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Sihanoukville (Khmer: Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kompong Som or Kampong Saom, is a province (khaet) of Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. The provincial capital, also called Sihanoukville, is a port city and growing urban center located 185 kilometres (115 mi) southwest of Phnom Penh, the national capital. The province is named after former king Norodom Sihanouk and grew up around the construction of the Sihanoukville Port which began in June 1955 and became the only deep water port in Cambodia. Sihanoukville's beaches are a popular tourist destination.

The province is served by Sihanoukville International Airport, 18 kilometres (11 mi) from downtown, although it has a limited commercial operation. The airport currently has limited passenger flight between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh on Cambodia Angkor Air.

In addition to the Port and tourism, several NGOs and foreign and national investors in the last years have contributed to the growth of the province not only as its function as an international sea port but also to other sectors, namely textiles and real estate. Sihanoukville is also the location of the main production plant for Cambodia's national beer, Angkor Beer.

Sihanoukville was the place of the last official battle of the United States Army in the Vietnam War, although the incident took place outside Vietnam. The Mayaguez incident of 12–15 May 1975 involved US forces and the Khmer Rouge. Currently, divers at Koh Tang, one of the Sihanoukville islands where the major battle to free the USS Mayaguez took place, can see two shipwrecks on the sea floor 40 metres (130 ft) down.

Sihanoukville municipality was elevated to a province on 22 December 2008 after King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree changing the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces, as well as adjusting several other provincial borders.


The modern province and its capital were founded in 1960 after independence from France, in order to provide Cambodia with a sea port for international trade. The project was undertaken and overseen by the government of then-Prime Minister and Prince, Norodom Sihanouk.

The construction of the port began in 1955, in part due to the Vietnamese tightening their control over the Mekong Delta (made possible by the waning power of the French) which restricted river access to Cambodia. Most of the families of those involved remained near the port, effectively becoming the first inhabitants.

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

After the Khmer Rouge guerrillas taking control of the government in April 1975, the port was the last place to be evacuated by the US Army. The events surrounding the taking of the US container ship USS Mayaguez and its crew on 12 May by the Khmer Rouge and the subsequent rescue operation by US Marines played out on the waters and islands 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, Ream Naval Base and airfield, the railroad yard and petroleum refinery in addition to strikes and naval gun fire on the 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 markets in 1999, the province became one of the main areas of economic growth of Cambodia.

Where to visit:

Deum Chhrey Beach, Independence Beach, Kbal Chhay Waterfall, Koh Pors, Koh Rong Island, Ochheuteal Beach, Otres Beach, Phnom Leu, Picnic Resort, Prampi Chaon Beach, Prek Treng Beach, Ream Beach, Sokha or Serendipity Beach, Vistory Beach or Lomhe Kay, Wat Krom, Wat Leu

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