founded the
Varman dynasty The Varman dynasty (350-650) was the first historical dynasty of the Kamarupa kingdom. It was established by Pushyavarman, a contemporary of Samudragupta. The earlier Varmans were subordinates of the Gupta Empire, but as the power of the Guptas ...
of ancient Cambodia. A more popular legend, reenacted to this day in the traditional Khmer wedding ceremony and taught in elementary school, holds that Cambodia was created when an Indian Brahmin priest named
Kaundinya I Kaundinya I ( Khmer: កៅណ្ឌិន្យ, Odia: କୌଣ୍ଡିନ୍ୟ, Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the ...
(commonly referred to as '' Preah Thong'') married Princess
Soma South of Market (SoMa) is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Fr ...
, a
Nāga The Nāga (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific ...

Nāga
(''Neang Neak'') princess. Kaundinya sailed to Southeast Asia following an arrow he saw in a dream. Upon arrival he found an island called ''Kok Thlok'' and, after conquering Soma's Naga army, he fell in love with her. As a dowry, the father of princess Soma drank the waters around the island, which was revealed to be the top of a mountain, and the land below that was uncovered became Cambodia. Kaundinya and Soma and their descendants became known as the Khmers and are said to have been the rulers of
Funan Funan (; km, ហ៊្វូណន, ; vi, Phù Nam, Chu Han During ancient times, the ancestors of the Vietnamese people, Vietnamese were considered to have been Proto-Austroasiatic (also called ''Proto-Mon–Khmer'') speaking people, pos ...
,
Chenla Chenla or Zhenla (; km, wikt:ចេនឡា, ចេនឡា, ; vi, wikt:Chân Lạp, Chân Lạp) is the Chinese designation for the successor polity of the kingdom of Funan preceding the Khmer Empire that existed from around the late six ...
and the
Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer Empire
. This myth further explains why the oldest Khmer , or temples, were always built on mountaintops, and why today mountains themselves are still revered as holy places.


Arrival in Southeast Asia

The Khmers, an Austroasiatic people, are one of the oldest ethnic groups in the area, having filtered into Southeast Asia from southern China, possibly
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
, around the same time as the Mon, who settled further to the west and to whom the Khmer are ancestrally related. Most archaeologists and linguists, and other specialists like Sinologists and crop experts, believe that they arrived no later than 2000 BCE (over four thousand years ago) bringing with them the practice of agriculture and in particular the cultivation of
rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was relea ...

rice
. This region is also one of the first places in the world to use
bronze Bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appear ...
. They were the builders of the later
Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer Empire
, which dominated Southeast Asia for six centuries beginning in 802, and now form the mainstream of political, cultural, and economic Cambodia. The Khmers developed the Khmer alphabet, which in turn gave birth to the later
Thai Thai or THAI may refer to: * Of or from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia ** Thai people, the dominant ethnic group of Thailand ** Thai language, a Tai-Kadai language spoken mainly in and around Thailand *** Thai script *** Thai (Unicode block) ...
and
Lao alphabet Lao script or Akson Lao ( Lao: ອັກສອນລາວ ) is the primary script used to write the Lao language and other minority languages in Laos. It was also used to write the Isan language, but was replaced by the Thai script. It has ...
s. The Khmers are considered by
archaeologists Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique h ...
and
ethnologists Ethnology (from the grc-gre, ἔθνος, meaning 'nation') is an academic field that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationships between them (compare cultural anthropology, cultural, social anthropolog ...
to be indigenous to the contiguous regions of
Isan Northeast Thailand or Isan (Isan language, Isan/ th, อีสาน, ; lo, ອີສານ; also written as Isaan, Isarn, Issarn, Issan, Esan, or Esarn; from Pali ''īsānna'' or Sanskrit ईशान्य ''īśānya'' "northeast") consist ...
, southern
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...

