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Background Notes: Cambodia, January 1996

Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State

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Official Name:  Kingdom of Cambodia



Area: 181,040 sq. km. (69,900 sq. mi.); about the size of Missouri.
Cities: Capital-Phnom Penh (pop. between 1 million and 1.2 million).  
Other cities-Battambang, Siem Reap, Kompong Cham, Kompong 
Speu, Kompong Thom.
Terrain: Central plain drained by the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and 
Mekong and Bassac Rivers.  Heavy forests away from the rivers and 
the lake, mountains in the southwest (Cardamom Mountains) and north 
(Dangrek Mountains) along the border with Thailand.
Climate:  Tropical monsoon with rainy season June-Oct. and dry 
season Nov.-May.


Nationality: Noun and adjective: Cambodian(s), Khmer.
Population (1995): 10.56 million.
Avg. annual growth rate: 4.1%.  Births--44 births/1000 population.  
Deaths--16 deaths/1000 population.  Health: Infant mortality--108 
deaths/1000 live births.  Life expectancy-- 48 years male/51 years 
Ethnic groups: Cambodian 90%; Chinese and Vietnamese 5% each; 
small numbers of hill tribes, Chams, and Burmese.
Religions: Theravada Buddhism 95%; Islam; animism; atheism.
Languages: Khmer (official) spoken by more than 95% of the 
population, including minorities; some French still spoken; English 
increasingly popular as a second language.
Literacy:  35.2%.


The Royal Cambodian Government (RCG), a constitutional monarchy 
formed on the basis of elections internationally recognized as free and 
fair, was established on September 24, 1993.  The RCG faces an armed 
threat from the Khmer Rouge (KR), also known as the Party of 
Democratic Kampuchea (PDK), who when they ruled Cambodia from 
1975-1979 compiled one of the worst records of human rights abuse in 
this century.
Administrative subdivisions: 19 provinces and municipalities.
Independence: November 9, 1953.
Constitution: September 24, 1993.
Elections: Elections overseen by the UN in May 1993.
Principal Government Officials:
     King and Head of State- Norodom Sihanouk
     First Prime Minister- Norodom Ranariddh
     Second Prime Minister- Hun Sen
National Legislature: The National Assembly, consisting of 120 elected 
Political parties and leaders:  RCG Coalition: National United Front for 
an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia 
(FUNCINPEC) led by First Prime Minister Prince Ranariddh; 
Cambodian People's Party (CPP) led by Second Prime Minister Hun 
Sen; the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP); and the Liberal 
Democratic Party (Moulinaka).  Outside the RCG: Party of Democratic 
Kampuchea (the Khmer Rouge), nominally led by Khieu Samphan.
Diplomatic Relations:  The RCG has established diplomatic relations 
with most countries, including the United States.  Cambodia does not 
have diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Flag:  Two horizontal blue bands, divided by a wider red band on 
which is centered a white stylized representation of Angkor Wat.


GDP: $2.92 billion (1995).
Per capita GDP: $275 (1995).
Inflation (1995): 6%.
Natural resources: Timber, gemstones, some iron ore, manganese and 
phosphate, hydroelectric potential from the Mekong River.
Agriculture: About 4,848,000 hectares (12 million acres) are 
unforested land; all are arable with irrigation but less than two million 
hectares are cultivated.
Products:  Rice, rubber, corn, meat, vegetables, dairy products, sugar, 
Industry: Types--rice milling, fishing, wood and wood products, 
textiles, cement, some rubber production.
Central Government Budget (1995): Revenues $223.5 million; 
Expenditure $407 million.  Budget deficit 13.5% of GDP; capital 
expenditure 5% of GDP, 34% of budget; defense spending 5.4% of 
GDP, 29% of budget.
Trade:  Exports: $358 million (1995 est.)--natural rubber, rice, pepper, 
wood; Major partners: Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong 
Kong, Indonesia;  Imports: $720 million (1994)--vehicles, fuels, 
consumer goods, machinery; Major Partners:  Singapore, Indonesia, 
Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong.  Trade with the US: Cambodian 
imports from US (1995) $41 million; exports to US (1994) $1.2 
Exchange rate:  Approximately 2,300 riels = $1 (June, 1995).
Economic Aid:  $179 million in disbursements by official donors in 
fiscal year 1994/5.  Major donors include Asian Development Bank 
(ADB), UN Development Program (UNDP), Australia, Canada, 
Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Thailand, the United 
Kingdom and the United States.  Principle foreign commercial 
investors: Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.

