Located in northwest Cambodia, Siem Reap is the major tourist hub in Cambodia, as it is the closest city to the temples of Angkor. The most recognizable of the temples, Angkor Wat, literally Capital Temple, built by King Suryavarman II during the early 12th century provides the largest tourist draw. Recently the city has seen a great deal of expansion; hundreds of hotels, restaurants and shops, catering to both international and Cambodian tourists have opened to serve the influx of visitors. Also, King Norodom Sihamoni and the Cambodian royal family maintain a residence in the town. The Angkor temple complex is north of the city.
Other sites of interest near Siem Reap include Angkor Thom built by Jayavarman VII, Banteay Srei, Ta Prohm, as well as hundreds of other temple ruins. Angkor, and the surrounding area that would later become known as Siem Reap, faced repeated invasions from the Thais, and ceased to be the capital after a seven-month siege in 1431. The capital was moved to Phnom Penh in 1432, and then to Lovek and Oudong, before moving back to Phnom Penh in 1866. The temple ruins were visited by Western explorers and missionaries before the 19th century, but Henri Mouhot is generally seen as having "discovered" Angkor Wat in 1860.
The province is subdivided into 12 districts, 100 communes and 907 villages.