Battambang is Cambodia's second-largest city and the capital of Battambang Province, which was founded in the 11th century. It is the former capital of Monton Khmer and lies in the heart of the Northwest of Cambodia. Until the war years, in which almost every infrastructure was destructed it was the leading rice-producing province of the country.
The name Battambang or Batdambang, literally means "loss of stick" referring to a legend of the Preah Bat Dambang Kranhoung (Kranhoung Stick King). The population is nowadays around 250,000 people. It's a riverside town, home to some of the best-preserved, French colonial architecture in the country.
Until recently Battambang was off the map for road travelers, but facilities have recently been improved and it makes a great base for visiting the nearby temples, such as Phnom Banan and Wat Ek Phnom, as well as the closed by villages.
It's a secondary hub on the overland route between Thailand and Vietnam, and if the National Highway No 6 from Poi Pet to Siem Reap is ever upgraded it'll become an even smaller hub. The network of charming old French shop houses clustered along the riverbank is the real highlight here, and there is a number of Wats scattered around the town.
The small museum has a collection of Angkorian-era artifacts, and beyond the town there are a number of hilltop temples, yet more Wats and a pretty large lake. One of the more famous hills is Phnom Sampeau (Ship Hill) with the notorious killing caves.
Battambang did not give way to the Khmer Rouge movement after the fall of Phnom Penh, but it’s been in the centre of the ongoing government Khmer Rouge conflict ever since the Vietnamese invasion in 1979 pushed the genocidal regime out of Phnom Penh and to the Northwest. Until the surrender deal of Ieng Sary (Khmer Rouge number three man based in Pailin), Battambang was the Khmer Rouge stronghold in the region.
In the earlier history Battambang flip-flopped back and forth between Thailand (called Siam before their 20th-century renaming) and Cambodia. It's been a part of Thailand most of the time since the 15th century, with Cambodia regaining control (more specifically due the French) in 1907. The Thais grabbed it again, with Japanese assistance, in 1941 and kept region in their camp until the World War II years in 1947.
The Allied Forces helped persuade the Thais that the region was originally part of ancient Cambodia and the world community would not take kindly to the Thais holding onto it further. Like the rest of the Northwest, there is still a lot of Thai influence apparent. The main currency is still the Thai Baht and many people are able to converse in Thai. But the area is very Khmer, with ancient Khmer ruins scattered around, and even the ways of life are much more similar to the rest of Cambodia than to Thailand.
Battambang city is a peaceful and pleasant place these days. The main parts of the city are situated closed to the Sangker River, a tranquil, small body of water that winds its way through Battambang Province. It is a nice, picturesque setting. As with much of Cambodia, the French architecture is an attractive bonus of the city.
The provincial capital of Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia (2007 estimated population around 1/4 million people). It is located in one of the biggest rice-growing areas in Southeast Asia. The average altitude of the province is around 50m. The province is bordering to the North with Banteay Meanchey, to the West with Thailand, to the East and South with Pursat and the great lake Tonle Sap.
The country's total surface is about 11,702 sq/km and around 67.7 inh/sqkm. The city is on both the highway and railroad linking Phnom Penh with Thailand; after the outbreak (1970) of civil war in Cambodia, the Battambang-Phnom Penh road was a prime target of the Khmer Rouge insurgents, who, by capturing it, severed Phnom Penh from its major source of rice. Battambang was acquired by Thailand in 1809 and returned to Cambodia in 1907. The city has also a technical university.
History of Battambang
Background of Battambang In the past and the present, Battambang Past, Since when has the name & lsquo; Battambang & rsquo; been used? The stone inscriptions discovered from the pre-Angkor and Angkor eras have as yet mentioned no villages or districts at that time that were called & lsquo; Battambang & rsquo; But we are not certain if the name was in use then or not. However, according to the document & lsquo; Mohachun Khmer & rsquo, & lsquo; Srok Battambang & rsquo; literally meaning Battambang district, was used during the Angkor and post-Angkor eras. Where did this name come from? No answer has been given to this question in the ancient stone inscriptions; the only evidence is a legendary story & lsquo; Ta Dombang Kranhuong & rsquo; Grandfather Kranhuong Stick, which, according to most Cambodians, dates back to the Angkor days. The story explains why the name & lsquo; Battambang & rsquo; or & lsquo; O’Dambang & rsquo; was used. There is another name: & lsquo; Preah Dambang & rsquo; that was given by the King Rama I to a village, which goes by the name & lsquo; Sangke & rsquo.
During the pre-Angkor and Angkor eras, the areas to the north and to the north west of the Tonle Sap Lake were known as the territories of Amogha Boreak and Bhima Boreak. During the Angkor period, the territory of Amogha Boreak was significantly prosperous because the land was so fertile that rice crops, fruit and vegetables grew well and yielded satisfactorily. Many Khmer people settled there as indicated by the existence of so many ancient temples in the area. With the exception of the temples of Banan, Ek Phnom, Ba Seth, Stung, Banteay Tey, Banteay Chmar, etc, other monuments, which were built by dignitaries and subjects at the time as places of worship to God and other deities of Buddhism and Hinduism, almost completely disappeared.
