Cambodia is a kingdom located in Southeast Asia. It is one of the poorest countries in Asia. The largest city of Cambodia is Phnom Penh, which i also the economic, politcal and cultural centre of the country. Despite the lack of money, Cambodia is a country with very rich history, unique culture and breathtaking nature. About fifteen milion people live in Cambodia nowadays. Most of them are Buddhists. The official language is Khmer but some of the educated people can also speak French or English.
Cambodia’s current look is fundamentally influenced by its history. The country belonged to the great federation of the Hindu Kingdom till the ninth century. The Buddhists faith came to Cambodia along with the Angkor empire, which lasted there from tenth to thirteenth century. The most famous Cambodia’s monument, the Angkor Vat temple, also dates from this time. Current Cambodia’s governemnt wants to conserve the atmosphere and uniqueness of this place. That is why no other building in Cambodia can stay as tall as the Angkor Vat.
The Angkor era ended due to invasions from neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam or Siam (today’s Thailand). The roots of today’s grudge of Cambodian people towards near countries thus date deeply in the past. Cambodia, shaken by the invasions, asked France to protect the country. In 1887 became the Cambodian Kingdom a part of the French Indochina. During the second world war was the Cambodian governement briefly ruled by the Japanese. France took power in Cambodia again at the end of the WWII. Cambodia became independent in 1953.
April 1975 is the time, when particularly dark period began for the Cambodian people. The Khmer Rouge took power in the country back then. They occupied the capital Phnom Penh and executed the government officials and prominent personalities at the local stadium. All that was just a beginning. This was followed by four years of brutality. During this time, the Khmer Rouge ledy by Pol Pot murdered about two milion of Cambodians. That was about a quarter of the original Cambodian population back then. The Khmer Rouge were killing men, women, children and old people on so-called „Killing Fields“. The Khmer Rouge’s victims were killed and buried at those fields. The Khmer Rouge were intentionally killing intellectuals, scientists, doctors or teachers. They killed anyone, who could stand against them. The Khmer Rouge created prisons from schools. They brutally tortured their prisoners there. In one of them, prison Tuol Sleng, is nowadays a museum, which whos the horror of the Khmer Rouge’s era. For example, out of seventeen thousand prisoners at Tuol Sleng only twelve people survived the terror.
In addition, the Khmer Rouge founded the village gulags in the country, they abolished money, they closed the state borders, canceled public transport, prohibited the access to information and established a general obligation to work. Rudí Cambodian people had to work for about 12 to 16 hours per day. The rule of the Khmer Rouge officialy ende dat 1979, when the Vietnamese troops raided into Cambodia. Vietnam have ruled the country for about ten years since then. The leader of the Khmer Rouge Pol Pot died in 1998. Several representatives of this murderous movement still live in Cambodia, some of the former murderers even occupy high government positions.
The country is nowadays led by the king Norodom Sihamoni. He speaks Czech flutently, because he has lived in Czechoslovakia for several years. Although it’s been almost fourty years since the reign of the Khmer Rouge, the country is still recovering from it. One of the consequences of the reign of the Khmer Rouge is a woeful lack of teachers. This is connected with low education and high illiteracy in the country. Cambodia also suffers from poverty and its associated malnutrition. At least thirty percent of the population are malnourished. Some of the Cambodians are forced to live on the landfills, where they search for something they could sell. The biggest environmental problem of Cambodia is drastic deforestation of the territory. While in 1969 the rainforest covered about 70 percent of Cambodia, in 2007 the forests covered only about 3.1 percent of the territory.
Despite all the horrors and current difficulties, Cambodia is slowly opening to the wolrd. The tourists start to discover all its beauties. Most of them come to Cambodia to see the Angkor Var temple. Others search for beaches or rainforests. The important thing is that the Cambodia gets better each day. Also the transport between the big cities improves. It is therefore possible that Cambodia will become as famous and popular as its neighbours, such as Thailand or Vietnam. And that’s what it really deserves.