Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia. It’s the country’s commercial, political, economic, culture and tourist area. Lading from north to south along the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong river, Phnom Penh has the population of about 2.5 million people living in an area of about 290 square kilometers. Phnom Penh has a mixed population of Khmer, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
Phnom Penh City Hall, a French architechture
Phnom Penh was formerly built by King Ponhea Yat (1405-1466) in 1434. The second time built by King Norodom in December 1865. Since then Phnom Penh became Cambodia’s capital city officially until now. Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s center of economic and industrial activities, politics, economics, cultural, and diplomacy of the country.
During the 1920s, Phnom Penh was considered one of the most beautiful French-built cities in Indochina. While Siem Reap is the city of Khmer ancient temples, Sihanouk Ville is the beautiful city of natural white sand and sea, Phnom Penh is aslo a significant global and domestic tourist destinations for Cambodia by its beautiful and historical architecture. Along the grand boulevards in Phnom Penh center, there are many French colonial buildings and French villas are visible and some of them are in used, especially the government administration buildings. Some of them are: Then National Treasury Building, Phnom Penh Post Office, Phnom Penh Railway Station.
Phnom Penh has its name after a artificial hill Phnom Daun Penh. A legend related to the founding of Phnom Penh goes that, there is an old lady named Penh (Daun is Khmer for “old lady”, that’s why “Daun Penh”) living at the Chaktomuk (currently Phnom Penh). One day, while she was walking by the Mekong river, she saw a log of Koki tree (Koki is a kind of tree which its timber is very good to survive in water.) floating near the bank. After the koki tree log was pulled up to the shore by local people, Lady Penh found four statues of Buddha made of bronze and one statue of Vishnu made of marble inside the tree. Lady Penh and the locals believed that this was the intention of God to send those statues here. The record wrote that in 1372, Lady Penh built a hill on the west bank of Tonle Sap river and placed a shrine on top to house the found sacred artifacts. And the hill was named Phnom Daun Penh (Hill of Lady Penh).Later on when the town was growing around this area and take its name in short form as Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh is a municipality with 678.46 square kilometres area which is divided into 8 administrative divisions called Khan (district), they are: 7 Makara, Chamkar Mon, Dangkor, Daun Penh, Mean Chey, Russey Keo, Sen Sok, and Tuol Kok. And the Khans are further subdivided into Sangkats (communes), and further into smaller group called Krom.
Some cultural and touring sites within Phnom Penh which visitors shouldn’t miss are: Royal Place and Silver Pagoda, Wat Phnom or Phnom Daun Penh, National Museum, Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, Killing Field, Central Market and Russian Market.