Phnom Penh city takes the name form the present Wat Phnom or Hill temple.Legend has it that in 1372 ,an old nun named Penh went to fetch the water in the Mekong river and found a dead koki tree floating down the stream .Inside the hole of the dead koki tree contained four bronze and one stone Buddha statues in it .Daun (Gandma) Penh brought the statues ashore and ordered people to pile up earth at northeast of her house and used those Koki trunks to build a temple on
that hill to house the five Buddha statues, then named the temple after her as Wat Phnom Daun Penh, which presently
known as Wat Phnom, a small hill of 27 metres (89 ft) in height.The city was originally called Phnom Daun Penh after it
was founded, but it was later abbreviated to just Phnom Penh.
The city was also previously known as Krong Chaktomuk meaning "City of Four Faces". This name refers to the junction where the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers cross to form an "X" where the capital is situated. Phnom Penh the Royal capital of Cambodia.
Penh first became the royal capital of Cambodia in 1432 after His
Majesty Ponhea Yat (b.1421,r.1432-1462), king of the Khmer Empire,
moved the capital from Toul Bassan (presently called Srey Santhor) at
Angkor Thom after it was captured by Siam a few years earlier. There
are stupa behind Wat Phnom that house the remains of Ponhea Yat and the
royal family as well as the remaining Buddhist statues from the
Phnom Penh remained the royal capital for 73 years from 1432 to 1505 when it was abandoned for 360 years from 1505 to 1865 by subsequent kings due to internal fighting between the royal pretenders. Later kings moved the capital several times and established their royal capitals at various locations in Tuol Basan (Srey Santhor), Pursat, Longvek, Lavear Em and Oudong.
According to the historical records, in the 1600s, many Japanese immigrants had settled on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.But
it was not until 1865 that Phnom Penh became the permanent royal
capital of Cambodia when King Norodom I, great grandfather of Norodom
ordered 10,000 of his subjects to move out of the old royal capital of Oudong and settled in.Phnom Penh and the current Royal Palace was built in 1866 under the supervision of Oknha Tep Nimitr Mak.Phnom Penh during H. M. King Norodomâ€™s Reign: (1860), (r.1865-1904)Phnom Penh during the first ten years of king Norodomâ€™s reign was little more than a village with few huts lining the river. when Phnom Penh was re-established in 1865, it was divided into 3 villages: a Catholic
Village located to the north of the city in the Russey Keo
vicinity which was populated by the Vietnamese Catholic faithful. A
Chen (Chinese) Village located in the middle of the city along Sap
river which was populated by Chinese traders. A Khmer Village located
to the south of the city, around the present royal palace and Wat
Unalaom for Khmer population.
Beginning in 1870, the French colonial administration had turned a sleepy village into a city when it started to build hotels, schools, prisons, barracks, bank, public works offices, telegraph offices, Law courts, and health services buildings. In 1872, the first glimpse of a modern city took shape when the colonial administration contracted a French contractor, Le Faucheur, to construct the first 300 concrete houses for sales and rentals to the Chinese traders.
Preah Norodom had also begun. In 1895, CEEL, the first French company that produced clean water for Phnom Penh, built its first water plant at Chroy Changva. in 1897, the population of Phnom Penh city was close to 50,000 people out of a total population of the whole country of more than a 1,000,000. The population of Phnom Penh consisted of many ethnic groups such as the Chinese (22,000), Khmers (16,000), Vietnamese (4,000) and the French residents who were only numbered at about 400 people.Besides above ethnic groups, there were Malaysians, Thais, Indians, Laotians and others who called Phnom Penh their homes.Phnom Penh during the reign of H.M. King Sisowath: 1904-1927
are not much records about the developments of Phnom Penh City during
the reign of King Sisowath, except that the colonial administration had
contracted the dredging of the Mekong and Sap rivers in order to
facilitate marine navigation to enable ships and naval vessels to reach
Phnom Penh. The records show that in 1914 the colonial administration
had begun to expand the city to the west and to the south until Bassac
Phnom Penh during H.M. King Monivongâ€™s Reign:1927-1941King Monivongâ€™s reign was a period that Cambodia had first begun a policy of constructions. In 1928, a French company, Grands Travaux de Marseille (GTM), had been contracted to begin pumping sands from the bottom of Tonle Sap River to fill up Decho lake and other lakes in the city. The year of 1929 also seen a construction of a steel Preah Monivong Bridge. In 1932, the first railway tracts and stations from Phnom Penh to Battambang had been commissioned. The Boulevard Miche, now renamed Blvd.Preah Monivong had also been constructed.
In 1935, the Grand Market, now called Phsar Thom Thmey
Market, was built. And in 1939, Verdun Avenue, now renamed Blvd. J.
Nerhu and Ave. Preah Sihanouk was built.in 1939, the population of
Phnom Penh City was about 108,000 people, and the population of the
whole of Cambodia was about 3,000,000 people. Phnom Penh during the reign of H.M.
King and Prince Norodom Sihanouk : 1941-1970 and 1993-2004.Phnom Penh under the period of Sihanoukâ€™s rule had seen the expansion and the constructions of many modern infrastructures. The Cityâ€™s population had also grown dramatically. The cityâ€™s population had grown to 111,000 in 1942. By 1950 it had grown to 354,000 and 355,000 in 1958. By 1962, the population of Phnom Penh City reached 394,000. The city had been expanded and many infrastructures had been built. In 1958, the Blvd. Mao Tse Tung was constructed. And in 1961, the city had expanded and Tuol Kork, a new flashy modern suburb, was constructed. Other infrastructures had also been built during this period.
The International Olympic Stadium was built in 1963. In
1964, Tonle Bassac Theater and a Casino, now renamed the Cambodiana
Sofitel Hotel, were constructed. A railway line from Phnom Penh to
Kompong Som (Sihanoukville) was also commissioned in 1964. And the
International Airport of Pochentong was also built. And in 1966,
the Sangkum Reah Niyum Bridge, now renamed the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge, was built with funds provided by Japan. Many tertiary institutions such as the Sangkum Reastr Niyum University, The Khmer-Soviet Institute of Technology, Royal Phnom Penh University, The Khmer-Soviet Institute of Technology, Royal Phnom Penh University, the Institute of Foreign Languages and many more were constructed during this period. Gardens and parks were constructed and beautified. Phnom Penh City in the 1960s was called the Pearl of Asia.Phnom Penh during the Khmer Republic of Marshall Lon Nol: 1970-1975
Phnom Penh from 1970 onward had not seen much
developments due to the Cambodian civil war. The original population of
Phnom Penh City of 900,000 had swelled to over 2,000,000 at the end of
the war in 1975 because of war refugees from the countryside.On the
contrary, many infrastructures had been destroyed by fighting and
shells. In 1973,
the Khmer Rouge mined Chroy Changvar Bridge two times which eventually destroyed it. Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge Reign of Terror: 1975-1979The Khmer Rouge took power on 17th April 1975 and immediately began to evacuate whole population out of the city.
three days,a city with a population of2,000,000 had been reduced to a
population of a few Khmer Rougeofficials. Many infrastructures andbuildings and part of the city had been significantly destroyed. After
the Vietnamese troops toppled the Khmer Rouge on 5th January 1979, the
population began to return to Phnom Penh. As of 1998,
The population of Phnom Penh City had numbered to 862,000 people, including 149,000 families. In 2009, the population of Phnom Penh is estimated to number more than a million out of a total countryâ€™s population of approximately 14,000,000.
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