The following centuries, from the 15th to the 18th, saw the Battambang territory being invaded by the Siamese army, causing people to be forced into a miserable life, to experience painful family separation, and to lose their properties.
From late in the 18th century until early in the 20th century, the Siamese overran Battambang and placed it under the rule of the Lord Chaofa Ben family, which was later known as the Akpheyyavong Family, for 6 generations ending in 1907.
Under the French-Siamese treaty of March 23, 1907, the Siamese had to return the territories they occupied for over a century to Cambodia: Battambang, Siem Reap Angkor, Serei Sophoan, and Chong Kal in exchange for the Trat province and the area of Dach Se (Lao territory) in the upper reach of the Mekong River. A few months later, His Majesty Preah Bat Ang Doung Sisowath I issued a Royal declaration No. 66, dated December 6, 1907 dividing the Battambang territory into 3 provinces: Battambang, Siem Reap and Serei Sophorn.
In 1925, the Battambang territory was re-divided into two provinces: Battambang and Siem Reap, with Battambang having two districts: Battambang and Serei Sophorn. Then in 1940, the province of Battambang consisted of 7 districts: Battambang, Sangke, Maung Russey, Monkol Borei, Toeuk Cho, Serei Sophorn, and Bei Thbaung.
In May 1953, the administration of Poi Pet was founded and ordered under the district of Serei Sophoan. In July 1957, the district of Toeuk Cho was divided into two districts: Preah Netpreah and Phnom Srok. The district of Serei Sophoan was divided into two districts: Serei Sophoan and Banteay Chmar. In March 1965, the administration of Poi Pet, which was created in 1953, was elevated to the status of a district named O’Chrov. In July 1965, part of the territory of Maung Russey was separated to become the administration of Kors Kralor. In March 1966, another new district was founded: Thmar Pouk in the location of Thmar Pouk. Meanwhile, the district of Banteay Chmar was cut off from the province of Battambang for incorporation into the O’ddor Meanchey province, another newly founded province.
In the early years of the Khmer Republic, two new districts were established: Banan and Kors Lor. In all, up until this point, the province of Battambang consisted of 9 districts: Battambang, Sangke, Maung Russey, Mongkol Borei, Serei sophoan, O’Chrov, Peah Netpreah, Banan, Kors Lor, and two administrative territories: Bak Prea and Lovea. During the three years, eight months, and twenty days of the killing fields, as in other provinces across the country, Battambang saw its people evacuated from the city and towns and relocated to remote and mountainous areas. The province of Battambang, once known as the rice bowl of the country, was turned into a site of torture, killings, and starvation. The province then had no well-defined boundaries, because the leadership organization had included the province in the northwestern region, and they were Region 1, Region 3, Region 4, and Region 5. The names of some districts were still heard: Phnom Sampov, Battambang, Mongkol Borei, Sangke, Maung Russey, District 41, District 42, etc & hellip;
The province of Battambang was completely liberated from the genocidal regime on January 13, 1979. At that time, the leadership apparatus was called & lsquo; the People & rsquo;s Revolutionary Committee (of province, district, provincial town, commune-Sangkat). The People & rsquos Committee of commune-Sangkat was founded through the first-ever elections in 1983. Between 1979 and 1986, Battambang had 9 districts and one provincial town.
In 1986, three new districts were created: Banan, Bovel, and Ek Phnom. Until that point, Battambang had 12 districts and 1 provincial town: Maung Russey, Sangke, Banan, Ek Phnom, Battambang, Rattanak Mondul, Monkol Borei, Serei Sophoan, Preah Netpreah, Thmar Pouk, Phnom Srok, and Bovel.
In 1988, 5 districts were separated and incorporated into the newly founded province of Banteay Meanchey: Mongkol Borei, Thmar Pouk, Serei Sophoan, Preah Netpreah, and Phnom Srok. Until 1993, the province of Battambang had 7 districts, one provincial town, 53 communes and 10 sangkat. Under the new constitution, the provincial town of Battambang had its name changed to Svay Por district, while the 10 Sangkat were turned into communes, so that the province of Battambang then had 8 districts and 47 communes.
In 1998, following the integration of the Democratic Kampuchea, the province of Battambang saw part of its territory separated for the municipality of Pai Lin, while 4 new districts were established: Samlot, Kamreang, Phnom Proeuk and Sampov Loun.
In 2000, part of the district of Maung Russey was cut off to become the district of Kors Kralor, which consists of 6 communes. The district of Svay Por also changed to the district of Battambang, while the district of Battambang, which was located in Thmar Kaul, changed its name to Thmar Kaul district.
Today, the province of Battambang has 13 districts, 96 communes, and 741 villages, covering an area of 1,162,200 hectares with a population of 185.706 families or 955.104 persons.