City (pop., 2005 est.: 1,313,900), capital of Cambodia, at the junction of the Sab River (a tributary of the Tonle Sap) with the Mekong River. Founded in 1434 as the capital of the Khmer kingdom, it was abandoned several times before being reestablished in 1865. It was a cultural centre, with many institutions of higher learning. When the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia in 1975, they forced the city's population into the countryside to work in the fields. The city was repopulated beginning in 1979, and its educational institutions began a difficult period of recovery from the virtual extermination of Cambodia's educated class. Although the city is 180 mi (290 km) from the sea, it is a major port of the Mekong River valley; it is linked to the South China Sea via a channel of the Mekong delta in Vietnam.
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