Archive for Khmer Loeu


Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , on June 8, 2013 by Thim Kwai

According to official statistics are 85% to 90% of the Cambodian inhabitants ethnic Khmer. That would make Cambodia the ethnically most homogenous country in Southeast Asia. Minorities are Vietnamese (5%), Cham (3%), Chinese (ca. 1%) and some Thai, Laotians and a number of hill tribal people who are collectively called Khmer Loeu (formerly Moi). Critics claim that the official numbers of the minorities are given a too small.

The Khmer People live since the 2nd century in the areas where they still live today. Where they are exactly from is not completely known, but they can hardly deny some Indian roots in their physical appearance.

Vietnamese live since the late 17th century in Cambodia, more came in the 19th and 20th. Many were promoted by the French colonial authorities who prefered them in official positions. After the Vietnames occupation between 1979 and 1989 another Vietnamese immigration wave came to Cambodia. There are old conflicts between the Khmer and the Vietnamese, which sometimes errupted in anti-Vietnamese pogroms.

Chinese live since some 500 years in Cambodia particularly in the cities as traders and craftsmen. Until 1975 Chinese controlled the economy and the traffic system of the country, but they got persecuted by the Khmer Rouge and many of them killed, so far they couldn’t escape. Since the early 1990s Chinese came back and gained meanwhile again an important economic role.

The Cham People are of Malayan roots and Muslims. They live along the lower Mekong River. Between Kratie and Kampong Cham / Phnom Phen are many mosques to see along the road. Their old empire, a long-term rival of the Angkorean Khmer empire, was destroyed by the Vietnamese in 1471 and part of the Cham fled then into Cambodia. Traditionally they are cattle dealers, butchers and silk weavers. Butching, by the way, is for the Buddhist Khmer according to the Buddhist rules, not allowed.

The Khmer Loeu are old Tai People who live in the mountainous regions bordering Vietnam and Thailand. They live traditionally half-nomadic, grow rice and vegetables, cultivate a sustainable slash-and-burn agriculture, keep cattle and are animists. Their livestyles are very much under pressure now due to the loss of their natural surroundings (see the description on the Ratanakiri page).

The majority of the Cambodian people live in the plains, the mountainous areas are partially almost uninhabited. Only 20% of the population lives in the cities; that’s still an aftereffect of the Khmer Rouge politics, who evacuated the cities.

This is just part of the ‘People of Cambodia’ chapter of the whole article. Read the whole article on Cambodia.

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