Northern Khmer in Cambodia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Khmer have been in the lower northeast of present-day Thailand even longer than the Thai. There are many Khmer ruins dating from the pre-Angkor and the Angkor periods in the three provinces and beyond, notably at Phanomrung (Buriram), still with concentrations of Khmer-speaking communities nearby.
The dialect of Khmer spoken in Cambodia across the north is very similar to the dialect in Thailand, though in Thailand many Thai words are also used. There is a dialect called "Northern Khmer" which is like a hybrid between Khmer and Thai.
Northern Khmer are mostly found in the lower northeast of Thailand, in the provinces of Buriram, Surin and Sisaket, which border Cambodia. They are also known as Thai-Khmer or Khmer-Surin. Northern Khmer speakers are also found in villages along the Thai-Cambodian border in Prachinburi province. There is also a smaller group of Northern Khmer who live in Cambodia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Northern Khmer are traditionally rice farmers, following the rhythm of the monsoon which can be notoriously fickle, with one village able to plant crops while another suffers drought. They are also skilled timber-cutters and house builders, and many Khmer women weave silk and cotton cloth during the dry season. Due to lack of ground water, only small-scale agriculture is possible, apart from raising cattle or buffaloes. Their food is distinctively Khmer with the popular somlor (soup) and liberal use of prohok.
Music is also very much part of their culture with the Khmer violin and pleng kantrum (Khmer folksong) at the center of village life and celebrations. They dress much like the Thai, but with distinctive colors and patterns in their sarongs.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Outwardly the Northern Khmer are followers of Theravada Buddhism, with a strong admixture of spirit-worship and divination. This is performed by the kruu, who may be either a monk or a layman. As well as Buddhist festivals, they also hold a festival to the spirits of the dead known as Prachum Ben. Most Khmer houses have a spirit shelf near the house, and another inside the house with items placed there by the khruu.

What Are Their Needs?

The Northern Khmer people need to be given the chance to hear the life-changing gospel so they can enjoy life to the full.

Prayer Points

Pray for loving gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Northern Khmer people for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing the hearts of these people would be open and ready to follow him.
Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended families so the gospel will spread rapidly.
Pray for the spiritual lives of the Northern Khmer people to become fruitful so others will be drawn to Jesus Christ.

Scripture Prayers for the Khmer, Northern in Cambodia.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Khmer, Northern
People Name in Country Khmer, Northern
Natural Name Northern Khmer
Population this Country 5,200
Population all Countries 1,503,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Khmer Lue; Thailand Khmer; Upper Khmer
People ID 19921
ROP3 Code 107448
Country Cambodia
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country Cambodia
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

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Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
98.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.00 %)
2.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Khmer, Northern (5,200 speakers)
Language Code kxm   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Khmer, Northern (5,200 speakers)
Language Code kxm   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Khmer, Northern

Primary Language:  Khmer, Northern

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1983)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1996)
Bible-Complete Yes  (2003)
Bible-NT Audio 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 Online Audio Scripture Talking Bibles
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Oral Bible stories One Story
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Khmer, Northern Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Mobile App Download audio Bible app from Google Play Store Faith Comes by Hearing
Photo Source Kathi Hayes 
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more