Khmer in France

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Khmer (or Cambodians) in France are immigrants and refugees from Cambodia and Thailand. The first Khmer to make their way to France did so in the late 1800s, when Cambodia was a French protectorate. These people were mainly from the elite classes; students, businessmen, and even members of the Cambodian royal family. More Khmer emigrated to France during WWI, but the numbers were not as high as they would be in the 1970s-80s.

Bombings from a civil war between the Cambodian government and communist rebels (Khmer Rouge), began a time of strife which grew worse with the Khmer Rouge being victorious and starting a five year reign of death and terror. Eventually the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, putting an end to the Khmer Rouge, but beginning a time of foreign control. Through this time there was massive famine. Three million died in refugee camps; thousands of others escaped to sheltering countries, one of which was France. The Khmer who emigrated to France were usually from the higher classes, whereas the poorer ones were more likely to flee to either Australia or the United States. The largest Khmer diaspora is either in France or Vietnam.

The Khmer in France are usually in Lyons or the Rhone-Alps region.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today, the Khmer of France live in inexpensive houses in the suburbs of Paris. The older generation still speaks their tongue, Khmer. Children who wish to learn to read and write Khmer attend classes run by volunteers. Almost all of today's Khmer in France speak the French language fluently.

They are well-educated. Many of the young Khmer in France have chosen to study either computer programming or accounting. The French government often hires them as bookkeepers and auditors for the monasteries. Whereas the young Khmer men in Cambodia often aspire to join the monastery, the Khmer of France show little interest in becoming monks.

Central Khmer are Buddhist, although relics of ethnic religions such as ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors) and spirit worship are very real.
What Are Their Beliefs?

Though they are officially Buddhist, most Khmer are not interested in religion. It has come to a point where women often lead temple activities while the men spend their time elsewhere. However, almost all would consider themselves Buddhist. After all, that is the religion of their ancestors.

In some temples, the monks are involved with horoscopes and healing rituals. The Khmer do not have sufficient space for large gatherings during their annual festivals so they must hire community halls. In Paris, such festivals take place at the International Buddhist Temple in the Bois de Vincennes. In Cambodia, most people support the monastery nearest to their homes. In France, they chose their monastery based on ethnicity, class, political persuasion, and attitude towards folk religions.

What Are Their Needs?

There was a lot of opportunity to reach the Khmer in France before they settled into their new culture and environment. Today it will be very difficult for them to have the spiritual hunger it takes to surrender to Christ. But God is a God of miracles, and he can change hearts even in difficult spiritual circumstances.

Prayer Points

Pray for spiritual openness to Jesus Christ that will not be hindered by the belief in religious institutions rather than the person, Jesus Christ.

Pray for an abundant blessing of Khmer families and communities in France as they embrace Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords.

Pray for a movement to Christ that will enrich the Khmer community in France.

Scripture Prayers for the Khmer in France.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Khmer
People Name in Country Khmer
Pronunciation kuh-MARE
Alternate Names Cambodians; Central Khmer; Cu Tho; Cur; Kampuchean; Khmer Krom; Khmer Nam Bo; Khmer, Northern; Kho Me; Khơ-me; Kmer; Ku; Mien; Thai-Khmer; West Cham
Population this Country 71,000
Population all Countries 16,122,000
Total Countries 13
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 12662
ROP3 Code 104946
ROP25 Code 303980
ROP25 Name Khmer
Country France
Region Europe, Western
Continent Europe
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country France
Region Europe, Western
Continent Europe
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
88.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.40 %)
1.00 %
Ethnic Religions
3.00 %
0.00 %
2.00 %
6.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Khmer (71,000 speakers)
Language Code khm   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Khmer (71,000 speakers)
Language Code khm   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Khmer

Primary Language:  Khmer

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1899-1933)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1929-1993)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1954-2016)
FCBH NT ( Online
YouVersion NT ( Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Love letter to you from scripture Father's Love Letter
Audio Recordings Online Audio Scripture Talking Bibles
Audio Recordings Oral Bible stories One Story
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Khmer Jesus Film Project
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
Film / Video The Hope Video Mars Hill Media
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions Got Questions Ministry
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Four Spiritual Laws Campus Crusade for Christ
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Android Bible app: Khmer YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Khmer YouVersion Bibles
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2024  Ari V - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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