Membership in International Organizations

The RCG is a member of or is joining most major international 
organizations, including the UN and its specialized agencies such as the 
World Bank and International Monetary Fund.  The RCG is an Asian 
Development Bank (ADB) member and is expected to obtain full 
membership in ASEAN by 1997.


Although Cambodia had a rich and powerful past under the Hindu state 
of Funan and the Kingdom of Angkor, by the mid-19th century the 
country was on the verge of dissolution.  After repeated requests for 
French assistance, a protectorate was established in 1863.  By 1884, 
Cambodia was a virtual colony; soon after it was made part of the 
Indochina Union with Annam, Tonkin, Cochin-China, and Laos.

France continued to control the country even after the start of World 
War II through its Vichy government.  In 1945, the Japanese dissolved 
the colonial administration, and King Norodom Sihanouk declared an 
independent, anti-colonial government under Prime Minister Son Ngoc 
Thanh in March 1945.  This government was deposed by the Allies in 
October.  Many of Son Ngoc Thanh's supporters escaped and continued 
to fight for independence as the Khmer Issarak.

Although France recognized Cambodia as an autonomous kingdom 
within the French Union, the drive for total independence continued, 
resulting in a split between those who supported the political tactics of 
Sihanouk and those who supported the Khmer Issarak guerrilla 
movement.  In January 1953, Sihanouk named his father as regent and 
went into self-imposed exile, refusing to return until Cambodia gained 
genuine independence.

Full Independence

Sihanouk's actions hastened the French government's July 4, 1953 
announcement of its readiness to perfect the independence and 
sovereignty of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.  Full independence came 
on November 9, 1953, but the situation remained uncertain until a 1954 
conference was held in Geneva to settle the French-Indochina war.

All participants, except the United States and the State of Vietnam, 
associated themselves (by voice) with the final declaration.  The 
Cambodian delegation agreed to the neutrality of the three Indochinese 
states but insisted on a provision in the ceasefire agreement that left the 
Cambodian government free to call for outside military assistance 
should the Viet Minh or others threaten its territory.

Neutral Cambodia

Neutrality was the central element of Cambodian foreign policy during 
the 1950s and 1960s.  By the mid-1960s, parts of Cambodia's eastern 
provinces were serving as bases for North Vietnamese Army and Viet 
Cong (NVA/VC) forces operating against South Vietnam, and the port 
of Sihanoukville was being used to supply them.  As NVA/VC activity 
grew, the United States and South Vietnam became concerned, and in 
1969, the United States began a series of air raids against NVA/VC 
base areas inside Cambodia.

Throughout the 1960s, domestic politics polarized.  Opposition grew 
within the middle class and among leftists including Paris-educated 
leaders such as Son Sen, Ieng Sary, and Saloth Sar (later known as Pol 
Pot), who led an insurgency under the clandestine Communist Party of 
Kampuchea (CPK).  Sihanouk called these insurgents the Khmer 
Rouge, literally the "Red Khmer."  But the 1966 national assembly 
elections showed a significant swing to the right, and Gen. Lon Nol 
formed a new government, which lasted until 1967.  During 1968 and 
1969, the insurgency worsened.  In August 1969, Gen. Lon Nol formed 
a new government.  Prince Sihanouk went abroad for medical 
treatment in January 1970.

The Khmer Republic and the War

In March 1970, Gen. Lon Nol deposed Prince Sihanouk and assumed 
power.  Son Ngoc Thanh announced his support for the new 
government.  On October 9, the Cambodian monarchy was abolished, 
and the country was renamed the Khmer Republic.

