first civilization of Cambodia existed from the
1st to 6th century in a State referred to as Funan.
It was the oldest Indianized state in Southeast
Asia, and from this period Cambodia's first writing
language Sanskrit began. Influenced by Indian
cultures, Funan accepted Hinduism, which was latter
converted to Buddhism. What makes Cambodians different
from its neighbors is due to the fact that Cambodians
wear scarves, called Kramas, rather than straw
From 9th to 13th century Angkor period existed.
The period began with King Jayavarman II taking
the throne in 802. At its peak, Angkor Empire
extended from the border of modern day Burma east
to the South China Sea and north to Laos.
Of great Kings who built famous temples were King
Suryavarman II who built the world's renowned
Angkor Wat, whereas King Jayavarman VII successfully
construction of most of largest temples of Angkor,
particularly Great City known as Angkor Thom.
Not only the temples were the success of those
Angkor Kings, but also vast man-made lakes with
water exits for centuries together with its sophisticated
system of irrigation such as canals and dikes.
This enabled rice cultivation for 3 times a year,
and that Angkor was a wealthy empire.
As Angkor period ended, the city moved to Longvek,
then to Oudong and finally to the present day
capital of Phnom Penh. The fall of Angkor marked
the collapse of Cambodia Empire, which resulted
in invasion and ransacks by its neighbors including
the Thais and Vietnamese from the 15th to 17th
centuries. This was mainly to conflict by royal
courts. The post Angkor era also brought about
a rapid expansion of Theravada Buddhism
In 1863, Cambodia agreed to protection from France
that ruled Cambodia for nearly 100 years. Like
other colonial countries, France introduced modern
Western government structure, education, courts
and architectural styles on its land, thus one
can see today many colonial buildings remain.
In 1945, the Japanese briefly ousted the French
protectorate. After the defeat of Japan in World
War II, the French returned and ruled until 1953
when Cambodia gained full independence. King Norodom
Sihanouk abdicated the throne to his father and
led political party to unite the country from
1950 to 1960, during which Cambodia reached its
peak surpassing its Southeast Asian nations.
In 1970, Vietnamese war spilled over into Cambodia,
and King Norodom Sihanouk was overthrown by General
Lon Nol. Lon Nol government was defeated by the
Khmer Rouges in 1975, then Cambodia embarked a
dark period for more than 3 years. During the
Khmer Rouges time, the country's entire infrastructure
was completely destroyed. No religion, no money,
no education, no school and so on that the historical
wheel turned to year zero. In 1979, The Khmer
Rouges was toppled by Vietnamese backed movement
People's Republic of Kampuchea which administered
the country against the Khmer Rouges who was then
ousted to northern jungles.
In 1991, Paris Peace Accords was signed, which
then brought United Nations to temporarily administered
and organized a free and fair elections in 1993
whereby an internationally recognized Cambodia
government headed by two prime ministers was created.
Monarchy has also been reinstated and King Norodom
Sihanouk is a head of State. This was by no means
putting an end to Cambodia civil war. In 1997,
factional fighting between ruling political parties
took place in the capital of Phnom Penh until
cease fire was agreed to and next national elections
administered by Cambodians themselves was conducted
After creation of new coalition government headed
by Prime Minister Hun Sen, and with establishment
of House of Senates in addition to the lower law
making institution the National Assembly, Cambodia
has experienced stability in terms of politics
and economics. This allows Asean to accept Cambodia
as its final 10th member.
Being part of regional groupings, Cambodia needs
to look forward to attracting investments from
the region and elsewhere.