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Cambodian History

The country in the early part of its history was controlled by China and it was during this time that Buddhism became the main religion in the country. In the 12th and 13th centuries the Cambodians had a dynasty that controlled much of the region and it was ruled from Angkor Wat (Angkor Temple), which was the religious area of the kingdom. There power lasted till the end of the 15th century when the Chinese and Thailand (Siam) became the new power in the region. When this happened Angkor was neglected and it fell into ruin and it was re-discovered till the 19th century. The area stayed in the control of Vietnam and Thailand till the French arrived in the area, as they took control of Vietnam and later Cambodia, which was known as French Indochina. This lasted till the 1950s with the exception of a brief period of Japanese occupation during World War II and in 1953 the Cambodians finally gained there independence from there French rulers.

Vietnam and Cambodian gained there independence around the same time and both became strong allies of one another. During the Vietnam War thousands of Vietnamese troops secretly based themselves inside the Cambodian / Vietnamese border. This created a massive bombing campaign by the Americans on these bases to try and eradicate them. They said that the Americans dropped more bombs on Cambodia during the Vietnam War then all the bombs dropped on Europe during World War II. Because of these bombing campaigns the Cambodian government was overthrown and replaced with right-wing communist group, which renamed themselves the new Khmer Republic. Unfortunately, under this new regime one-third of the population died of horrific brutality and a genocide that hasn’t been forgotten. Under the Khmer Rouge state currency was abolished and churches and temples were destroyed. The whole world heard about these atrocities, but did nothing about it. Finally in 1978 the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia, as it was tired of the brutality of the regime and the continued Khmer attacks on its territory. In 1981 a new constitution was declared and the capital Phnom Penh started to see people move back to the city as during the Khmer region they hid in the countryside. It was in the 1980s when Cambodia was recognized as a legitimate government by the United Nations. The country continued to experience internal fighting with different groups fighting to try and gain control of the country. Finally in 1991 an agreement was finally agreed upon between all the rival fractions and a United Nations peace force of over 17,000 troops were sent in to help stabilize the country and make sure peace was kept between all those involved. The country later went on to become a member of ASEAN and have diplomatic relations with all there neighboring countries. It’s one of the poorest countries in Asia, but with its recent changes and its membership into ASEAN it is starting to see more money being poured into the county.

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