Sihanoukville, commonly known as ‘Kompong Som’ (Khmer: កំពង់សោម), is a seaside city in Cambodia and the seat of Sihanoukville Province. It is situated at the point of an elevated peninsula in Cambodia’s south-west at the Gulf of Thailand.
The city is surrounded by a virtually continuous stretch of beaches along its entire coastline, as well as coastal marshlands that border the Ream National Park to the east. A number of sparsely populated islands — administered by Sihanoukville – are close to the city, and in recent years, modest growth has helped to draw a substantial share of Asia’s individual travelers, young students, and backpackers.
In 2008, the city, named for former King Norodom Sihanouk, had a population of around 89,800 people, with an urban population of approximately 66,700. Sihanoukville city includes the majority of four of the five communes (Sangkats) in the Mittakpheap District of Sihanoukville province. It is a young city that has grown in tandem with the development of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which began in June 1955 as the country’s entrance to direct and unrestricted international sea commerce. Cambodia’s sole deep-water port comprises a mineral oil terminal and a transportation logistics center. As a result, the city expanded to become a major national hub for trade, commerce, transportation, and process manufacturing.
Sihanoukville’s many beaches and neighboring islands have made it Cambodia’s leading seaside resort, with continuously increasing numbers of national and foreign visitors since the late twentieth century. A continually rising number of seasonal and permanent foreign inhabitants make Sihanoukville one of Cambodia’s culturally most diverse and dynamic population centers, owing to its economic variety, natural beauty, and significant recreational possibilities. In compared to neighboring Thailand, the tourist industry remains tiny as of 2014. The ability of the authorities to successfully balance management in order to protect and conserve natural resources on the one hand and the necessities of island – and urban development, increasing visitor numbers, expanding infrastructure, the industrial sector, and population growth on the other will largely define Sihanoukville’s future.