Hanoi rejected the new republic's request for the withdrawal of 
NVA/VC troops and began to reinfiltrate some of the 2,000-4,000 
Cambodians who had gone to North Vietnam in 1954.  They became a 
cadre in the insurgency.

The United States moved to provide material assistance to the new 
government's armed forces, which were engaged against both the 
Khmer Rouge insurgents and NVA/VC forces.  In April 1970, US and 
South Vietnamese forces entered Cambodia in a campaign aimed at 
destroying NVA/VC base areas.  Although a considerable quantity of 
equipment was seized or destroyed, NVA/VC forces proved elusive 
and moved deeper into Cambodia.  NVA/VC units overran many 
Cambodian army positions while the Khmer Rouge expanded their 
small-scale attacks on lines of communication.

The Khmer Republic's leadership was plagued by disunity among its 
three principal figures:  Lon Nol, Sihanouk's cousin Sirik Matak, and 
National Assembly leader In Tam.  Lon Nol remained in power in part 
because none of the others was prepared to take his place.  In 1972, a 
constitution was adopted, a parliament elected, and Lon Nol became 
president.  But disunity, the problems of transforming a 30,000-man 
army into a national combat force of more than 200,000 men, and 
spreading corruption weakened the civilian administration and army.

The insurgency continued to grow, with supplies and military support 
provided by North Vietnam.  But inside Cambodia, Pol Pot and Ieng 
Sary asserted their dominance over the Vietnamese-trained 
communists, many of whom were purged.  At the same time, the 
Khmer Rouge forces became stronger and more independent of their 
Vietnamese patrons.  By 1973, the Khmer Rouge were fighting major 
battles against government forces on their own, and they controlled 
nearly 60% of Cambodia's territory and 25% of its population.

The government made three unsuccessful attempts to enter into 
negotiations with the insurgents, but by 1974, the Khmer Rouge were 
operating as divisions, and virtually all NVA/VC combat forces had 
moved into South Vietnam.  Lon Nol's control was reduced to small 
enclaves around the cities and main transportation routes.  More than 2 
million refugees from the war lived in Phnom Penh and other cities.

On New Year's Day 1975, Communist troops launched an offensive 
which, in 117 days of the hardest fighting of the war, destroyed the 
Khmer Republic.  Simultaneous attacks around the perimeter of Phnom 
Penh pinned down Republican forces, while other Khmer Rouge units 
overran fire bases controlling the vital lower Mekong resupply route.  
A US-funded airlift of ammunition and rice ended when Congress 
refused additional aid for Cambodia.  Phnom Penh and other cities 
were subjected to daily rocket attacks causing thousands of civilian 
casualties.  Phnom Penh surrendered on April 17--5 days after the US 
mission evacuated Cambodia.

Democratic Kampuchea

Many Cambodians welcomed the arrival of peace, but the Khmer 
Rouge soon turned Cambodia--which it called Democratic Kampuchea 
(DK)--into a land of horror.  Immediately after its victory, the new 
regime ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns, sending the 
entire urban population out into the countryside to till the land.  
Thousands starved or died of disease during the evacuation.  Many of 
those forced to evacuate the cities were resettled in new villages, which 
lacked food, agricultural implements, and medical care.  Many starved 
before the first harvest, and hunger and malnutrition--bordering on 
starvation--were constant during those years.  Those who resisted or 
who questioned orders were immediately executed, as were most 
military and civilian leaders of the former regime who failed to 
disguise their pasts.

Within the CPK, the Paris-educated leadership--Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, 
Nuon Chea, and Son Sen--was in control.  A new constitution in 
January 1976 established Democratic Kampuchea as a Communist 
People's Republic, and a 250-member Assembly of the Representatives 
of the People of Kampuchea (PRA) was selected in March to choose 
the collective leadership of a State Presidium, the chairman of which 
became the head of state.

Prince Sihanouk resigned as head of state on April 4.  On April 14, 
after its first session, the PRA announced that Khieu Samphan would 
chair the State Presidium for a 5-year term.  It also picked a 15-member 
cabinet headed by Pol Pot as prime minister.  Prince Sihanouk was put 
under virtual house arrest.

