The History of Cambodia

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Developing Country- Cambodia

In between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam sits the country of Cambodia. Their early history is unrecorded but most Cambodians consider themselves descendants of the Angkor Empire that stretched most of Southeast Asia. Under constrain threats to invade by Thailand and Vietnam, the king of France placed Cambodia under France’s protection in 1963. This only lasted until 1953 when they gained full independence from France after the occupation of the Japanese during World War II.

The most dramatic event that has happened in Cambodia’s history was the Khmer Rouge genocide. It started when Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and forced everyone out of the cities and towns at gun point. Even the hospital patients were evacuated; one could see patients being pushed down the road still in their hospital beds. There were a total of 2.5 million in the city all told to evacuate to the countryside by Khmer Rouge forces; a majority of these soldiers were boys and young teenagers. This period of four years, cost close to 2 million lives through the combined result of political executions, starvation, and forced labor.

In December of 1978 the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside. This started a 10 year Vietnamese occupation and 13 years of civil war. Then in 1991 the Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire. In 1993 4 million eligible Cambodians participated in the elections. Those running parties then established a multiparty liberal democracy in the framework of a constitutional monarchy, with the former Prince Sihanouk was made the King, while, Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen became first and second Prime Ministers in the Royal Cambodian Government. The constitution provides for a wide range of internationally recognized human rights. The last of the Khmer Rouge finally surrendered in 1999. Then later in that same year, Cambodia became a member of ASEAN, and after centuries of isolation they became a full-fledged member of the Southeast Asian community. Most of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders have been tried or are awaiting trial for crimes against humanity by the UN. With the leaders finally getting what they deserve, Cambodia is free to let of its dark past and look forward to the future. In 1953, after 90 years of French colonial rule, Cambodia gained independence under the leadership of Norodom Sihanouk. Since then Cambodia has had four types of political systems: a constitutional monarchy (1953–70), a military-dominated republic led (1970–75), a communist regime (1975–79) and a socialist republic (1979–92). In 1993, a constitution was created turning Cambodia back into a constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minster (Hun Sen) is the head of the government while the King of Cambodia (Norodom Sihamoni) is the head of the state. The Prime Minster is appointed by the King with the approval of the National Assembly. Cambodia is divided into 24 provinces including the capital and the provinces are subdivided into 159 districts and 26 municipalities. In the recent years the Cambodian has been accused of oppression and corruption. The prime minster (Hun Sen) was a former Khmer Rouge commander who was originally put in control by the Vietnamese and he maintained his political position by violence and oppression when he saw fit. In 1997, fearing the growing power of his co-Prime Minister (Prince Norodom Ranariddh), Hun launched a rebellion, using the army to expel Ranariddh and his supporters. Ranariddh was forced to flee to Paris while other opponents of Hun Sen were arrested, tortured and some executed. Cambodian government has also been accused of corruption in the sale of large areas of land to foreign investors, which resulted in the eviction of thousands of villagers. The government has also been bribing villagers in exchange for grants to exploit Cambodia's oil wealth and mineral resources. Cambodia is constantly listed as one of the...
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