Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, whose Angkor Empire
extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th
and 13th centuries. Subsequently, attacks by the Thai and Cham (from
present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire ushering in a long period of
decline. In 1863, the king of Cambodia placed the country under French
protection; it became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese
occupation in World War II, Cambodia became independent within the French
Union in 1949 and fully independent in 1953. After a five-year struggle,
Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh in April 1975 and
ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns; at least 1.5 million Cambodians
died from execution, enforced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer
Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove
the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, led to a 10-year Vietnamese
occupation, and touched off almost 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace
Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which was not fully
respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore
some semblance of normalcy and the final elements of the Khmer Rouge
surrendered in early 1999. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition
government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the
formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The
July 2003 elections were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of
negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition
government was formed. Nation-wide local elections are scheduled for 2007
and national elections for 2008.

Population: 13,607,069

Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand,
Vietnam, and Laos

Map references:   
Southeast Asia

Total Area: 181,040 sq km
Land Area: 176,520 sq km
Comparative Area: slightly smaller than Oklahoma

Phnom Penh

National holiday:   
Independence Day, 9 November (1953)

More Cambodia Facts...