Laos
,
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
and
South Vietnam South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam (RVN; vi, Việt Nam Cộng Hòa; french: République du Viêt Nam), was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam , image_map ...
. That is to say the Cambodians have historically been a lowland people who lived close to one of the tributaries of the
Mekong River The Mekong or Mekong River is a trans-boundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rive ...

Mekong River
. The reason they migrated into Southeast Asia is not well understood, but scholars believe that
Austroasiatic The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and wri ...
speakers were pushed south by invading Tibeto-Burman speakers from the north as evident by Austroasiatic vocabulary in Chinese, because of agricultural purposes as evident by their migration routes along major rivers, or a combination of these and other factors. The Khmer are considered a part of Greater India, owing to them adopting Indian culture, traditions and religious identities. The first powerful trading kingdom in Southeast Asia, the
Kingdom of Funan Funan ( or , Chu Han: 夫南, km, ហ្វូណន, ; vi, Phù Nam) or Nokor Phnom ( km, នគរភ្នំ, , lit. 'Mountain Kingdom') was the name given by Chinese cartography, Chinese cartographers, geographers and writers to an a ...
, was established in southeastern Cambodia and the Mekong Delta in the first century, although extensive archaeological work in
Angkor Borei District Angkor Borei District ( km, ស្រុកអង្គរបូរី) is a district located in Takéo Province Takéo ( km, តាកែវ , lit. 'Crystal Grandfather') is a provinces of Cambodia, province (''khaet'') of Cambodia. Located i ...

Angkor Borei District
near the modern Vietnamese border has unearthed brickworks, canals, cemeteries and graves dating to the fifth century BCE. During the Funan period (1st century - sixth century CE) the Khmer also acquired Buddhism, the concept of the
Shaiva Shaivism (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the late . Sanskrit is the of , the langua ...
imperial cult An imperial cult is a form of state religion A state religion (also called an established religion or official religion) is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations ...
of the
devaraja "Devarāja" was the religious order of the "god-king", or Divinity, deified monarch in medieval Southeast Asia. The devarāja order grew out of both Hinduism and separate local traditions depending on the area. It taught that the monarch, king ...
and the great temple as a symbolic world mountain. The rival Khmer
Chenla Kingdom Chenla or Zhenla (; km, wikt:ចេនឡា, ចេនឡា, ; vi, wikt:Chân Lạp, Chân Lạp) is the Chinese designation for the successor polity of the kingdom of Funan preceding the Khmer Empire that existed from around the late sixt ...
emerged in the fifth century and later conquered the Kingdom of Funan. Chenla was an upland state whose economy was reliant on agriculture whereas Funan was a lowland state with an economy dependent on maritime trade. These two states, even after conquest by Chenla in the sixth century, were constantly at war with each other and smaller principalities. During the Chenla period (5th-8th century), Khmers left the world's earliest known
zero 0 (zero) is a number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and ...

zero
in one of their temple inscriptions. Only when King Jayavarman II declared an independent and united Cambodia in 802 was there relative peace between the two lands, upper and lowland Cambodia.
Jayavarman II Jayavarman II ( km, ជ័យវរ្ម័នទី២; c. 770 – 835) (reigned c. 802–835) was a 9th-century king of Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country ...
(802–830), revived Khmer power and built the foundation for the Khmer Empire, founding three capitals— Indrapura, Hariharalaya, and Mahendraparvata—the archeological remains of which reveal much about his times. After winning a long civil war,
Suryavarman I Suryavarman I ( km, សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី១; posthumously ''Nirvanapada'') was king of the Khmer Empire from 1006 to 1050. Suryavarman usurped King Udayadityavarman I, defeating his armies in approximately 1002. After a protrac ...
(reigned 1002–1050) turned his forces eastward and subjugated the Mon kingdom of
Dvaravati The Dvaravati ( th, ทวารวดี ) period lasted from around the 6th to the 11th century. Dvaravati refers to a culture, an art style, and a disparate conglomeration of principalities of Mon people. Archaeological research over the past t ...
. Consequently, he ruled over the greater part of present-day Thailand and Laos, as well as the northern half of the Malay Peninsula. This period, during which
Angkor Wat Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple city/city of temples") is the largest religious structure (temple complex) in the world by land area, measuring , located in Cambodia. Originally constructed as a personal mausoleum for ...

