WEFOUNDA History of Cambodia, 4th Edition


Cambodia is often referred to as a “young country” – the devastation of an entire generation under the Khmer Rouge regime means that today’s Cambodia has a majority population under 25 years old and is still in the beginnings of bringing basic infrastructure to many rural areas. However, human habitation of the area dates back to 6th millennium BC, and, of course, the enormous and now-famous Khmer Empire of the 9th-13th century AD with its center piece of Angkor Wat gives Cambodia special historical significance in South East Asia.

Laang Spean (Cave of Bridges) in Battambang Province in the northwest of Cambodia is home to a documented Hoabhinian site (period of Southeast Asian prehistory from about 13,000 to 3000 BC). Excavated in the 1960s by French archaeologists, the site produced flaked stone tools characteristic of the era, as well as earthenware ceramics though to be from the Neolithic period. It is thought that several historic sites in Cambodia may overlie pre-historic remains, but there is little archaeological record for much of the prehistoric era.

After the death of Jayavarman VII (responsible for the construction of Ta Prohm , Angkor Thom and Bayon , the Khmer empire went into a period of decline, ending with a successful Thai invasion in 1431. The following 400 years is referred to as the “dark ages” of Cambodia, with its neighbors Siam and Vietnam fighting for dominance over the region.

Cambodia , country on the Indochinese mainland of Southeast Asia . Cambodia is largely a land of plains and great rivers and lies amid important overland and river trade routes linking China to India and Southeast Asia. The influences of many Asian cultures, alongside those of France and the United States, can be seen in the capital, Phnom Penh , one of a handful of urban centres in the largely rural country.

Cambodia began the process of recovery under the Vietnam-backed regime of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (1979–89), and in the 1990s it regained political autonomy, reestablished a constitutional government, and subsequently instituted free elections. The Cambodian economy has steadily improved, and the country seems to be living by the words of the Cambodian proverb, "Fear not the future, weep not for the past."

Cambodia, about one-third the size of France and somewhat larger than the U.S. state of Missouri, is bordered to the west and northwest by Thailand, to the northeast by Laos, to the east and southeast by Vietnam, and to the southwest by the Gulf of Thailand . The country’s maximum extent is about 280 miles (450 km) from north to south and 360 miles (580 km) from east to west.

Cambodia is often referred to as a “young country” – the devastation of an entire generation under the Khmer Rouge regime means that today’s Cambodia has a majority population under 25 years old and is still in the beginnings of bringing basic infrastructure to many rural areas. However, human habitation of the area dates back to 6th millennium BC, and, of course, the enormous and now-famous Khmer Empire of the 9th-13th century AD with its center piece of Angkor Wat gives Cambodia special historical significance in South East Asia.

Laang Spean (Cave of Bridges) in Battambang Province in the northwest of Cambodia is home to a documented Hoabhinian site (period of Southeast Asian prehistory from about 13,000 to 3000 BC). Excavated in the 1960s by French archaeologists, the site produced flaked stone tools characteristic of the era, as well as earthenware ceramics though to be from the Neolithic period. It is thought that several historic sites in Cambodia may overlie pre-historic remains, but there is little archaeological record for much of the prehistoric era.

After the death of Jayavarman VII (responsible for the construction of Ta Prohm , Angkor Thom and Bayon , the Khmer empire went into a period of decline, ending with a successful Thai invasion in 1431. The following 400 years is referred to as the “dark ages” of Cambodia, with its neighbors Siam and Vietnam fighting for dominance over the region.


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