The new government sought to restructure Cambodian society 
completely.  Remnants of the old society were abolished and Buddhism 
suppressed.  Agriculture was collectivized, and the surviving part of the 
industrial base was abandoned or placed under state control.  Cambodia 
had neither a currency nor a banking system.  The regime controlled 
every aspect of life and reduced everyone to the level of abject 
obedience through terror.  Torture centers were established, and 
detailed records were kept of the thousands murdered there.  Public 
executions of those considered unreliable or with links to the previous 
government were common.  Few succeeded in escaping the military 
patrols and fleeing the country.

Solid estimates of the numbers who died between 1975 and 1979 are 
not available, but it is likely that hundreds of thousands were brutally 
executed by the regime.  Hundreds of thousands more died of 
starvation and disease (both under the Khmer Rouge and during the 
Vietnamese invasion in 1978).  Estimates of the dead range from 1 to 3 
million, out of a 1975 population estimated at 7.3 million.

Democratic Kampuchea's relations with Vietnam and Thailand 
worsened rapidly as a result of border clashes and ideological 
differences.  While communist, the CPK was fiercely anti-Vietnamese, 
and most of its members who had lived in Vietnam were purged.  
Democratic Kampuchea established close ties with China, and the 
Cambodian-Vietnamese conflict became part of the Sino-Soviet 
rivalry, with Moscow backing Vietnam.  Border clashes worsened 
when Democratic Kampuchea's military attacked villages in Vietnam.  
The regime broke relations with Hanoi in December 1977, protesting 
Vietnam's attempt to create an Indochina Federation.  In mid-1978, 
Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia, advancing about 30 miles 
before the arrival of the rainy season.

In December 1978, Vietnam announced formation of the Kampuchean 
United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS) under Heng Samrin, a 
former DK division commander.  It was composed of Khmer 
Communists who had remained in Vietnam after 1975 and officials 
from the eastern sector--like Heng Samrin and Hun Sen--who had fled 
to Vietnam from Cambodia in 1978.  In late December 1978, 
Vietnamese forces launched a full invasion of Cambodia, capturing 
Phnom Penh on January 7 and driving the remnants of Democratic 
Kampuchea's army westward toward Thailand.

The Vietnamese Occupation

On January 10, 1979, the Vietnamese installed Heng Samrin as head of 
state in the new People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK).  The 
Vietnamese army continued its pursuit of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge 
forces.  At least 600,000 Cambodians displaced during the Pol Pot era 
and the Vietnamese invasion began streaming to the Thai border in 
search of refuge.  The international community responded with a 
massive relief effort coordinated by the United States through UNICEF 
and the World Food Program.  More than $400 million was provided 
between 1979 and 1982, of which the United States contributed nearly 
$100 million.  At one point, more than 500,000 Cambodians were 
living along the Thai-Cambodian border and more than 100,000 in 
holding centers inside Thailand.

Vietnam's occupation army of as many as 200,000 troops controlled the 
major population centers and most of the countryside from 1979 to 
September 1989.  The Heng Samrin regime's 30,000 troops were 
plagued by poor morale and widespread desertion.  Resistance to 
Vietnam's occupation continued, and there was some evidence that 
Heng Samrin's PRK forces provided logistic and moral support to the 

A large portion of the Khmer Rouge's military forces eluded 
Vietnamese troops and established themselves in remote regions.  The 
non-communist resistance, consisting of a number of groups which had 
been fighting the Khmer Rouge after 1975--including Lon Nol-era 
soldiers--coalesced in 1979-80 to form the Khmer People's National 
Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF), which pledged loyalty to former 
Prime Minister Son Sann, and Moulinaka (Movement pour la 
Liberation Nationale de Kampuchea), loyal to Prince Sihanouk.  In 
1979, Son Sann formed the Khmer People's National Liberation Front 
(KPNLF) to lead the political struggle for Cambodia's independence.  
Prince Sihanouk formed his own organization, FUNCINPEC, and its 
military arm, the Armee Nationale Sihanoukienne (ANS) in 1981.