Angkor Wat
was constructed, is considered the apex of Khmer civilization.


Khmer Empire (802–1431)

The Khmer kingdom became the
Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer Empire
and the great temples of Angkor, considered an archeological treasure replete with detailed stone bas-reliefs showing many aspects of the culture, including some musical instruments, remain as monuments to the culture of the Cambodia. After the death of
Suryavarman II Suryavarman II ( km, សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី២), posthumously named Paramavishnuloka, was a Khmer king from 1113 AD to 1145/1150 AD and the builder of Angkor Wat Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple cit ...

Suryavarman II
(1113–50), Cambodia lapsed into chaos until
Jayavarman VII Jayavarman VII, posthumous name of Mahaparamasaugata ( km, ជ័យវរ្ម័នទី៧, c. 1122–1218), was king of the Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire (; km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ, ), or Angkor Empire ( km, ចក្ ...

Jayavarman VII
(1181–1218) ordered the construction of a new city. He was a Buddhist, and for a time, Buddhism became the dominant religion in Cambodia. As a state religion, however, it was adapted to suit the Deva Raja cult, with a Buddha Raja being substituted for the former Shiva Raja or Vishnu Raja. The rise of the Tai kingdoms of Sukhothai (1238) and Ayutthaya (1350) resulted in almost ceaseless wars with the Khmers and led to the destruction of Angkor in 1431. They are said to have carried off 90,000 prisoners, many of whom were likely dancers and musicians. The period following 1432, with the Khmer people bereft of their treasures, documents, and human culture bearers, was one of precipitous decline.


Post-empire (1431-present)

In 1434, King
Ponhea Yat Ponhea Yat ( km, ពញាយ៉ាត ; 1394–1463), also known as Barom Reachea II ( km, បរមរាជាទី២ ; th, บรมราชาธิราช, ), was the last king of the Khmer Empire. He dispatched Kun Si-li Ren-nong-la ...
made
Phnom Penh Phnom Penh (; km, ភ្នំពេញ, ; lit. "Penh's Hill") is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ...

Phnom Penh
his capital, and Angkor was abandoned to the jungle. Due to continued Siamese and Vietnamese aggression, Cambodia appealed to France for protection in 1863 and became a French protectorate in 1864. During the 1880s, along with southern Vietnam and Laos, Cambodia was drawn into the French-controlled Indochinese Union. For nearly a century, the French exploited Cambodia commercially, and demanded power over politics, economics, and social life. During the second half of the twentieth century, the political situation in Cambodia became chaotic. King
Norodom Sihanouk Norodom Sihanouk ( km, នរោត្តម សីហនុ, ; 31 October 192215 October 2012) was a Cambodia, Cambodian politician who led Cambodia in various capacities throughout his political career, but most often as the King of Cambodia. ...
(later, Prince, then again King), proclaimed Cambodia's independence in 1949 (granted in full in 1953) and ruled the country until March 18, 1970, when he was overthrown by General
Lon Nol Marshal Lon Nol ( km, លន់ នល់, also ; 13 November 1913 – 17 November 1985) was a Cambodian politician and general who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia twice (1966–67; 1969–71), as well as serving repeatedly as defence mi ...
, who established the Khmer Republic. On April 17, 1975,
Khmer Rouge The Khmer Rouge (; ; km, ខ្មែរក្រហម, ; "Red Red is the color at the long wavelength end of the visible spectrum of light, next to orange and opposite violet. It has a dominant wavelength Image:dominant wavelength ...
, who under the leadership of
Pol Pot Pol Pot; (born Saloth Sâr;; 19 May 1925 – 15 April 1998) was a Cambodian revolutionary and politician who governed Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a ...

