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Indochina Discovery - One Definition a Day: Cambodia

Indochina Discovery
Cambodia (kămbō`dēə), 

Khmer Kampuchea, officially Kingdom of Cambodia, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 13,607,000), 69,898 sq mi (181,035 sq km), SE Asia. Cambodia is bordered by Laos on the north, by Vietnam on the east, by the Gulf of Thailand on the south, and by Thailand on the west and north. Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city. Cambodia has 20 provinces and four municipalities.

Land and People
The heart of the country is a saucer-shaped, gently rolling alluvial plain drained by the Mekong River and shut off by mountain ranges; the Dangrek Mts. form the frontier with Thailand in the northwest and the Cardamom Mts. and the Elephant Range are in the southwest. About half the land is tropical forest. In general, Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate, with the wet southwest monsoon occurring between November and April and the dry northeast monsoon the remainder of the year. During the rainy season the Mekong swells and backs into the Tônlé Sap (Great Lake), increasing the size of the lake almost threefold. The seasonal rise of the Mekong floods almost 400,000 acres (162,000 hectares) around the lake, leaving rich silt when the waters recede.

One of the few underpopulated countries of SE Asia, Cambodia is inhabited by Cambodians (or Khmers), who comprise about 90% of the population. There are large minorities of Vietnamese and Chinese; other ethnic groups include the Cham-Malays and the hill tribespeople. Theravada Buddhism is the state religion and about 95% of the people are Buddhists; the Cham-Malays are Muslims. Religious freedom is constitutionally guaranteed. Khmer is the official language, but French is widely used.

Economy
Cambodia is one of the world's poorest nations, its economy and its political life still suffering from the civil war that racked the country during the latter part of the 20th cent. Conditions are ideal for the cultivation of rice, by far the country's chief crop. Livestock raising (cattle, buffalo, poultry, and hogs) and extensive fishing supplement the diet. Corn, vegetables, fruits, peanuts, tobacco, cotton, and sugar palms are widely cultivated.

Rice and rubber are traditionally the principal exports of Cambodia, but exports fell sharply after the onset (1970) of the civil war, which put most of the rubber plantations out of operation. By the 1990s, however, rubber plantings had been undertaken as part of a national recovery program, and rubber and rice were again being exported. The fishing industry has also been revived, but some food shortages continue.

Until recently, inadequate transportation hampered exploitation of the country's vast forests, but by the mid-1990s timber had become the largest source of export income. Mineral resources are not abundant, but phosphate rock, limestone, semiprecious stones, and salt support important local mining operations. The country's industries are based primarily on the processing of rubber and agricultural, fish, and timber products. Cambodia is connected by road systems with Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam; waterways are an important supplement to the roads. The country has two rail lines, one extending from Phnom Penh to the Thai border and the other from Phnom Penh to Kompong Som (Sihanoukville).

Government
Under the constitution promulgated in 1993 and subsequently amended, Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy headed by a king; the king is chosen by the Royal Council of the Throne from the members of the royal family.

The bicameral parliament consists of a popularly elected National Assembly with at least 120 members and a Senate with no more than half the number of members of the National Assembly. Members of parliament serve five-year terms. The government is headed by a premier, who must have the support of two thirds of the members of the National Assembly.

History
Early History to Independence: The Funan empire was established in what is now Cambodia in the 1st cent. A.D. By the 3d cent. the Funanese, under the leadership of Fan Shih-man (reigned 205–25), had conquered their neighbors and extended their sway to the lower Mekong River. In the 4th cent., according to Chinese records, an Indian Brahmin extended his rule over Funan, introducing Hindu customs, the Indian legal code, and the alphabet of central India.

In the 6th cent. Khmers from the rival Chen-la state to the north overran Funan. With the rise of the Khmer Empire, Cambodia became dominant in SE Asia. Angkor, the capital of the Khmer empire, was one of the world's great architectural achievements. After the fall of the empire (15th cent.), however, Cambodia was the prey of stronger neighbors. To pressure from Siam on the western frontier was added in the 17th cent. pressure from Annam on the east; the kings of Siam and the lords of Hue alike asserted overlordship and claims to tribute. In the 18th cent. Cambodia lost three western provinces to Siam and the region of Cochin China to the Annamese.

Intrigue and wars on Cambodian soil continued into the 19th cent., and in 1854 the king of Cambodia appealed for French intervention. A French protectorate was formally established in 1863, and French influence was consolidated by a treaty in 1884. Cambodia became part of the Union of Indochina in 1887. In 1907 a French-Siamese treaty restored Cambodia's western provinces. In World War II, under Japanese occupation, Cambodia again briefly lost those provinces to Siam.

In Jan., 1946, France granted Cambodia self-government within the French Union; a constitution was promulgated in May, 1947. A treaty signed in 1949 raised the country's status to that of an associated state in the French Union, but limitations on the country's sovereignty persisted. King Norodom Sihanouk campaigned for complete independence, which was finally granted in 1953. Early in 1954, Communist Viet Minh troops from Vietnam invaded Cambodia. The Geneva Conference of 1954 led to an armistice providing for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Cambodia. An agreement between France and Cambodia (Dec., 1954) severed the last vestige of French control over Cambodian policy. Cambodia withdrew from the French Union in 1955 and was admitted into the United Nations later that year.

French translation by Anh Tho Andres @YourVietnamExpert.com

Vietnamese translation by Cuong Phan, Kim Hoang, Bich Hong, Bao Han
German translation by Han Dang-Klein
Italian translation by Phan Cong Danh
Japanese translation by Hong Anh


About YourVietbooks.comYourVietBooks is a collection of books on Vietnam for Readers who are interested in Vietnam's History, Culture, Language, Economy, or Business. Most titles are in English, but some are only available in French or Vietnamese. We can provide interested parties an accurate translation of some parts of the books for your research purposes. Translations are done by YourVietnamExpert's qualified and experienced translators. contact@yourvietnamexpert.com

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