Cambodia, officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. The remains of this empire can be seen in the most popular tourism spot in Cambodia, Siem Reap; home to the legendary temples of Angkor, spectacular monuments unrivaled in scale and grandeur in SE Asia. The coastline is beautiful and blissfully undeveloped compared with some of the other regions.
I knew almost nothing about Cambodia… Along my journey, I discovered so many disturbing facts. Unfortunately, in the West is very little spoken about the terror that occurred in this country.
“In 1975 Phnom Penh was choked with up to 2 million refugees from the war between the then US-backed government and the Khmer Rouge. The city fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, who completely emptied it of civilians and allowed it to crumble for several years. The city’s small class of skilled or educated professionals was systematically murdered by Pol Pot, or driven into exile.”
Nearly a quarter of the country’s population at that time was murdered during the Killing Fields era between 1975–1979. Khmers have been to hell and back, struggling through years of bloodshed, poverty and political instability. Much of the population still subsists on less than the equivalent of US$1 a day. But thanks to an unbreakable spirit and infectious optimism, they have prevailed with their smiles intact. Cambodia’s real treasure is its people.
February 23, 2016