Pol Pot
combined
Khmer nationalism Khmer nationalism or Cambodian nationalism ( km, ជាតិនិយម, ) is a form of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A nation is a community of people formed on the b ...
and extreme
Communism Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

Communism
, came to power and virtually destroyed the Cambodian people, their health, morality, education, physical environment, and culture in the
Cambodian genocide The Cambodian genocide ( km, ហាយនភាពខ្មែរ or ) was the systematic persecution and killing of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge The Khmer Rouge (, ; km, ខ្មែរក្រហម, ; " Red Khmers") is the name th ...
. On January 7, 1979, Vietnamese forces ousted the Khmer Rouge. After more than ten years of painfully slow rebuilding, with only meager outside help, the United Nations intervened resulting in the Paris Peace Accord on October 23, 1992, and created conditions for general elections in May 1993, leading to the formation of the current government and the restoration of Prince Sihanouk to power as King in 1993. The Khmer Rouge continued to control portions of western and northern Cambodia until the late 1990s, when they surrendered to government forces in exchange for either amnesty or re-adjustment for positions into the Cambodian government. In the 21st century, Cambodia's economy has grown faster than that of any other country in Asia except for
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...
and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...
. Today, post-conflict Cambodia exports over $5 billion worth of clothing, mainly to the United States and the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, is one of the top ten exporters of rice in the world, and has seen international tourist arrivals balloon from less than 150,000 in 2000 to over 4.2 million in 2013. Cambodia is no longer seen as being on the brink of disaster, a reputation it gained in the 1980s and 1990s as guerilla-style warfare was still being waged by the Khmer Rouge until their ceasefire in 1998. Cambodians in the diaspora are returning to their homeland to start businesses, and immigrant Western workers in fields as diverse as architecture, archaeology, philanthropy, banking, hospitality, agriculture, music, diplomacy and garments are increasingly attracted to Cambodia because of its relaxed lifestyle and traditional way of life.


Culture and society

The culture of the ethnic Khmers is fairly homogeneous throughout their geographic range. Regional dialects exist, but are mutually intelligible. The standard is based on the dialect spoken throughout the Central Plain,Huffman, Franklin. 1970.
Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Reader
'. Yale University Press.
a region encompassed by the northwest and central provinces. The varieties of Khmer spoken in this region are representative of the speech of the majority of the population. A unique and immediately recognizable dialect has developed in Phnom Penh that, due to the city's status as the national capital, has been modestly affected by recent French and Vietnamese influence. Other dialects are
Northern Khmer dialect Northern Khmer ( km, ខ្មែរខាងជើង, ), also called Surin Khmer ( km, ខ្មែរសុរិន្ទ្រ, ), is the dialect of the Khmer language Khmer (, ; , , or more formally , ) is the language of the Khmer pe ...
, called ''Khmer Surin'' by Khmers, spoken by over a million Khmer native to Northeast Thailand; and
Khmer Krom The Khmer Krom ( km, ជនជាតិខ្មែរក្រោម, , , lit. 'Lower Khmers' or 'Southern Khmers'; vi, người Khơ-me Crộm, người Khmer Nam Bộ, người Khmer Việt Nam, người Việt gốc Miên (used before 1975)) ...
spoken by the millions of Khmer native to the
Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta ( vi, Đồng bằng Sông Cửu Long, literally ''Nine Dragon river delta'' or simply vi, Đồng Bằng Sông Mê Kông, "Mekong river delta"), also known as the Western Region ( vi, Miền Tây) or South-western region ( vi ...

