Cambodia: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world Burma including their place in the Vietnam War and biography of Prince Sihanouk.



Following national independence Sihanouk attempted to steer a course of international neutrality, condemning violations of Cambodian territory by all parties, including the U.S., South Vietnam, and the Vietnamese communists. In 1969 the U.S. military, under orders from President Richard Nixon and his adviser Henry Kissinger, began a major bombing campaign in eastern Cambodia which was kept secret from the U.S. Congress and the people. Following the March, 1970, coup, the U.S. and South Vietnam mounted a massive invasion across Cambodia's border, officially aimed at communist "sanctuaries."

The invasion actually fed the Cambodian civil war. Sources on all sides predicted the Republic would fall when the U.S. Congress halted American bombing in Cambodia in August, 1973, but the Lon Nol regime remained in power in the urban areas for another 20 months.

The Prince-or Samdech-Norodom Sihanouk, a questionable hero to outsiders, still commands a following within Cambodia. Chosen King by the French at age 19 in 1941, he crusaded for independence. In 1955 he gave the throne to his father, but continued in government. In 1960, when his father died, he again became chief of state, but he retained his nonroyal title. While balancing domestic political forces and foreign influences, he worked as a movie actor and developed a reputation as a dilettante.

He is currently a figurehead leader, and he has relatively little influence within GRUNK.

Cambodians, or Khmers, constitute 85% of the population. For the most part, they are rice farmers scattered about the countryside in small villages. The few who are not farmers earn their livelihood by working for the Government or the Buddhist Church.

Until the Khmer Rouge take-over, the Chinese were the most powerful ethnic minority. Thanks to the policies of the French during the colonial period, the approximately 400,000 Chinese held a virtual stranglehold on the Cambodian economy.

The Chams, the descendants of the former kingdom of Champa, now number 100,000. Most are Muslims and speak a Malayo-Polynesian language, but are regarded as full citizens of Cambodia. They work primarily as lumberjacks, cattle herders, and fishermen.

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