(iii.) The Khmers or Cambodians, whose languages appear to belong to the Man-Annam group, form a relatively ancient kingdom, much reduced in the last few centuries by the advance of the Siamese and now a French protectorate.
M.; its population at 1,500,000, of whom some three-quarters are Cambodians, the rest Chinese, Annamese, Chams, Malays, and aboriginal natives.
The Cambodians have a far more marked affinity with their Siamese than with their Annamese neighbours.
Morose, superstitious, and given to drinking and gambling, the Cambodians are at the same time clean, fairly intelligent, proud and courageous.
Though disinclined to work, the Cambodians make good hunters and woodsmen.
The Cambodians show skill in working gold and silver; earthenware, bricks, mats, fans and silk and cotton fabrics, are also produced to some small extent, but fishing and the cultivation of rice and in a minor degree of tobacco, coffee, cotton, pepper, indigo, maize, tea and sugar are the only industries worthy of the name.
They formed important settlements at various points on the Mekong, notably Luang Prabang, Wieng Chan (Vien-Tiane) Ubon and Bassac; and, heading inland as far as Korat on the one side and the Annamite watershed in the east, they drove out the less civilized Kha peoples, and even the Cambodians, as the Lao Pong Dam did on the west.
Like their neighbours the Cambodians and the Chinese, the Annamese have a great respect for the dead, and ancestor worship constitutes the national religion.
In the midst of the Annamese live Cambodians and immigrant Chinese, the latter associated together according to the districts from which they come and carrying on nearly all the commerce of the country.
Bangkok, the capital, with some 650,000 inhabitants, is about one-third Chinese, while in the suburbs are to be found settlements of Mohns, Burmese, Annamites and Cambodians, the descendants of captives taken in ancient wars.
For centuries she had been distracted by wars with Cambodians, Peguans and Burmans, but the incorporation of Lower Cochin China, Annam and Tongking by the French, and the annexation of Lower and Upper Burma successively by the British, freed her from all further danger on the part of her old rivals.