Mekong Delta
regions of Vietnam adjacent to Cambodia and their descendants abroad. A little-studied dialect known as Western Khmer, or Cardamom Khmer, is spoken by a small, isolated population in the Cardamom Mountain range extending from Cambodia into eastern Central Thailand. Although little studied, it is unique in that it maintains a definite system of
vocal register A vocal register is a range of tones in the human voice produced by a particular vibratory pattern of the vocal folds. These registers include modal voice (or normal voice), vocal fry, falsetto, and the whistle register. Registers originate in lar ...
that has all but disappeared in other dialects of modern Khmer. The modern Khmer strongly identify their ethnic identity with their religious beliefs and practices, which combine the tenets of Theravada Buddhism with elements of indigenous ancestor-spirit worship, animism and shamanism.''Faith Traditions in Cambodia''
; pg. 8; accessed August 21, 2006
Most Cambodians, whether or not they profess to be Buddhists (or Muslims), believe in a rich supernatural world. Several types of supernatural entities are believed to exist; they make themselves known by means of inexplicable sounds or happenings. Among these phenomena are (ghosts), (comes in many forms depending on their punishments) and (monsters) hese are usually the spirits of people who have died a violently, untimely, or unnatural deaths (evil spirits, devils),
krasue The ''Krasue'' ( th, กระสือ, ), known as ''Ahp'' ( km, អាប) in Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the ...
, (tutelary spirit or entity residing in inanimate objects; land, water, trees etc.), ទះ(house guardians), (ancestral spirits), and (little mischief spirit guardians dressed in red). All spirits must be shown proper respect, and, with the exception of the and , they can cause trouble ranging from mischief to serious life-threatening illnesses. The majority of the Cambodians live in rural villages either as rice farmers or fishermen. Their life revolves around the ''
Wat A wat ( km, វត្ត, ; lo, ວັດ, ; th, วัด, ; khb, 「ᩅᨯ᩠ᨰ」(waD+Dha); nod, 「ᩅ᩠ᨯ᩶」 (w+Da2)) is a type of Buddhist temple and Brahminical temple in Cambodia, Laos, East Shan State, Yunnan and Thailand. ...
'' (temple) and the various Buddhist ceremonies throughout the year. However, if Cambodians become ill, they will frequently see a (shaman/healer), whom they believe can diagnose which of the many spirits has caused the illness and recommend a course of action to propitiate the offended spirit, thereby curing the illness.
The is also learned in herb lore and is often sought to prepare various "medicines" and potions or for a magical tattoo, all believed to endow one with special prowess and ward off evil spirits or general bad luck. Khmer beliefs also rely heavily on
astrology Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divination, divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of Celestial objects in astrology, celestial objects. Astrology has be ...
, a remnant of Hinduism. A fortune teller, called (astrologists) or in Khmer, is often consulted before major events, like choosing a spouse, beginning an important journey or business venture, setting the date for a wedding and determining the proper location for building new structures. Throughout the year, the Cambodian celebrate many holidays, most of a religious or spiritual nature, some of which are also observed as
public holidays A public holiday, national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday A holiday is a day set aside by Norm (social), custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work including school, are suspended or reduced. Generally, holid ...
. The two most important are ''Chol Chhnam'' (
Cambodian New Year Cambodian New Year or Khmer New Year ( km, បុណ្យចូលឆ្នាំខ្មែរ, , ), also called Choul Chnam Thmey ( km, ចូលឆ្នាំថ្មី, , , lit. 'Enter the New Year'), is the traditional celebration of t ...
) and ''
Pchum Ben Pchum Ben ( km, បុណ្យភ្ជុំបិណ្ឌ, , meaning "Ancestors' Day") is a 15-day Cambodian religious festival, culminating in celebrations on the 15th day of the tenth month in the Khmer calendar, at the end of the Buddhist ...
'' ("Ancestor Day"). The Cambodian
Buddhist calendar The Buddhist calendar is a set of lunisolar calendar A lunisolar calendar is a calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A calenda ...
is divided into 12 months with the traditional new year beginning on the first day of , which coincides with the first
new moon In astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses ...

