Its more enriching to have an idea of the history of Cambodia as you travel. Let’s take a quick history lesson. Though this is a quick walk down ‘history lane’ rather than a comprehensive history lesson 😉
What you’ll be surprised to find out is…
- Evidence of people living in this region dates back to dates in BC
- Starting from around the 3rd century, tribes of peoples living back then combined to create the foundation of Cambodia we know today
- China, India and even the Mongols have had a big influence on the Khmer Empire over centuries
- Buddhism became State religion in 1295.
Time to dig deeper…
- During the 12th century, the Khmer Empire with Angkor as its capital was the largest Empire in this region until the 15th century stretching a vast expanse including to the Mekong Delta
- The following few centuries were not so bright for Cambodia. They were under strong influence and pressure from the Siamese (Thai) and Vietnamese. Pressure by Vietnamese caused Cambodia to seek stronger alliance with Thailand
- In 1863 King Norodom (appointed by Thailand) sought French protection which lead to ‘giving’ Siem Reap and Battambang to the Thai’s (recovered again in 1906)
- Cambodia gained independence from the French in 1953 during reign of King Norodom Sihanouk
Quick look at some numbers…
- 1970 till 75 was a time of civil unrest. This was largely impacted by the Vietnam war and the downfall of Sihanouk by a military coup. The latter laid the grounds of the Khmer Rouge coming in power.
- From 1975 to 79 led by Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge reigned terror throughout the country. Senseless mass killings reduced the population in Phnom Penh to a ghost town of around 50,000
- In 1978 in response to Khmer Rouge attacks on Vietnamese borders, the Vietnamese retaliated and the fall of the Khmer Rouge resulted.
- After a few years of unstable governance, they re-established the monarchy in 1993. However a coup d’etat led by Hun Sen challenged them again in 1997 by leading to the constitutional monarchy arrangement it is today.
Hope you did enjoy your quick history lesson. Come, visit Cambodia and find out so much more…