Khmer Ethnic Group

The largest ethnic group in Cambodia are the Khmers, who comprise around 90% of the total population in Cambodia, and are indigenous to the lowland Mekong subregion in which they inhabit.

Name of ethnic group: Khmer (The Viet is of Mien origin and Khmer Krom)

Population: 1,055,174 people (Year 1999)

Locality: Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Can Tho, Kien Giang and An Giang provinces.
Language: The Khmer speak a language belonging to the Mon-Khmer language group.
Customs and habits: The Khmer mainly practice Brahmanism and Hinayana Buddhism. Before reaching adulthood, young Khmer people often go to pagodas to study and improve their virtues and knowledge.
Culture: The Khmer have managed to preserve their own language and writings. They usually live with the Kinh and Hoa in "soc" (villages), and "phum" or "ap" (hamlets). The houses are simply built with thatched or tiled roofs. Major Khmer festivals include "Chon Cho Nam Tho May" (New Year Festival), Buddha's Birthday, "Don Ta" (Forgive the Crimes of the Dead), and "Ooc Om Bok" (Moon Worship).
Beliefs: The Khmer worship Buddha, and their ancestors. There are also agricultural rituals, such as worshiping the field's God (Neak Ta xie), calling the rice's spirit (Ok Ang Leok), and the Moon (Ok Ang bok).
Housing: The Khmer live on the Mekong delta, especially around those districts of southwest Vietnam. Moreover, they centralize around these three areas; on the delta, along the coast, and on the southwest mountainous area near the Cambodia border. Before, the Khmer live on house-on-stills. Now, however, they live in houses built on the ground, with a simple straw roof and thatch wall.
Economy: The Khmer have a long tradition in wet rice cultivation. Animal husbandry, weaving, pottery and sugar making from the "Thot Not" Tree are other forms of economic activity.

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