Cambodia

A little information about the country that one intends to visit or that one has visited often allows us to put into context the past or future emotions specific to each trip. A little history or anecdotes are often welcome ... This is what you can find on this page dedicated to Cambodia. But nothing like (short) videos to get a more precise idea of the places visited or to visit. Beside is a list of the videos edited from the photographic material I brought back from the trip Vietnam & Cambodia • 2014.

You just have to click on the image to access the page giving more information on the place treated in the video and of course, to see this video ...


Ancient history

Traces of human life dating back to over 6000 BC have been discovered in the Mekong Delta. But the remains are relatively rare.

Between the 3rd and 5th century AD the territory was occupied by several kingdoms under Indian influence which merged to form a kingdom occupying present-day Cambodia and southwestern Vietnam. This state was to be divided into two following the troubles which followed the death of Jayavarman 1st towards the end of the 7th century. The region was ruled by relatively weak and porous rulers with Indian traditions which they helped disseminate throughout the region. These princes were subject to the domination of Java.

The Khmer Empire

At the very beginning of the 9th century, King Jayavarman II, who reigned from 790 to 835, took matters into his own hands and declared independence by creating the Khmer Empire. To establish his power, Jayavarman II instituted the cult of the king-god and considerably enlarged his empire by conquests which ended up unifying a large part of the Indochinese peninsula under the domination of the Khmer empire. It is also to Jayavarman II that we owe the construction of the capital Angkor which would have sheltered up to 1 million inhabitants.

This Khmer domination would last from the 9th to the 15th century.

The main religion of the Khmer Empire was Hinduism, a result of the Indian influence that had dominated the region for centuries.

The Mongol invasions of the 13th century did not spare Angkor which was the capital of the Khmer Empire. However, King Jayavarman VII succeeded in safeguarding his empire by purchasing peace with the Mongol invader at a high price.

The 13th century saw a rebound of Buddhism in the region, thanks to missionaries from Shri Lanka. Buddhism gradually replaced Hinduism in the peninsula.

Post-Angkor period

The relentless wars with neighboring powers finally got the better of the Khmer Empire in the middle of the 15th century. Angkor was abandoned following a collapse of its structures and water supply difficulties due to the degradation of the facilities following the catastrophic monsoons which followed one another at the time.

This period saw the rise of the Siamese (Thai) and Annamese (Vietnamese) dynasties which dominated the region during the following 3 centuries.

Vietnam eventually invaded Cambodia in the 19th century, turning it into a Vietnamese province. Many rebellions followed this annexation, in particular because the Vietnamese leaders tried to impose their traditions on the people of Cambodia.

The Siamo-Vietnamese war from 1841 to 1845 ended with a treaty putting Cambodia under French protectorate.

French colonization

Cambodia remained a French protectorate from 1867 to 1953 and was administered as part of the colony of French Indochina. He eventually gained independence under the leadership of Norodom Sihanouk in 1953.

Independence and the Vietnam War

Cambodia became a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihanouk as king. During the Cold War, Cambodia displayed a position of neutrality while allowing the Vietnamese Communists to use the territory as a rear base and as a supply route for their weapons and troops fighting in South Vietnam.

The Americans then bombed Cambodia to fight the advance of Vietnamese communist troops. First with the consent of the king and then the latter opposed (in vain) these military actions thus moving away from the United States.

Khmer Republic

The Khmer Republic would last from 1970 to 1975.

A coup organized by Prime Minister Lon Nol deposed Norodom Sihanouk while he was visiting China.

The new regime immediately demanded the departure of Vietnamese troops, which led to Vietnamese attacks against the government of Cambodia, which was receiving US aid. The king, not admitting defeat, urged his followers to overthrow the new government, leading the country into a deadly civil war. At the beginning, from 1970 to 1972, this war pitted the Cambodian government against the North Vietnamese troops who eventually took control of the territory, and supported the Cambodian communists, infamously known as the Khmer Rouge.

Cambodian territory was massively bombed by South Vietnam and the United States, killing tens of thousands between 1969 and 1973.

Khmer Communist troops launched a decisive offensive in early 1975, culminating 3 months later in the collapse of the Khmer Republic.

Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1978

The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, seized power in Phnom Pen in 1975 and the name of the country was changed to Democratic Kampuchea. Inspired by the Cultural Revolution of Mao Tse Toung, the Pol Pot regime evacuated the cities by forcing the inhabitants to work the land in the countryside, in order to revive the country's agriculture as it was in the 11th century. Everything that was Western was destroyed, starting with medicine and libraries. Many temples were also destroyed.

It is estimated that between 1 and 3 million Cambodians were killed during this dark period in the country's history, or about 25% of the population.

All the intellectuals were wiped out. We can no longer count the number of doctors, lawyers or teachers killed by the regime.

Religion was also strongly repressed and it is estimated that 95% of the temples were destroyed during this time. Many Vietnamese who settled in Cambodia were either expelled or massacred during these dark years.

Vietnamese occupation

Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia at the end of 1978, in response to border raids launched by the Khmer Rouge on their territory. The Vietnamese set up a new regime under the name of the People's Republic of Kampuchea, led by dissident Khmer Rouge who fled the Pol Pot purges and took refuge in Vietnam.

A government in exile made up of Khmer Rouge, supporters of Norodom Sihanouk and the Khmer People's National Liberation Front formed under the name of the Democratic Kampuchea Coalition Government and demanded the departure of the Vietnamese. The refusal of the latter resulted in heavy economic sanctions from the United States.

A comprehensive peace settlement was finally signed in Paris in 1991 giving the UN a mandate to implement the ceasefire and deal with the refugees.

Modern Cambodia.

It was in 1993 that the monarchy was restored and Norodom Sihanouk returned to the throne of Cambodia. A troubled period marked the beginnings of this new regime with threats of secession from some of the members of the coalition. A new coup d'état took place in 1997 and after a period of stabilization, Norodom Sihamoni was crowned in place of his father Norodom Sihanouk in 2004.

Cambodia • Videos


 

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