The origin of Kampuchea-Krom

The Khmers who live in the southern regions of the greater Cambodia are called Khmer Krom. The word Khmer Krom is more acceptable by the Khmer in Kampuchea Krom than the Khmer in Cambodia since it clearly identifies the geography of where these people were born, and live since 1862, upon completion of their occupation of Indochina, which included Tonkin, Annam, Laos Cambodia and Kampuchea Krom. The French colonial turned Kampuchea Krom to a colony and called it Cochin China, whereas the other four “states” were under the French protectorate. The name Cochin, perhaps, took after the southern city of India where both places have had much resemblance to each other. During their rule in Cochin China, the French authorities practiced a double standard policy when it came to the Khmer Krom and Vietnamese. The French avoided dealing directly with the Khmer Krom and used the Vietnamese to oppress them. Kampuchea Krom was the southernmost territory of the Khmer Empire. During this period, the Empire was a major power in South East Asia. The renowned architecture and construction of the Ancient Angkor Wat and many other numerous monuments in the Empire had brought the Khmer artistic to the highest level that human beings ever attained. The ruined port of Oc Eo (O Keo in Khmer) in the province of Rach Gia (today southern Vietnam), was the busiest port in the region, where the Khmers, Chams, Chineses, Indians, and Europeans did their trading. The township of Prei Nokor was a commercial center for the Khmer Empire, and it was once the most important military garrison against the Vietnamese’s southward movement. In spite of all these, the Khmer Krom people have outlived the sufferings and turbulence of the history, and remained united until today.

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