Warfare followed a wet season/dry season rhythm after 1980.  The 
heavily-armed Vietnamese forces conducted offensive operations 
during the dry seasons, and the resistance forces held the initiative 
during the rainy seasons.  In 1982, Vietnam launched a major offensive 
against the main Khmer Rouge base at Phnom Melai in the Cardamom 
Mountains.  Vietnam switched its target to civilian camps near the Thai 
border in 1983, launching a series of massive assaults, backed by armor 
and heavy artillery, against camps belonging to all three resistance 
groups.  Hundreds of civilians were injured in these attacks, and more 
than 80,000 were forced to flee to Thailand.  Resistance military forces, 
however, were largely undamaged.  In the 1984-85 dry season 
offensive, the Vietnamese again attacked base camps of all three 
resistance groups.  Despite stiff resistance from the guerrillas, the 
Vietnamese succeeded in eliminating the camps in Cambodia and 
drove both the guerrillas and civilian refugees into neighboring 
Thailand.  The Vietnamese concentrated on consolidating their gains 
during the 1985-86 dry season, including an attempt to seal guerrilla 
infiltration routes into the country by forcing Cambodian laborers to 
construct trench and wire fence obstacles and minefields along 
virtually the entire Thai-Cambodian border.

Within Cambodia, Vietnam had only limited success in establishing its 
client Heng Samrin regime, which was dependent on Vietnamese 
advisors at all levels.  Security in some rural areas was tenuous, and 
major transportation routes were subject to interdiction by resistance 
forces.  The presence of Vietnamese throughout the country and their 
intrusion into nearly all aspects of Cambodian life alienated much of 
the populace.  The settlement of Vietnamese nationals, both former 
residents  and new immigrants, further exacerbated anti-Vietnamese 
sentiment.  Reports of the numbers involved vary widely with some 
estimates as high as 1 million.  By the end of this decade, Khmer 
nationalism began to reassert itself against the traditional Vietnamese 

In 1986, Hanoi claimed to have begun withdrawing part of its 
occupation forces.  At the same time, Vietnam continued efforts to 
strengthen its client regime, the PRK, and its military arm, the 
Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Armed Forces (KPRAF).  These 
withdrawals continued over the next 2 years, although actual numbers 
were difficult to verify.  Vietnam's proposal to withdraw its remaining 
occupation forces in 1989-90--the result of ongoing international 
pressure--forced the PRK to begin economic and constitutional reforms 
in an attempt to ensure future political dominance.  In April 1989, 
Hanoi and Phnom Penh announced that final withdrawal would take 
place by the end of September 1989.

The military organizations of Prince Sihanouk (ANS) and of former 
Prime Minister Son Sann (KPNLAF) underwent significant military 
improvement during the 1988-89 period and both expanded their 
presence in Cambodia's interior.  These organizations provide a 
political alternative to the Vietnamese-supported People's Republic of 
Kampuchea [PRK] and the murderous Khmer Rouge.  The last 
Vietnamese troops left Cambodia in September of 1989.

Peace Efforts

From July 30 to August 30, 1989, representatives of 18 countries, the 
four Cambodian parties, and the UN Secretary General met in Paris in 
an effort to negotiate a comprehensive settlement.  They hoped to 
achieve those objectives seen as crucial to the future of post-occupation 
Cambodia: a verified withdrawal of the remaining Vietnamese 
occupation troops, the prevention of the return to power of the Khmer 
Rouge, and genuine self-determination for the Cambodian people.

The Paris Conference on Cambodia was able to make some progress in 
such areas as the workings of an international control mechanism, the 
definition of international guarantees for Cambodia's independence and 
neutrality, plans for the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons, 
the eventual reconstruction of the Cambodia economy, and ceasefire 
procedures.  However, complete agreement among all parties on a 
comprehensive settlement remained elusive until August 28, 1990, 
when after eight months of negotiations, a framework for 
comprehensive political settlement was agreed upon.

