The one minute summary on Cambodia
This is it: one minute to the best info on Cambodia. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Cambodia; garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.
Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire, ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863, and it became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953.
In April 1975, after a five-year struggle, communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off almost 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government.
Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999.
Some of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders have been tried or are awaiting trial for crimes against humanity by a hybrid UN-Cambodian tribunal supported by international assistance. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed. In October 2004, King Nonrandom SIHANOUK abdicated the throne and his son, Prince Nonrandom SIHAMONI, was selected to succeed him. Local elections were held in Cambodia in April 2007, with little of the pre-election violence that preceded prior elections. National elections in July 2008 were relatively peaceful, as were commune council elections in June 2012.
That was it. I promised one minute. For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.
- Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in Cambodia
- Does my current phone work in Cambodia? Tips to cell phone usage in Cambodia
- Local food you should try in Cambodia and No miss drinks in Cambodia
Now, cheers to the most Cambodia aware person at the cocktail party.
What are the key history moments for Cambodia?
It is important to remember that Cambodian history did not begin with the Khmer Rouge. Poll Pot’s incredibly harsh regime has garnered most attention, but the Cambodians have enjoyed a long and often triumphant history. Anybody who witnesses the magnificent temples at Angkor can attest to the fact that the Khmer Empire was once wealthy, militarized, and a major force in the region. Its zenith came under Jayavarman VII (1181-ca. 1218), where the Empire made significant territorial gains from the Cham.
The Khmer Empire stretched to encompass parts of modern day Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, Laos and Vietnam. Relief battle at Angkor The period following the fall of the Khmer Empire has been described as Cambodia’s dark ages. Climatic factors precipitated this fall, where the Ankorian civilization harnessed Cambodia’s water for agriculture through elaborate systems of canals and dams. The Khmer Empire never recovered from the sacking by its neighbors, based in Ayutthaya (in modern day Thailand), and Cambodia spent much of the next 400 years until French colonization squeezed and threatened by the rivalries of the expanding Siamese and Vietnamese Empires to the West and East. Indeed, on the eve of French colonization it was claimed that Cambodia was likely set to cease to exist as an independent kingdom entirely, with the historian John Tully claiming there can be little doubt that their [the French] intervention prevented the political disappearance of the kingdom.
The French came to dominate Cambodia as a protectorate from the 1860s, part of a wider ambition to control the area then termed Indochina (modern day Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos). The French were always more concerned with their possessions in Vietnam. Education of Cambodians was neglected for all but the established elite. It was from these elite that many “Red Khmers” would emerge. Japan’s hold on Southeast Asia during the Second World War undermined French prestige and following the Allied victory Prince Sihanouk soon declared independence.
This was a relatively peaceful transition; France was too absorbed with its struggle in Vietnam, which it saw as more important to its conception of L’Indochine franchise. Prince Sihanouk was the main power figure in the country after this. He was noted for making very strange movies in which he starred, wrote and directed. His rule was characterized at this point with a Buddhist revival and an emphasis on education. This was a mixed blessing, however. He succeeded in helping create educated elite who became increasingly disenchanted with the lack of jobs available. As the economic situation in Cambodia deteriorated, many of these young people were attracted to the Indochinese Communist Party, and later the Khmer Rouge. Face of Avalokitesvara at Prasat Bayon as the Second Indochina War spread to Cambodia’s border (an important part of the “Ho Chi Minh trail”), the USA became increasingly concerned with events in the country.
The US Air Force bombed Cambodia from 1964 to 1973. During this campaign, which was initially codenamed Operation Menu, 540,000 tons of bombs were dropped. Estimates of the death toll range from 40,000 to 150,000. Most of the bombing was done in support of Khmer Republic military forces fighting the Khmer Rouge and North Vietnam. In total, from 1964 to 1973 the US dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Cambodia: more than the combined amount dropped by all the Allies in all theatres during World War II. In March 1970, while overseas to visit Moscow and Beijing, Sihanouk was overthrown by Lon No and other generals who were looked upon favorably by the United States. Sihanouk then put his support behind the Khmer Rouge.
This change influenced many to follow suit; he was after all considered a Bodhisattva. Meanwhile the Khmer Rouge followed the Vietnamese example and began to engender themselves to the rural poor. Between 200,000 and 300,000 people died in the civil war including US air campaigns. Following a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns. Over 1 million people (and possibly many more) died from execution or enforced hardships. Those from the cities were known as “new” people and suffered worst at first.
The rural peasantry were regarded as “base” people and fared better. However, the Khmer Rouge’s cruelty was enacted on both groups. It also depended much upon where you were from. For example, people in the East generally got it worse. It is debated whether or not the Khmer Rouge began “crimes against humanity” or a protracted “genocide”. There are claims there were a disproportionate number of ethnic Chasm killed, and the ethnically Vietnamese also suffered persecution. Nonetheless, the Khmer also suffered often indiscriminate mass killings.
A 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside and ended 13 years of fighting (but the fighting would continue for some time in border areas). As a result of the devastating politics of the Khmer Rouge regime, there was virtually no infrastructure left. Institutions of higher education, money, and all forms of commerce industries were destroyed in 1978, so the country had to be built up from scratch.
UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy, as did the rapid diminution of the Khmer Rouge in the mid-1990s.A coalition government, formed under pressure of the party who lost the elections but enforced his control of powers, after national elections in 1998, brought renewed political stability and the surrender of remaining Khmer Rouge forces. Many leaders of the formal periods kept important positions. They often adopted more liberal views as long they could extract personal profit of the situation. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) put Ieng Sary, Poll Pot’s brother in law, on trial for ‘crimes against humanity’.
The one minute summary for Cambodia geography
Best places to see in Cambodia
There are many temples around for you to see (as mentioned above). Make sure to have your shoulders and knees covered when entering the temples to give respect to their traditions. Explore the Cardamom Mountains for jungle trekking and waterfalls. Walk S.E. Asia’s largest mangrove forest. Hang out on white sand beaches, all in Koh Kong Laze on the beach in Sihanoukville. Enjoy the river and peace in Kampot Visit the temples of Angkor near Siem Reap Get far off the beaten track with a motorcycle tour which will take you into some of the most remote parts of the country.
Go on a Boat Party in Phnom Penh the best beaches in Keep are on Rabbit Island. Enjoy one of the last Natural Island, Rabbit Island of Kep Koh Rong, and Sihanoukville (1.5hrs by boat from Sihanoukville). The islands of Cambodia are what Thailand was 15 years ago. Currently, Koh Rong is the only island with any development, and has 78 sq. kms of jungle, 30 untouched beaches, 4 fishing villages, less than 10 bungalow guesthouses. $30/day.