Cambodia

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SIHANOUKVILLE

Preah Sihanouk Province (Khmer: ខេត្តព្រះសីហនុ"King Sihanouk"), commonly referred to as Sihanoukville Province, is a province(ខេត្ត, khaet) in the south-west of Cambodia at the Gulf of Thailand. The provincial capital, also called Sihanoukville, is a deep-water port city and a steadily growing and diversifying urban center located on an elevated peninsula.

The province is named in honor of former king Norodom Sihanouk, who personally orchestrated the establishment of Sihanoukville city and the Sihanoukville municipality as this took place alongside the construction of the Sihanoukville Port, which commenced in June 1955. The only deep water port of Cambodia includes a mineral Oil terminal and a transport logistics facility.

Sihanoukville Province is divided into four districts, each with a distinct economic character, defined largely by location and access to resources. In addition to the port and the growing tourism industry, the activities of countless NGO's and international investment have contributed to an unprecedented economic growth of the province over the course of the last decade. Economic sectors that deserve mentioning are the transport & logistics industry, process manufacturing, agriculture & fishery, textile industry and the real estate market.

The islands and beaches of Sihanoukville province are an international tourist destination as visitor numbers have risen steadily since the late 20th century.

The initial Sihanoukville municipality was elevated to a regular province on 22 December 2008 after King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree converting the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces, as well as incorporating Kompong Seila district. As one of Cambodia's agriculturally and industrially most diverse province its economic future has a solid basis, although the essential sectors agriculture and tourism require a strict and permanent administrative protection of the local natural resources

The official name in Khmer is: Khaet (province) Preah (holy) Sihanouk (name of the former king), which adds up to: "Province of the holy Sihanouk" or "Honorable Sihanouk Province". It honors the former king Norodom Sihanouk (reigned 1941–1955 and 1993–2004) who was and still is revered as the Father of the modern Nation. Sihanouk himself suggested the official Western variant Sihanoukville. The name "Sihanouk" is derived from Sanskrit through two Pali words: Siha (lion), and Hanu (jaws).

The former name, Kompong Saom (also romanized as Kompong Som and Kampong Som), (Khmer: កំពង់សោម) means "Port of the Moon" or "Shiva's Port". Saom is derived from the Sanskrit word "saumya", the original (Rig Vedic) meaning of which was "Soma, the juice or sacrifice of the moon-god", but evolved into Pali "moon", "moonlike" "name of Shiva". The word Kampong or Kompong is of Malayan origin and means village or hamlet. Its meaning underwent extension towards pier or river landing bridge.

Prior to the ports' and city's foundation works of 1955, no recorded settlement on the peninsula existed that was larger than a traditional trade and/or - fishing community. During the many centuries of pre-Angkorian and Angkorian history – from Funan to Chenla and during the Khmer Empire, regional trade was centered at O Keo (Vietnamese: Óc Eo) in the Mekong Delta, now the province of Rạch Giá in Vietnam. The township of Prei Nokor (Saigon) was a commercial center of the Khmer Empire. The Chronicle of Samtec Cauva Vamn Juon – one of the 18th- and 19th-century Cambodian Royal Chronicles – briefly mentions the region as the country was split into 3 parts during a 9-year civil war from 1476 to 1485: "In 1479, Dhammaraja took on the throne at Catumukh (Phnom Penh) and controlled the provinces of Samrong Tong, Thpong, Kompong Saom, Kampot up to the Bassak, Preah Trapeang, Kramuon Sar, Koh Slaket and Peam"

The city's and province's alternative name Kompong Saom (Kampong Som) was adopted from the local indigenous community. After the dissolution of French Indochina in 1954, it became apparent that the steadily tightening control of the Mekong Delta by Vietnam required a solution to gain unrestricted access to the seas. Plans were made to construct an entirely new deep-water port. Kompong Saom (Kampong Som) was selected for water depth and ease of access. In August 1955, a French/Cambodian construction team cut a base camp into the unoccupied jungle in the area that is now known as Hawaii Beach. Funds for construction of the port came from France and the road was financed by the United States.

During the Vietnam War the port became an intensive military facility on both sides, in the service of National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and after 1970, under the government of Lon Nol, in the service of the United States.

The port was the last place to be evacuated by the US Army, only days before Khmer Rouge guerrillas took control of the government in April 1975. The events surrounding the taking of the US container ship SS Mayaguez and its crew on 12 May by the Khmer Rouge and the subsequent rescue operation by US Marines played out on the waters of Koh Tang off the coast of Sihanoukville. During the two days of action, the US commenced air strikes on targets on the mainland of Sihanoukville including the port, the Ream Naval Base, an airfield, the railroad yard and the petroleum refinery in addition to strikes and naval gun fire on several islands.

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 and the subsequent opening of the economy, the port of Sihanoukville resumed its importance in the development and recovery of the country. With the further opening of new markets in 1999, the city regained its role in the economic growth of Cambodia.

In 1993, the Ream National Park was established per royal decree of former King Sihanouk.

The Sihanoukville Municipality was elevated to a regular province on 22 December 2008 after King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree converting the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces.

In 2006 the Koh Puos (Cambodia) Investment Group submitted an application, planning to invest $276 million in converting the 116-hectare Koh Puos - Snake island into a luxury residential - and resort complex. After the completion of certain elements of the infrastructure, the investor announced alterations of the original blueprints, as "Reapplying for permission will happen in 2014..." according to the Council of the Development of Cambodia.

On 26 May 2011 Preah Sihanouk area joined the Paris-based club Les Plus Belles Baies Du Monde (The most Beautiful Bays in the World). The organisation officially accepts the Bay of Cambodia as one of its members at the 7th General Assembly

Sihanoukville province is located at the coast of the Gulf of Thailand in southern Cambodia, occupying an area of 2536 km2 that includes the foothills of the Elephant Mountains and a sizable peninsula. Moderately developed beaches, a National Park and a number of pristine islands in proximity are natural assets that attract national and foreign visitors. A small group of islands dot the near coast due south and west. Sihanoukville province borders Koh Kong and Kampong Speu province to the North and West, Kampot province to the East and the Gulf of Thailand to the South.

The peninsula is separated from the central plains of Cambodia by the Elephant Mountains. The province incorporates the Ream National Park with a size of 210 km2 that includes the islands of Koh Thmei and Koh Seh.

Being a comparatively small province, Sihanoukville province has only two urban centers: the Sihanoukville city itself and Veal Rinh in the Prey Nob District, 46 kilometers north of Sihanoukville town. Prey Nob district in the East is predominantly rural and agricultural. Stung Hauv district in the north-west, only half the size of Prey Nob has the largest fishery sector of the province. Kampong Seila district in the North is still in the process of incorporation. Mittakpheap district in the south about the size of Stung Hauv, including the islands of Sangkat Koh Rong is one of the most advanced settlement centers of Cambodia with a developed and versatile industry, a large pool of skilled work force and a high HDI.

The province is connected to Phnom Penh by National Highway No 4; to Kampot Province by National Highway No 3 and to Koh Kong Province by National Highway No 48. National Highway No 4 represents the southern end of Asian Highway 11, which in turn is a section of the Asian Highway Network.

Sihanoukville town: The town’s layout reflects little structural planning. Neighborhoods accumulate around the major road "Ekreach(Engl.=independence)". It winds along the headland's rolling hills and halfway between Victory Hill in the north - and Ochheuteal quarter in the south are banks, shops, the local markets, hotels, administrative facilities and most corporate businesses. The post office and the inter-provincial bus station are located towards the north between Victory Hill and the port.

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