Traditionally, Cambodian men were the heads of their families.
This means they were responsible for food and shelter. The family budget was the
concern of the woman. However, many men died as a result of the wars in Cambodia
during the 1970s and 1980s. In Cambodia today, only 20 to 30% of the adults are male.
Women head many families. Women work alongside men in the fields. Some widows have
moved to Phnom Penh to earn money to feed their families.
Children are given much affection and encouraged to be independent. Some Cambodian families consider five children the ideal number. When children are ready for marriage, some families in the rural areas choose a spouse for them. People in the cities may choose their own partners.
About 75 to 80% of Cambodia's people, who are called Khmer,
live in rural areas. Most small villages are home to about 300 people and are built
near roadways or water. Most villages have an elementary school and a temple, or
Rural houses are built on stilts because of the monsoons that bring heavy rain that would flood houses on the ground. People use ladders or stairs to enter and leave their homes. The houses have woven bamboo walls, wooden floors and thatched roofs made of palm leaves. The area underneath the living quarters is used for housing animals or for storage.
In rural houses the furniture is simple. People sleep on the
floor on mats and keep their belongings in baskets and chests. The kitchen is separate,
but close to the house. Some homes have low tables for eating. When eating, people sit
on a mat on the floor. Women bend their knees to the side and men sit cross-legged.
Houses in cities are similar to those other countries. They are made of brick or wood. Unlike the rural houses, they may be more than one storey.
|The traditional Khmer dress includes a checked scarf worn on the head or around the neck called a krama. Women wear a blouse and a sarong. In the fields people wear loose shirts and trousers. In urban areas people dress in Western-style clothes.|