Cambodia: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government in the country of Cambodia.



Location--In the large, fertile basin of the lower Mekong River in Southeast Asia. Cambodia is bordered by South Vietnam to the east, the Gulf of Siam to the southwest, Thailand to the northwest, and Laos to the north.

How Created--One of the oldest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. Descended from Funan, which some historians believe was founded prior to the 1st century A.D. At that time, Funan's power extended over much of present day Thailand, Laos, and Malaysia.

For much of its history, Cambodia has been subject to the intense pressures of her 2 neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam. Both have established protectorates over Cambodia at various times.

When the French seized Cambodia in the 19th century, they established the present boundaries, most of which consist of low mountain ranges.

However, boundary disputes continue to occur. For instance, Thailand and Cambodia battled each other for most of the 1960s over possession of a temple. This dispute was finally settled in favor of Cambodia by the World Court, but Thailand declared it was only a temporary solution.

Size--69,898 sq. mi. (181,035 sq. km.), about the size of Missouri.

Population--7.5 million: Khmer, 85%; Vietnamese, 7%; Chinese, 6%; Cham, 1%; hill tribes and others, 1%. 75% Buddhist, 1% Muslim (the Chams), 1% Christian.

Who Rules--In March, 1970, the right wing overthrew chief of state King Norodom Sihanouk with the aid of CIA-trained Khmer Serei troops and perhaps the CIA itself. The right, under Lon Nol, established the Khmer Republic. Sihanouk, who had been traveling abroad, joined with the Khmer Rouge guerrilla movement to form the Royal Government of the National Union of Cambodia (known by its French acronym, GRUNK).

In April, 1975, the Khmer Rouge defeated the troops of Lon Nol and took control of Cambodia.

Who REALLY Rules--GRUNK projects a democratic image, but it is at least influenced by its chief foreign supporters, China and North Vietnam.

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