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Cambodia -  The land of Temples & the Angkor Kings

Cambodia is called "the country of the pagodas - temples - Angkor Empire" containing many mysteries that fascinate many visitors. There, the pristine beauty and majesty of Angkor, the Royal Palace, and Bokor are imprinted with time. Cambodian people's risilence and hospitality make Cambodia a traveller’s paradise.

 

Cambodia Summary

 

 

Early History

 

No one knows for certain how long people have lived in what is now Cambodia, as studies of its prehistory are undeveloped.

 

However, a carbon-l4 dating from a cave in northwestern Cambodia suggests that people using stone tools lived in the cave as early as 4000 BC, and further evidence suggests that by the 1st Century, rice cultivation, fishing and animal husbandry were the basis of organised society in Cambodia.

 

The first Cambodians likely arrived long before either of these dates. They probably migrated from the north, although nothing is known about their language or their way of life.

 

Various empires arose in the early stages of Cambodian history, with the Funan and Chenla Kingdoms reigning before the rise of the Khmer civilisation. Regarded as one of the most powerful empires in the world, the Khmer Empire prospered from the 9th to the 13th centuries. This was a time of growth and expansion, and many of the artistic treasures and archaeological monuments that Cambodia is known for come from this era.

 

The world-famous temples of Angkor were built during this period, and hold important clues to how life was lived back then. Temple inscriptions depicting daily life, religious ceremonies and military exploits give us important insights into this fascinating civilisation. There are many theories that speculate on the decline of the Khmer Empire. It’s more than likely that a combination of factors including drought, the arrival of the Plague and the rise of neighbouring Thai superpower Ayutthaya resulted in the loss of momentum for a once-powerful empire. A period of decline followed, with the 15th to the 19th centuries marking a time of Cambodia having a lower profile in international affairs, until coming under French Colonial rule in 1863.

 

 

Recent History

 

The events that have shaped Cambodia’s recent history began with the Communist Party of Kampuchea overpowering the Khmer Republic after more than 100 days of fierce fighting. What followed was a radical change in society, with Pol Pot leading the country now known as Kampuchea. This brutal regime soon set about restructuring society and was responsible for committing awful atrocities against the civilian population. Religion and education were repressed, currency and banking were abolished and people were sent to work in the fields. Business people, educators, scholars and other high-ranking members of society were hunted down and murdered by the Khmer Rouge. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of people (possibly millions) were murdered between 1975 and 1979. In addition to this, many more died of starvation and disease due to lack of medical care and nourishment.

 

This nationalistic, murderous regime was finally overcome by the Vietnamese Army in 1979, signalling the beginning of the peace process and the establishment of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. In 1993, millions of Cambodians voted to elect a new government, which then ratified a new constitution, and in 2004 a tribunal was established to serve justice to the people who committed atrocities during the Khmer Rouge era.

 

Today, Cambodia is rebuilding and moving on from it’s tragic past. Many NGOs have set up programs that empower and support Cambodians with education, health care, training and counselling. While widae-scale poverty and other social problems remain, Cambodia continues to gain strength from its burgeoning tourism industry, and has recently been successful in increasing access to education and health care as well as improving overall living standards.

 

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