Cambodia's Renewal

On October 23, 1991, the Paris Conference reconvened to sign a 
comprehensive settlement giving the UN full authority to supervise a 
ceasefire, repatriate the displaced Khmer along the border with 
Thailand, disarm and demobilize the factional armies, and to prepare 
the country for free and fair elections

Prince Sihanouk, President of the Supreme National Council of 
Cambodia (SNC), and other members of the SNC returned to Phnom 
Penh in November, 1991, to begin the resettlement process in 
Cambodia.  The UN Advance Mission for Cambodia (UNAMIC) was 
deployed at the same time to maintain liaison among the factions and 
begin demining operations to expedite the repatriation of 
approximately 370,000 Cambodians from Thailand.

On March 16, 1992, the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia 
(UNTAC), under UNSYG Special Representative Yasushi Akashi and 
Lt. General John Sanderson, arrived in Cambodia to begin 
implementation of the UN Settlement Plan.  The UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees began full-scale repatriation in March, 
1992.  UNTAC grew into a 22,000 strong civilian and military 
peacekeeping force to conduct free and fair elections for a constituent 
assembly.  Over four million Cambodians (about 90% of eligible 
voters) participated in the May 1993 elections, although the Khmer 
Rouge or Party of Democratic Kampuchea (PDK), whose forces were 
never actually disarmed or demobilized, barred some people from 
participating in the 10-15 percent of the country (holding six percent of 
the population) it controls.  Prince Ranariddh's FUNCINPEC Party was 
the top vote recipient with 45.5% vote followed by Hun Sen's 
Cambodian People's Party and the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party, 
respectively.  FUNCINPEC then entered into a coalition with the other 
parties that had participated in the election.  The parties represented in 
the 120-member Assembly proceeded to draft and approve a new 
Constitution, which was promulgated September 24.  It established a 
multiparty liberal democracy in the framework of a constitutional 
monarchy, with the former Prince Sihanouk elevated to King.  Prince 
Ranariddh and Hun Sen became First and Second Prime Ministers, 
respectively, in the Royal Cambodian Government (RCG).  The 
Constitution provides for a wide range of internationally recognized 
human rights.


In spite of recent progress, the Cambodian economy continues to suffer 
from the legacy of decades of war and internal strife.  Per capita 
income, although rapidly increasing, is low compared with most 
neighboring countries.  The main domestic activity on which most rural 
households depend is agriculture and its related sub-sectors.  
Manufacturing output is varied but is not very extensive and is mostly 
conducted on a small-scale and informal basis.  The service sector is 
heavily concentrated in trading activities and catering-related services.

During 1995, the government implemented firm stabilization policies 
under difficult circumstances.  Overall, macroeconomic performance 
was good.  Growth in 1995 was estimated at 7% because of improved 
agricultural production (rice in particular). Strong growth in 
construction and services continued.  Inflation dropped from 26% in 
1994 to only 6% in 1995.  Imports increased as a result of the 
availability of external financing.  Exports also increased, due to an 
increase in log exports.  With regard to the budget, both the current and 
overall deficits were lower than originally targeted.

Cambodia's emerging democracy has received strong international 
support.  Under the mandate carried out by the United Nations 
Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), $1.72 billion was spent 
in an effort to bring basic security, stability and democratic rule to the 
country.  Regarding economic assistance, official donors had pledged 
$880 million at the Ministerial Conference on the Rehabilitation of 
Cambodia (MCRRC) in Tokyo in June 1992, to which pledges of $119 
million were added in September 1993 at the meeting of the 
International Committee on the Reconstruction of Cambodia (ICORC) 
in Paris, and $643 million at the March 1994 ICORC meeting in 
Tokyo.  To date, therefore, the total amount pledged for Cambodia's 
rehabilitation is approximately $1.6 billion.

The Splendors of Angkor

Over a period of 300 years, between 900 and 1200 AD, the Khmer 
Kingdom of Angkor produced some of the world's most magnificent 
architectural masterpieces on the northern shore of the Tonle Sap, near 
the present town of Siem Reap.  The Angkor area stretches 15 miles 
east to west and 5 miles north to south.  Some 72 major temples or 
other buildings dot the area.

