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Cambodia Overview- Tour guide

Little is known of the early history of Cambodia, although there is evidence of2 habitation in parts of the country as far back as 4000BC. Much of Cambodia is strewn with staggering artifacts of the dynasty that ruled throughout the 12th and early 13th centuries, based at the famous temple complex of Angkor Wat. These temples are regarded as some of the most astounding architectural creations worldwide. Large and intricate balustrades, pillars and causeways loom out of surrounding jungle. Yet these monuments are also a wistful chronicle of Cambodia’s comparable fall into ruin: by the end of the 15th century, Angkor had been abandoned.

Likewise, the magnificence of Cambodia is now marred by unexploded landmines and dangerous roads, largely abandoned by tourists until quite recently. Khmer Rouge Communist guerrillas took control of Cambodia in 1975 with Prime Minister Pol Pot at the helm. Pol Pot manufactured a unique ideology based on elements of Maoist thought and Medieval quasi-mysticism, rooted in the history of the Angkor state. ‘Year Zero’ was established in 1975, under which Cambodia was to be converted into a pure Communist state centered on basic agricultural production. Currency was abolished, intellectuals purged, churches and temples destroyed and thousands of urban dwellers driven into the countryside for ‘re-education’ and primitive labor. The outcome was a regime of horrific brutality, which was responsible for another of the 20th century’s genocides – it is estimated that one third of the population died during the four years of Khmer Rouge rule.

But tourists are now beginning to return to Cambodia. Pol Pot died of natural causes in 1998 and his death seemed to symbolise a collective ‘moving on’. Following the overthrow of the Khmers by the Vietnamese army, Phnom Penh, a ghost city under the Khmer Rouge, was re-populated by 1982. Although Cambodia drifted in and out of penury and semi-chaos during the 1980s, 1998 was also the year that Cambodia would finally comply with the international community and was reinstated as a member of ASEAN. Cambodians have also regained pride in their country, which is as beautiful as it ever was: for the traveller who seeks it, there is sprawling jungle, verdant fields, snaking rivers and golden beaches. Cambodia remains afflicted by poverty and authoritarian regimes that hide behind the veneer of democratic practice but for those who dare believe in it, there is also hope.

Cambodia shares borders in the north with Laos and Thailand, in the east with Vietnam and in the southwest with the Gulf of Thailand. The landscape comprises tropical rainforest and fertile cultivated land traversed by many rivers. In the northeast area rise highlands. The capital is located at the junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. The latter flows from a large inland lake, also called Tonle Sap, situated in the center of the country. There are numerous offshore islands along the southwest coast.


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