The official named is Kingdom of Cambodia located in the south of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The country was blessed with diverse flora and fauna which are typical for the tropics. Its long-lasting history is also the attractions which are waiting tourists to discover.
Undoubtedly, Cambodia's main attractions are the magnificent Angkor temples, both in scale and beauty, but there is much more on offer than its famous cultural sites.
As well as the impressive grandeur of the ancient capital, Cambodia has beauty scattered into thousand facets through the Kingdom. Visitors can cruise down the Mekong and tributary rivers, go trekking in remote areas and relax on deserted beaches.From the old history Cambodia is benefiting
From two decades of relative stability, having endured civil war and the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge. Its shares borders with Vietnam to the east, Laos to the north, Thailand to the west, the ocean coast to the southwest and covering 20 provinces and 4 municipals.
Since the last national election, a new era of peace and political stability has taking root in the country. Opportunities are now available to discover the deepest heart of the Kingdom, travelling in little known areas and understanding more about the Angkor civilization.
Tourism is one of the main industries in the Kingdom of Cambodia and strong efforts are being made to promote the country as a unique destination, rich in diversity with a fascinating cultural heritage.
THE ORIGIN OF THE KHMER
Cambodia came into being, so the legend says, through the union of a princess and a foreigner. The foreigner was an Indian Brahman named Kaundinya and the princess was the daughter of a dragon king who ruled over a watery land. One day, as Kaundinya sailed by,
the princess paddled out in a boat to greet him. Kaundinya shot an arrow from his magic bow into her boat, causing the fearful princess to agree to marriage. In need of a dowry, her father drank up the waters of his land and presented them to Kaundinya to rule over. The new kingdom was named Kambuja.
Like many legends, this one is historically opaque, but it does say something about the cultural forces that brought Cambodia into existence, in particular its relationship with its great subcontinental neighbour, India. Cambodia’s religious, royal and written traditions stemmed from India and began to coalesce as a cultural entity in their own right between the 1st and 5th centuries.
Very little is known about prehistoric Cambodia. Much of the southeast was a vast, shallow gulf that was progressively silted up by the mouths of the Mekong, leaving pancake-flat, mineral-rich land ideal for farming. Evidence of cave-dwellers has been found in the northwest of Cambodia. Carbon dating on ceramic pots found in the area shows that they were made around 4200 BC, but it is hard to say whether there is a direct relationship between these cave-dwelling pot makers and contemporary Khmers. Examinations of bones dating back to around 1500 BC, however, suggest that the people living in Cambodia at that time resembled the Cambodians of today. Early Chinese records report that the Cambodians were ‘ugly’ and ‘dark’ and went about naked. However, a healthy dose of scepticism is always required when reading the culturally chauvinistic reports of imperial China concerning its ‘barbarian’ neighbours.
THE FRENCH IN CAMBODIA
The era of yo-yoing between Thai and Vietnamese master came to a close in 1864, when French gunboats intimidated King Norodom I (r 1860-1904) into signing a treaty of protectorate. Ironically, it really was a protectorate, as Cambodia was in danger of going the way of Champa and vanishing from the map. French control of Cambodia developed as a sideshow to their interests in Vietnam, uncannily similar to the American experience a century later, and initially involved little direct interference in Cambodia’s affairs. The French presence also helped keep Norodom on the throne despite the ambitions of his rebellious half-brothers
By the 1870s French officials in Cambodia began pressing for greater control over internal affairs. In 1884 Norodom was forced into signing a treaty that turned his country into a virtual colony, sparking a two-year rebellion that constituted the only major uprising in Cambodia until WWII. The rebellion only ended when the king was persuaded to call upon the rebel fighters to lay down their weapons in exchange for a return to the status quo.
During the following decades senior Cambodian officials opened the door to direct French control over the day-to-day administration of the country, as they saw certain advantages in acquiescing to French power. The French maintained Norodom’s court in a splendour unseen since the heyday of Angkor, helping to enhance the symbolic position of the monarchy. In 1907 the French were able to pressure Thailand into returning the northwest provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap and Sisophon in return for concessions of Lao territory to the Thais. This meant Angkor came under Cambodian control for the first time in more than a century.
King Norodom I was succeeded by King Sisowath (r 1904–27), who was succeeded by King Monivong (r 1927–41). Upon King Monivong’s death, the French governor general of Japanese-occupied Indochina, Admiral Jean Decoux, placed 19-year-old Prince Norodom Sihanouk on the Cambodian throne. The French authorities assumed young Sihanouk would prove pliable, but this proved to be a major miscalculation.
During WWII, Japanese forces occupied much of Asia, and Cambodia was no exception. However, with many in France collaborating with the occupying Germans, the Japanese were happy to let their new French allies control affairs in Cambodia. The price was conceding to Thailand (a Japanese ally of sorts) much of Battambang and Siem Reap Provinces once again, areas that weren’t returned until 1947. However, with the fall of Paris in 1944 and French policy in disarray, the Japanese were forced to take direct control of the territory by early 1945. After WWII, the French returned, making Cambodia an autonomous state within the French Union, but retaining de facto control. The immediate post-war years were marked by strife among the country’s various political factions, a situation made more unstable by the Franco-Viet Minh War then raging in Vietnam and Laos, which spilled over into Cambodia. The Vietnamese, as they were also to do 20 years later in the war against Lon Nol and the Americans, trained and fought with bands of Khmer Issarak (Free Khmer) against the French authorities.