● Cambodia was first a cluster of rival states, and at the beginning of the 9th century, it became the Khmer Empire. Farming was the main occupation of people of the Khmer Empire. There was also a rich craft culture. In terms of religion, the Khmers were animists and believed that spirits inhabited natural phenomena such as the earth and trees. Indian religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) came in later but co-existed with traditional beliefs.
● The architecture of temples was a display of the kingdom’s wealth. These temples were built with stone and still stand today, since the 12th century and even earlier.
● The most famous temple is Angkor Wat is a major tourist attraction even today.
● Subsequently, Cambodia came under pressure from the Champas of Vietnam, Thailand, the Japanese, and the Americans at various times in History.
● In 1863 Cambodia became a French protectorate. During the French rule, railways and roads were built and the economy progressed. Rubber tapping became an industry. However, heavy French taxes urged in a nationalist movement.
● In 1975 a horrific and tragic era of Cambodian history began in the reign of the Khmer Rouge. The disastrous consequences, including a ban on practising any religion, and forced agriculture labour, killing of millions, spreading of sickness, disease, famine…. It all finally ended finally with an invasion from Vietnam.
● Today Cambodia is still a poor country but the Cambodian economy grew rapidly. Today the economy of Cambodia is growing strongly. The textiles industry in Cambodia is booming so is tourism.
● In 2005 oil was discovered in the sea off Cambodia and it holds great promise for the future. Today the population of Cambodia is 16 million.