Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cambojans, the dominant race in the ancient kingdom of Camboja, Indo-China, resembling their Siamese and Annamese neighbours in general appearance, but distinguished from all other Indo-Chinese peoples in several particulars, and especially in their language, which is neither isolating, monosyllabic, nor spoken with tones like the Chinese, Siamese, and all other members of that family. Its affinities seem to be rather through the Cham with the Malayo-Polynesian, which probably spread from South-East Asia over the oceanic world in prehistoric times. It has long been cultivated and written in a character based on the Pali (later Sanscrit), introduced by the Hindu missionaries (both Brahman and Buddhist) nearly 2,000 years ago. Under these missionaries the Cambojans became civilised, established a powerful empire which at one time embraced a great part of Indo-China, and erected the stupendous monuments of Angkor Vat and other structures scattered in profusion over the now deserted shores of the Great Lake. But this civilisation was ruined by the continual encroachments of the Annamese from the east and the Siamese from the west, and the kingdom reduced to its present narrow limits in the Lower Mekhong Valley. The Cambojans themselves have also degenerated, and are now a feeble, apathetic people, with little national sentiment, and scarcely a memory of their former greatness. The name Camboja is now little used, the inhabitants generally calling themselves Khmer, and the country Khmer Sroc or Khmer Nocor. Still Kampushea, whence the gamboge of commerce, occurs in old MSS., in the royal titles at the head of official documents; it has been wrongly identified with the Kamboja of Sanscrit geography, which lay to the north-west of India; it appears to contain the same root as Khmer, of which the Siamese form is Kammen, whence Kam-puoch, Kampush, "People of Kam," from puoch - race, people. At present the Cambojan nation numbers about 1,000,000, that is, 800,000 in the kingdom of Camboja, and 200,000 in the conterminous provinces of Siam. See E. Aymonier, Le Cambodge, 1876, and A. H. Keane, Indo-Chinese and Interoceanic Races and Languages, 1882.