The principal temple, Angkor Wat, was built between 1112 and 1150 
by Suryavarman II.  With walls nearly one-half mile on each side, 
Angkor Wat portrays the Hindu cosmology with the central towers 
representing Mount Meru, home of the gods; the outer walls, the 
mountains enclosing the world; and the moat, the oceans beyond.  
Angkor Thom, the capital city built after the Cham sack of 1177, is 
surrounded by a 300-foot wide moat.  Construction of Angkor Thom 
coincided with a change from Hinduism to Buddhism.  Temples were 
altered to display images of the Buddha, and Angkor Wat became a 
major Buddhist shrine.

During the 15th century, nearly all of Angkor was abandoned after 
Siamese attacks, except Angkor Wat, which remained a shrine for 
Buddhist pilgrims.  The great city and temples remained largely 
cloaked by the forest until the late 19th century when French 
archaeologists began a long restoration process.  France established the 
Angkor Conservancy in 1908 to direct restoration of the Angkor 
complex.  For the next 64 years, the conservancy worked to clear away 
the forest, repair foundations, and install drains to protect the buildings 
from their most insidious enemy:  water.  After 1953, the conservancy 
became a joint project of the French and Cambodian Governments.  
Some temples were carefully taken apart stone by stone and 
reassembled on concrete foundations.  Since the Royal Cambodian 
Government came to power in 1993, international tourism to Angkor 
has been on the increase.


The United States recognized Cambodia on February 7, 1950, and 
between 1955 and 1963 provided $409.6 million in economic grant aid 
and $83.7 million in military assistance.  This aid was used primarily to 
repair damage caused by the first Indochina war, to support internal 
security forces, and for the construction of an all-weather road to the 
seaport of Sihanoukville, which gave Cambodia its first direct access to 
the sea and access to the southwestern hinterlands.

Relations deteriorated in the early 1960s.  Diplomatic relations were 
broken by Cambodia in May 1965 but were reestablished on July 2, 
1969.  US relations continued after the establishment of the Khmer 
Republic until the US mission was evacuated on April 12, 1975.  
During the 1970-75 war, the United States provided $1.18 billion in 
military assistance and $503 million in economic assistance.

The United States condemned the brutal character of the Khmer Rouge 
regime between 1975 and 1979.  At the same time, the United States 
opposed the military occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam and 
supported ASEAN's efforts to achieve a comprehensive political 
settlement of the problem.  This was accomplished on October 23, 
1991, when the Paris Conference reconvened to sign a comprehensive 
settlement.  The United States opened a Mission in Phnom Penh on 
November 11, 1991, headed by Mr. Charles H. Twining, Jr., designated 
U.S. Special Representative to the SNC.  On January 3, 1992, the U.S. 
embargo was lifted, normalizing economic relations with Cambodia.  
The U.S. also ended blanket opposition to lending to Cambodia by 
international financial institutions.  When the freely-elected Royal 
Cambodian Government was formed on September 24, 1993, the 
United States and the Kingdom of Cambodia immediately established 
full diplomatic relations.  The United States continues to support efforts 
in Cambodia to build democratic institutions, promote human rights, 
foster economic development, eliminate corruption, improve security, 
achieve the fullest possible accounting for POW/MIAs, and to bring 
members of the Khmer Rouge to justice for their crimes.


A passport is required for travel to Cambodia.  An airport visa valid for 
a one-month stay is available upon arrival in the country from the 
Ministry of National Security for a fee (currently $20).  Information on 
travel in Cambodia may be obtained by contacting the Royal Embassy 
of Cambodia, 4500/4530 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011; tel. 
(202) 726-7742; fax. (202) 726-8381.  Updated information on travel 
and security in Cambodia is available through the U.S. Department of 
State (202-647-5225) or the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh (855-23-
426-436).  Americans in Cambodia are encouraged to register with the 
U.S. Embassy.

[end of document]

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