The State of Funan was situated in southern Cambodia and southern Vietnam and lasted for a period of 600 years. This dynasty gave way to the powerful Angkor Empire that was eventually responsible for establishing the Khmer Kingdom, as we know it today.
First Century AD
Establishment of a State called Funan
The State of Funan gave way to the powerful Angkor Empire
Angkor was invaded and eventually, completely ravaged
General Lon Nol, backed by the Americans, overthrew the Head of State
The People’s Republic of Kampuchea, supported by Vietnamese, liberated the capital
Cambodia, with the assistance of the Vietnamese re-built its economy
The Vietnamese withdrew from Cambodia and the country was re-named “State of Cambodia.”
The following generation of powerful kings that belonged to the Angkorian dynasty reigned for a period of 650 years. Their empire covered much of Southeast Asia. Their territory stretched from Burma, which lies east, to the South China Sea and further north, right up to southern China. Khmer kings, during this golden period of rule built the most ornate and extensive temples or prasats known to mankind. These spectacular constructions were built throughout the kingdom. Angkor Wat is, of course, the most famous. Besides building the most majestic prasats on earth, Khmer kings were also responsible for huge agricultural feats of engineering which included sophisticated irrigation systems, great water reservoirs, and countless canal systems that guaranteed food transport. Some of these systems are still in use today.
Angkor became the capital of a great kingdom and the centre for government, education, religion, and commerce. However, in 1431 a sudden shift of power took place. Angkor was invaded and eventually, completely ravaged. Mankind’s most predominant creation was plunged into total destruction. The entire population and wealth of a once proud civilization was abandoned and covered by tropical forest. Following the abandonment of Angkor, Cambodia’s capital population migrated south to Long Vek, then further to Ou Dong, and eventually to Phnom Penh. The destruction of the mighty Angkorian capital also caused a decline, adaptation, and eventual replacement of Hinduism. Theravada Buddhism became the national religion.
As war started to escalate in Vietnam, Cambodia’s borders increasingly became the targets of American and Vietnamese aggression. March 18, 1970, General Lon Nol, backed by the Americans, overthrew the Head of State. Consequently, Cambodia became deeply involved in the war, fighting mainly against the Khmer Rouge. Lon Nol’s control over Cambodia’s government lasted for a period of barely five years, until he was overthrown by the Khmer Rouge, headed by Pol Pot, on April 17, 1975. History repeated itself as soon as Pol Pot invaded. The entire population evacuated the city leaving a once vibrant capital in ruin and decay. The Khmer Rouge then proceeded to implement a “reign of terror” on Cambodia’s entire population. People were brutally forced to work as slaves in the rice fields. These people had to endure long periods of hard, painful labour while effectively being starved at the same time.
Pol Pot’s Kampuchean forced labour camps tortured, killed or starved to death an estimated two million people, including women and children. In 1979, The People’s Republic of Kampuchea, supported by Vietnamese, liberated the capital. This presented the opportunity for the country to become re-established once again. Throughout the 1980s, Cambodia, with the assistance of the Vietnamese re-built its economy. In 1989, the Vietnamese withdrew from Cambodia and the country was re-named “State of Cambodia.” Today, the Kingdom of Cambodia is once again a peaceful place to visit, the authoritarian, extreme-left Cambodian People’s Party remains in government.
Constitutional monarchy since 1993.