Phnom Penh

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Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh (nŏm pĕn, pənŏmˈ) or Phnum Penh (pəno͝omˈ), city (1994 est. pop. 527,000), capital of Cambodia, SW Cambodia, at the confluence of the Mekong and Tônlé Sap rivers. Phnom Penh was founded in the 14th cent. and was made the Khmer capital after the abandonment (1434) of Angkor. It became the capital of Cambodia in 1867. The city was occupied by the Japanese in World War II. The cultural and commercial center as well as political capital of Cambodia, it was severely stressed and battered by the civil war in the 1970s. The onset (1970) of fighting between government forces and the Khmer Rouge drove refugees from the war-torn countryside to Phnom Penh. Its population swelled from c.500,000 in 1970 to c.2 million in early 1975, when it was evacuated after falling to the Khmer Rouge. By the time the Khmer Rouge were overthrown in 1979, the city had become virtually a ghost town, with no more than 50,000 residents and its universities and cultural institutions no longer in operation. It gradually revived through the 1980s; Phnom Penh Univ. reopened in 1988. The transportation center of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is the focus of four highways radiating out to the provinces. It is the terminus of the country's only two railroads—one extending to the Thai border and another to the deepwater port of Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand. There is an international airport in nearby Pochentong.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Phnom Penh


the capital of Cambodia, located at the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers. The climate is subequatorial and monsoonal. The average January temperature is 24.6°C, and the average July temperature 27.5°C. The annual precipitation reaches 1,475 mm. Population, 1.2 million (1972).

A river port accessible to oceangoing vessels, Phnom Penh has a freight turnover of 500,000 tons. It is linked by rail to the port of Kompong Som (Sihanoukville) on the Gulf of Siam (Indian Ocean) and to Bangkok (Thailand). The Pochentong international airport is near Phnom Penh, and the city is a highway junction. All of Cambodia’s banks, many trade and industrial companies, and the insurance bureau are located in the city. Phnom Penh has enterprises for repairing ships and motor vehicles, for assembling automobiles, and for food processing (rice, palm oil, sugar). There also are wood-products, soap-making, tobacco, and textile industries.

Tradition has it that Phnom Penh arose as a settlement in the 14th century. It became the capital of Cambodia in 1443 or, according to some sources, in 1446. From the 1520’s onward, the capital was moved a number of times to other cities, but Phnom Penh retained its importance as a major economic center. In 1866, King Norodom made Phnom Penh the permanent capital of Cambodia. The central institutions of the French protectorate administration of Cambodia were also located there.

In 1953, Phnom Penh became the capital of independent Cambodia. In April 1975 the city was liberated by Cambodian patriotic forces, who gained a decisive victory in the struggle for the freedom and independence of their country—a struggle that developed after a coup in March 1970 by reactionary circles with outside imperialist support.

The radial layout of the central city dates back to the second half of the 19th century. It is combined with a rectangular network of adjacent sectors of the city. The predominant structures in the central city are villas and two- to four-story European-style dwellings with stores and offices on the ground floor. Outside the central city light wooden dwellings are prevalent.

The oldest structure in Phnom Penh is the Phnom Wat, with its 15th-century stupa. Buildings of the 19th and 20th centuries include the royal palace complex (late 19th and early 20th centuries), the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum (1917–20), the roofed market (1936), the National Sports Complex (1962–64, architect Vanmolivan), the Chakdomuk Conference Hall (1961, architect Vanmolivan), the hospital (1956–60, Soviet architect N. L. Iakobson and others), the Higher Technological Institute (1962–64, Soviet architects S. N. Mikhailov, A. V. Mochalov, and V. P. Naumov), and the Independence Monument (sandstone, unveiled in 1960, designed by Vanmolivan).

Also located in Phnom Penh are the National University of Phnom Penh, the Royal Technical University, the Higher Technological Institute (built by the USSR as a gift to the people of Cambodia), the Agricultural University, the University of Fine Arts, and the Buddhist University. The Buddhist Institute and a number of scholarly societies are situated in Phnom Penh, as are the National Library (31,000 volumes) and the library of the Buddhist Institute (40,000 volumes and more than 16,000 manuscripts written on palm leaf). Museums include the National Museum, the Royal Court Museum, and the museum of the Buddhist Institute. The National Theater and the Royal Ballet have permanent companies in Phnom Penh.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Phnom Penh

, Pnom Penh
the capital of Cambodia, a port in the south at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers: capital of the country since 1865; university (1960). Pop.: 1 174 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005