Cantonese in Cambodia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Cantonese are a subgroup of the Han Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are mutually unintelligible. They are separate languages not merely dialects of the same language. Cantonese contains up to nine tones compared to the national language, Mandarin, has only four. Although they speak different languages and dialects, all Chinese people in China use the same written script.

The large southern Cantonese majority city of Guangzhou has been continually inhabited for 2,200 years. The city has been the center of Cantonese civilization. In the 33rd year of the reign of Emperor Qin Shihuang (214 BC), the Nanhai Prefecture was established in today's Guangzhou. Large numbers of other Han Chinese came into the area. Guangzhou became home to large numbers of foreign merchants in the ninth century until the T'ang emperors lost control of it in AD 878.

Some Cantonese came to live in Cambodia to escape war and to engage in business. Before 1975 tens of thousands of Cantonese speakers lived in Cambodia. Some of them were able to escape the Khmer Rouge and others were killed as undesirable foreigners. The communist Khmer Rouge ruled from 1975 to 1979 and murdered up to a quarter of the population. Today Cambodia is officially a constitutional monarch but in actuality a one-party authoritarian state.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Many Cantonese in Cambodia own restaurants and feature a fusion of southern Chinese, French and Cambodian cuisine. Other Cantonese work in the growing tourist trade, finance or as managers in factories.

Cambodia is classified as a “least developed” nation by the UN, yet it has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The Chinese are investing billions of dollars through the Belt and Road Initiative. Some of the poorer Cambodians resent the relative wealth and status of the Cantonese Chinese in their country.

The Cantonese of Cambodia strive to maintain their language and distinct culture. They send their children to private Chinese schools. Cantonese parents want their children to obtain a university education and attend colleges in China, Europe or North America. The Cantonese tend to have smaller families than the Khmer majority in Cambodia.

The Cantonese speak their own language at home and Khmer, English or Mandarin at work.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Cantonese have continued to be one of the most openly religious of all Han Chinese peoples. Most homes in Guangdong Province have spirit altars. The Cantonese also observe Taoist and Buddhist festivals.

In September 1807 missionary Robert Morrison landed in Guangzhou. A new era of Protestant missions began in China. Seven years later he baptized his first convert, "At a stream of water issuing from the foot of a lofty hill, far away from human observation. May he be the first-fruits of a great harvest." Today there are at least 1.2 million Cantonese Christians in China but only a small number in Cambodia are believers. There are many Christian resources in Cantonese including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film.

What Are Their Needs?

The Cantonese in Cambodia tend to be materialistic in their lifestyle. Like many others, the Cantonese focus on gaining wealth believing that money will make them happy. The Cantonese must understand that they are sinners in need of a Savior. Only the Lord can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray the few believers among the Cantonese of Cambodia can find fellowship and grow in the faith.

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Cantonese of Cambodia.

Pray that the Cantonese would have a desire to read the Bible.

Pray that the Lord would establish a growing church among the Cantonese of Cambodia in this decade.

Scripture Prayers for the Han Chinese, Cantonese in Cambodia.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2011-06-26
Han profile for Children and Family Missions Activities
People Name General Han Chinese, Cantonese
People Name in Country Han Chinese, Cantonese
Natural Name Cantonese
Pronunciation can-tun-EEZ
Population this Country 24,000
Population all Countries 81,393,000
Total Countries 36
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Baihua; Cantonese; Guangdong Hua; Guangxi; Gwong Dung Waa; Hakka; Han Chinese; Hoa (Hán); Macau Chinese; Nung; Punti; Totok; Yuet; Yuh
People ID 12057
ROP3 Code 103701
Country Cambodia
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Battambang and Kampong Cham provinces.   Source:  Ethnologue 2020
Country Cambodia
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Battambang and Kampong Cham provinces..   Source:  Ethnologue 2020

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Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Chinese, Yue (24,000 speakers)
Language Code yue   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Chinese, Yue (24,000 speakers)
Language Code yue   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Chinese, Yue

Primary Language:  Chinese, Yue

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1862-1903)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1877)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1894-1997)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio
Film / Video God's Story video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Chinese, Yue
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Film / Video Magdalena video
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime
Film / Video Open the Doors See the Mountains
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children
Film / Video The Prophets' Story
General Gospel resources links
General Zúme Training
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file
Mobile App Download audio Bible app from Google Play Store
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Chinese, Yue
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Chinese, Yue
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
37.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.40 %)
1.00 %
Ethnic Religions
57.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
40.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
30.0 %
Roman Catholic
30.0 %
Photo Source Karolien Taverniers - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more