History Cambodia


Little is known of the early history of Cambodia, although there is evidence of habitation in parts of the country as far back as 4000BC. It is also known that Chinese and Indian traders exchanged goods with people living on the coasts of present-day Cambodia and Vietnam in the early AD centuries.

Angkor Temple

Angkor Temple

According to Chinese chroniclers, a kingdom known as ‘Funan’ flourished between AD300–600. A dynasty founded by the prince Jayavarman – possibly descended from the rulers of Funan – ruled from settlements in the eastern part of the country between around AD790 and the 11th century. During this period Cambodian power spread westwards into parts of Thailand. The golden era of the Khmer dynasty, from the 9th to the 15th centuries, made the kingdom of Kambuja (from where modern-day Cambodia gets its name) one of the most powerful in Asia.

History Cambodia

Angkor Thom

A long period of decline followed, before the country fell under French colonial clutches in the 1800s. Independence was finally achieved in 1953, after which Norodom Sihanouk was appointed king. His first reign lasted until the 1970s, when a coup d’etat and the Khmer Rouge led to four years of repression and the execution of tens of thousands.

Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge committed  genocide, masquerading it under a policy of social engineering. They executed academics, the wealthy, and even those who wore glasses. In 1979 the Vietnamese army captured Phnom Penh and occupied Cambodia. Sihanouk returned to the throne in 1993. His son, the current monarch, took over, following his father’s abdication in 2004. Politically, Hun Sen and the extreme-left Cambodian People’s Party recently won the 2012 election, with 77% of the votes, and have been in power since a disputed election in 1998.

History Cambodia

Royal Palace Phnom Penh

HistoryThe historical importance of Cambodia in mainland Southeast Asia is out of proportion to its present reduced territory and limited political power. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Khmer (Cambodian) state included much of the Indochinese mainland, incorporating large parts of present-day southern Vietnam, Laos, and eastern Thailand. The cultural influence of Cambodia on other countries, particularly Laos and Thailand, has been enormous. For a discussion of Cambodian history in its regional context, see Southeast Asia, history of.

Cambodia Culture

Religion

95% of the population are classified Buddhist (Theravada), the remainder are Muslim and Christian. Buddhism was reinstated as the national religion in 1989 after a ban on religious activity in 1975.

History Cambodia

Religion

Social conventions

Sensitivity to politically-related subjects in conversation is advisable. Avoid pointing your foot at a person or touching someone on the head, as it’s considered insulting. Women should keep their shoulders covered and should not wear shorts when visiting pagodas.

Photography: Permitted, with certain restrictions such as the photography of military installations, airports and railway stations. It is considered polite to ask permission before photographing Cambodian people, especially monks.

Language in Cambodia

History Cambodia

Language in Cambodia

Khmer is the official language and spoken by 95% of the population. Chinese and Vietnamese are also spoken. French was widely spoken until the arrival of the Pol Pot regime and is still taught in schools. English is commonly spoken in Cambodia. It’s estimated that over 50% of the population are conversational in English, but travellers in rural areas may find in hard to communicate in smaller villages. Learning a few basic Khmer words will get you far, and earn you respects from the locals.

History of Cambodia, Cambodia travel guide, Cambodia