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CULTURE

Approximately 90 % of the inhabitants of Cambodia are members of the Khmer people. There are several smaller ethnic groups such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Cham and mountain people, such as the Khmer Loeu and crossings between different groups.

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The Khmer people have lived in the Greater Region since around the 2nd century BC and probably originate from a combination of Mongolian and Melanesian peoples. The most important cultural influence comes from India and was noticeable from the 2nd century AD.

HINTS

  1. Approximately 90 % of the inhabitants of Cambodia are members of the Khmer people
  2. The Khmer people have lived in the Greater Region since around the 2nd century BC and probably originate from a combination of Mongolian and Melanesian peoples.
  3. In the 18th and 19th century larger groups of Chinese migrated into the Khmer Kingdom. In modern times they faced political persecution and expulsion.
  4. Approximately 200,000 Vietnamese are currently living in Cambodia. The southern part of the country and the region of Phnom Penh have a substantial proportion of Vietnamese settlers.

The hill tribes mainly live in forested mountain regions of the Northeast. They were former semi-nomadic and practiced an agriculture based on slash and burn. Their number increased in recent years, so that they had to change to an intensified agriculture and had to adopt the habits of the lowland Khmer.

There are about 500,000 Cham people, originating from the Cham established in the 16th century in what is now Central Vietnam. T hey now constitute the largest minority in Cambodia. The Pol Pot regime pursued the Cham intensively and reduced their number by half. Originally the Cham were Hindu oriented, later they became Muslims. Their spiritual centre is located in Chur-Changvra near Phnom Penh. The Cham are traditionally cattle traders, butchers and silk weavers.

In the 18th and 19th century larger groups of Chinese migrated into the Khmer Kingdom. In modern times they faced political persecution and expulsion. Many escaped, leaving around 100,000 people remaining today. Approximately 200,000 Vietnamese are currently living in Cambodia. The southern part of the country and the region of Phnom Penh have a substantial proportion of Vietnamese settlers..

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Dos in Cambodia

  1. Ask for permission before taking photographs of any Cambodian people or monks.
  2. It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a place of worship such as a pagoda or temple. Additionally, visitors should dress appropriately when inside a religious site (upper arms and legs should be covered, hats removed).
  3. It is respectful to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
  4. Though not always expected, a respectful way of greeting another individual is to bow the head slightly with hands pressed together at the chest (known as “Sampeah”).
  5. If invited to dine in a Cambodian family’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift for the host such as fruit, dessert, or flowers.
  6. If invited to attend a Cambodian wedding, it is customary to bring cash as a wedding gift.
  7. When using a toothpick at the table, use one hand to cover your mouth.
  8. Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.

 

DONts in Cambodia

  1. Don’t use your feet to point at someone.
  2. Don’t touch a Cambodian person on the head.
  3. Don’t begin eating if you are a guest at a dinner and the host has yet to take a bite.
  4. Women should never touch male monks or hand something directly to them.
  5. Keep public displays of affection to a respectful minimum.

 

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