We enter the mystical world of Siem Reap, a city in the north of Cambodia and home to the legendary Angkor Wat (“Temple City”) built in the 12th century that hosted around a million inhabitants in its time, making it one of the largest cities in the world before the Industrial Revolution.
In the 1970s, Cambodia lost a mighty 20% of its population to massacre, famine and illness under the Khmer Rouge. Money was abolished. Artists and intellectuals murdered. Urban dwellers forced to abandon their homes and work in fields. Businesses were attacked.
After Pol Pot, the country switched on its economic engine again, and it has slowly transitioned from exporting raw materials (such as wood) to mostly manufacturing clothes for international brands such as Gap. Today, around 80% of Cambodians still live in rural areas.
Small businesses provide an accessible avenue of social mobility for families, and in my next set of photographic essays, we will traipse through the markets and meet some of the remarkable people behind these businesses.
If you are interested in exploring the demographics of Cambodia, here’s a good source: http://www.prb.org/DataFinder/Topic.aspx