Phnom Penh is located at the junction of three rivers: the Mekong, the Tonle Sap and the smaller Bassac. Located in southern central Cambodia, Phnom Penh is in the very heart of the Kandal Province. The surrounding landscape is typical for this wet region, with rice and farm fields.
Phnom Penh was founded around the famous Wat Phnom Daun Penh (today known as Wat Phnom). Constructed on a hill in 1373, this shrine housed several Buddha statues that had been found floating in the Mekong in a koki tree. Saved by an old rich woman, Daun Penh (Grandma Penh), the statues took on a sacred status. Phnom Penh transformed from a village into a more modern city during French Colonialism and continued to grow through the first half of the 20th century. After the devastation in Cambodia left by the Khmers Rouges, Phnom Penh again found its place, rebuilding and becoming the important industrial, cultural and political center it is today. Phnom Penh now has over 2 million inhabitants and features its own dialect in the Khmer language.