new moon
of April in the western calendar. The modern celebration has been standardized to coincide with April 13.
Cambodian culture . Throughout Cambodia's long history, religion has been a major source of cultural inspiration. Over nearly three millennia, Cambodians have developed a unique Cambodians, Cambodian culture and belief system from the syncreticism of indigenous ani ...
has influenced
Thai Thai or THAI may refer to: * Of or from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia ** Thai people, the dominant ethnic group of Thailand ** Thai language, a Tai-Kadai language spoken mainly in and around Thailand *** Thai script *** Thai (Unicode block) ...
and
Lao__NOTOC__ Lao may refer to: Laos * Something of, from, or related to Laos, a country in Southeast Asia * Lao people (people from Laos, or of Lao descent) * The Lao language * Lao script, the writing system used to write the Lao language ** Lao (Un ...
cultures and vice versa. Many Khmer loanwords are found in
Thai Thai or THAI may refer to: * Of or from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia ** Thai people, the dominant ethnic group of Thailand ** Thai language, a Tai-Kadai language spoken mainly in and around Thailand *** Thai script *** Thai (Unicode block) ...

Thai
and
Lao__NOTOC__ Lao may refer to: Laos * Something of, from, or related to Laos, a country in Southeast Asia * Lao people (people from Laos, or of Lao descent) * The Lao language * Lao script, the writing system used to write the Lao language ** Lao (Un ...

Lao
, while many Lao and Thai loanwords are found in Khmer. The
Thai Thai or THAI may refer to: * Of or from Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia ** Thai people, the dominant ethnic group of Thailand ** Thai language, a Tai-Kadai language spoken mainly in and around Thailand *** Thai script *** Thai (Unicode block) ...
and
Lao__NOTOC__ Lao may refer to: Laos * Something of, from, or related to Laos, a country in Southeast Asia * Lao people (people from Laos, or of Lao descent) * The Lao language * Lao script, the writing system used to write the Lao language ** Lao (Un ...
alphabets are also derived from the
Khmer script The Khmer script ( km, អក្សរខ្មែរ, )Huffman, Franklin. 1970. ''Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Reader''. Yale University Press. . is an abugida . ''May Śiva protect those who take delight in the language of the ...

Khmer script
.


Genetics

The Khmer people are genetically closely related to other Southeast Asian populations. They show strong genetic relation to other
Austroasiatic The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and wri ...
people in
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
and
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
and have a minor genetic influence from
Indian people Indians are the nationals Nationals may refer to: * People of a given nationality * A tournament or convention of national scope * Washington Nationals, a Major League Baseball team based in Washington, DC * Potomac Nationals, a former minor ...
. Cambodians trace ~16% of their ancestry to a
Eurasian Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it spans from the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Japa ...

Eurasian
population that is equally related to both
Europeans Europeans are the focus of European ethnology, the field of anthropology related to the various indigenous groups that reside in the List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe, nations of Europe. Groups may be defined by commo ...

Europeans
and
East Asians East Asian people (East Asians) are the people from East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia incl ...
, while the remaining 84% of their ancestry is related to other Southeast Asians, particularly to a source similar to the
Dai people The Dai people ( Burmese: တိုင်လူမျိုး; khb, ᩱᨴᩭ; lo, ໄຕ; th, ไท; shn, တႆး, ; Tai Nüa: , ; ) refers to several Tai-speaking ethnic groups living in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and ...
. Another study suggests that Cambodians trace ~19% of their ancestry to a similar Eurasian population related to modern-day
Central Asians Central Asia Central Asia is a region in which stretches from the in the west to and in the east, and from and in the south to in the north, including the former of , , , , and . It is also colloquially referred to as "the stans" as ...
,
South Asians South Asian ethnic groups are ethnolinguistic composition of the diverse population of South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region cons ...
, and
East Asians East Asian people (East Asians) are the people from East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia incl ...
, while the remaining 81% of their ancestry is related specifically to modern-day Dai and
Han people The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
. The genetic testing website
23andme 23andMe is a privately held personal genomics Personal genomics or consumer genetics is the branch of genomics Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, ...
groups Khmer people under the "Indonesian, Khmer, Thai & Myanmar" reference population. This reference population contains people who have had recent ancestors from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.23andMe Reference Populations & Regions. (n.d.). 23andMe. Retrieved June 14, 2020, from https://customercare.23andme.com/hc/en-us/articles/212169298-23andMe-Reference-Populations-Regions#h_f676b3fd-8072-48fe-8eeb-ea577ea2dfd2


