several tribal groups in Cambodia (Por, Chon, and Kui), South Vietnam (Bahnar, Sedang, Van-kieu), Laos (Soai, Bo, So), and Thailand (Kui, Soai). One of the oldest ethnic groups in Indochina. Total population, 1.7 million people (1970, estimate).
The languages of the Highland Khmers are related to the Khmer language proper, but have different numeral systems: the Khmers use the quinary and the Highland Khmers the decimal system. The principal occupation is farming; the Highland Khmers use the slash-and-burn (less often, a primitive irriga-tional) method of farming. Fishing, forest gathering, and the hunting of big game (elephants and tigers) are still important. Pottery handicrafts are well developed. Their religion consists mainly of primitive animist cults, with some influence of Catholicism. The Highland Khmers in Cambodia are gradually being assimilated with the Khmers, and in South Vietnam various Highland Khmer tribes are consolidating into one ethnic group.