Immunoglobulin G

Hideo Matsumoto, professor
emeritus ''Emeritus'' (; female: ''Emerita''), in its current usage, is an adjective used to designate a retired chair, professor, pastor, bishop, pope, director, president, prime minister, rabbi, emperor, or other person who has been "permitted to retain ...
at
Osaka Medical College is a private university in Takatsuki, Osaka, Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Japan. The precursor of the school was founded in 1927, and it was chartered as a university in 1946. External links

* in Japanese * in English Private ...
tested Gm types, genetic markers of
immunoglobulin G Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is a type Type may refer to: Science and technology Computing * Typing, producing text via a keyboard, typewriter, etc. * Data type, collection of values used for computations. * File type * TYPE (DOS command), a command to ...
, of Khmer people for a 2009 study. The study found that the Gm afb1b3 is a southern marker gene possibly originating in
southern China Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate regions within China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is ...
and found at high frequencies across southern China,
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
,
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
,
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
,
Assam Assam (, ) is a state in Northeast India, northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra Valley, Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of . The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to ...

Assam
and parts of the
Pacific Islands This is a list of islands in the Pacific Ocean, collectively called the Pacific Islands. Three major groups of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as ...
. The study found that the average frequency of Gm afb1b3 was 76.7% for the Khmer population.


Gallery

File:Pchum Ben Khmer.png, ''
Pchum Ben Pchum Ben ( km, បុណ្យភ្ជុំបិណ្ឌ, , meaning "Ancestors' Day") is a 15-day Cambodian religious festival, culminating in celebrations on the 15th day of the tenth month in the Khmer calendar, at the end of the Buddhist ...
, also known as Ancestors Day'' File:Art and culture.JPG, ''Khmer groom and bride'' File:Khmer New Year GA2010-183.jpg, ''Khmer New Year celebration'' File:Khmer New Year GA2010-223.jpg, ''Khmer elder washing Buddha statues'' File:Trot Dances.jpg, ''Khmer trot dance'' File:20171125 Cambodian Living Arts 4535 DxO.jpg, ''Khmer traditional dancers'' File:Preschool Graduation.jpg, ''Young Khmer children'' File:The girls who accompanied us during our visit. (3746624478).jpg, ''Group of young Khmer girls'' File:Kraing Tbong VB 01 06 6.JPG, Group of Khmers at a village meeting File:Royal Ballet Camboda Apsara Mera.jpg,
Apsara An apsara, also spelled as apsaras (respective plurals apsaras and apsarases), is a type of female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu mythology, Hindu and Culture of Buddhism, Buddhist culture. They figure prominently in the sculpture, ...

Apsara
dancers of the
Royal Ballet of Cambodia Royal Ballet of Cambodia ( km, របាំព្រះរាជទ្រព្យ, ''Robam Preah Reachtroap'') is a dance company of the Kingdom of Cambodia, famous for its luxury of costumes, accessories, gold and silver, accompanied by a bea ...


See also

* Anvaya (organization) * Cambodian cuisine * Chinese Cambodian *
Khmer Krom The Khmer Krom ( km, ជនជាតិខ្មែរក្រោម, , , lit. 'Lower Khmers' or 'Southern Khmers'; vi, người Khơ-me Crộm, người Khmer Nam Bộ, người Khmer Việt Nam, người Việt gốc Miên (used before 1975)) ...
* Khmer Loeu * Ethnic groups in Cambodia * Ethnic groups in Thailand * Ethnic groups in Vietnam


References

# Benjamin Walker (author), Benjamin Walker, ''Angkor Empire: A History of the Khmer of Cambodia'', Signet Press, Calcutta, 1995.


Notes


External links


Center For Khmer Studies

The Khmers via Tamtofi
{{Authority control Khmer people, Khmer people Ethnic groups in Cambodia