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Kingdom of Cambodia, Gulf of Thailand, socialism, Phnom Penh, Siam

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Cambodia, country in Southeast Asia, also known as Kampuchea. More than a thousand years ago, Cambodia was the center of the Khmer (Cambodian) kingdom of Angkor, a great empire that dominated Southeast Asia for 600 years. A monarchy since ancient times, Cambodia was a French protectorate from 1863 to 1953. A republic replaced the monarchy in 1970, and in 1975 a Communist regime known as the Khmer Rouge took power, naming the country Democratic Kampuchea. The Khmer Rouge’s brutal repression and radical socialist reforms devastated Cambodia’s society and economy. In 1979 anti-Khmer Rouge Communist forces from Vietnam and Cambodia overthrew the Khmer Rouge and established a more moderate socialist state. In 1989 the country abandoned socialism, and in 1993 a new constitution restored the monarchy. Cambodia’s official name is the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Cambodia is bounded on the northeast by Laos, on the east and southeast by Vietnam, on the west and northwest by Thailand, and on the southwest by the Gulf of Thailand (Siam). The country’s capital and largest city is Phnom Penh.


For younger readers

Green, Robert. Cambodia. Lucent, 2003. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Sheehan, Sean. Cambodia. Marshall Cavendish, 1996. For readers in grades 4 to 7.

Art and architecture of Southeast Asia

Dumarcay, Jacques.Trans. Michael Smithies. The Palaces of South-East Asia: Architecture and Customs. Oxford University Press, 1991. Extensive history of the royal architecture of Southeast Asia.

Girard-Geslan, Maud, ed.Trans. J. A. Underwood. Art of Southeast Asia. Abrams, 1998. Scholarly essays cover all regions; copiously illustrated.

Jessup, Helen Ibbitson, and Thierry Zephir, eds. Millennium of Glory: Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia. Thames & Hudson, 1997. Lavishly illustrated catalog of major exhibition of ancient sculpture.

Lee, Sherman E. A History of Far Eastern Art. 5th ed. Abrams, 1994. Standard survey of Asian art.

Rawson, Philip. The Art of Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Java, Bali. Praeger, 1967. Thames & Hudson, 1990. Useful one-volume overview.

Strachan, Paul. Imperial Pagan: Art and Architecture of Burma. University of Hawaii, 1990. Scholarly study of Burmese Buddhist art forms.

Van Beek, Steve. The Arts of Thailand. Rev. ed. Thames & Hudson, 1991. Tuttle, 1999. Broad examination of Thai art and architecture.

Southeast Asia: History and Culture

Barnes, Gina. The Rise of Civilization in the East: The Archeology of China, Korea and Japan. Thames & Hudson, 1999. Ancient history and archaeology of Southeast Asia.

Cox, Christopher R. Chasing the Dragon: Into the Heart of the Golden Triangle. Holt, 1996. Portrait of the illegal drug trade in Asia.

Gibney, Frank. The Pacific Century: America and Asia in a Changing World. Scribner, 1992. Survey of modern East Asia.

Girard-Gesian, Maud, and others.Trans. J. A. Underwood. Art of Southeast Asia. Abrams, 1998. More than 250 illustrations accompanied by text.

Guilick, John, ed. Adventurous Women in South-East Asia: Six Lives. Oxford University Press, 1995. Fascinating accounts of the experiences of six 19th-century women in Southeast Asia.

Hall, D. G. E. A History of South East Asia. 4th ed. St. Martin's, 1993. A modern classic.

Keay, John. Empire's End: A History of the Far East from Colonization to Hong Kong. Scribner, 1997. Historical account of the decline of Western colonial powers in Asia.

Leifer, Michael. Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia. Routledge, 1995. Begins with brief essays on ten Southeast Asian countries, followed by useful entries covering each region's history, personalities, and institutions.

Osborne, Milton. Southeast Asia: An Introductory History. 7th ed. Allen & Unwin, 1998. General survey presents the region as a coherent whole.

Pluvier, Jan M. Historical Atlas of South-East Asia. Brill, 1995. Well-written presentation of complex data. Includes 64 maps and 72 period descriptions of history.

Reid, Anthony. Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450-1680. 2 vols. Yale University Press, 1990-1995. Continuities in the economic and cultural history of Southeast Asia.

Sardesai, D. R. Southeast Asia: Past & Present. 4th ed. Westview, 1997. Southeast Asia from ancient to modern times.

Schmidt, Karl J. An Atlas and Survey of South Asian History. Sharpe, 1995. Includes 96 maps.

Viesti, Joseph F., and Diane Hall. Celebrate! in Southeast Asia. Lothrop, 1996. Portrays customs surrounding 11 Southeast Asian festivals; for younger readers.


Chandler, David P. A History of Cambodia. 3rd ed. Westview, 2000. A general history that covers the earliest period to 1954 in detail and summarizes events since then.

Chandler, David P. The Land and People of Cambodia. Harper, 1991. Introductory history and analysis intended for high school readers.

Chandler, David P. The Tragedy of Cambodian History: Politics, War, and Revolution Since 1945. Yale University Press, 1992. Sequel to his A History of Cambodia.

Dith, Pran. Children of Cambodia's Killing Fields: Memoirs by Survivors. Yale University Press, 1997. Cambodian refugee accounts of Khmer Rouge atrocities.

Jackson, Karl D. Cambodia, 1975-1978: Rendezvous with Death. Princeton University Press, Reprint, 1992. Essays on the Khmer Rouge, its policies, ideology, reign of terror, and its roots in Khmer society.

Kamm, Henry. Cambodia: Report from a Stricken Land. Arcade, 1998. A journalist with long experience in Cambodia writes an angry account of its tragedies.

Kiernan, Ben. The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979. Yale University Press, 1998. Author of more than a dozen studies of Cambodia, Kiernan uses more than 500 interviews to document the extent of the Cambodian catastrophe.

Livingston, Carol. Gecko Tails: A Journey Through Cambodia. Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1996. A journalist's portrait of Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge.

Martin, Marie Alexandrine. Cambodia: A Shattered Society. University of California Press, 1994. Geography and history of Cambodia, followed by an analysis of events in the 1970s, and concluding with a discussion of contemporary society.

Short, Philip. Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare. Holt, 2005. A BBC correspondent's search for explanations for the murderous regime of Pol Pot.


Chandler, David, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Professor of History, Monash University. Author of Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot,A History of Cambodia, and The Tragedy of Cambodian History.

Rooney, Dawn F., Ph.D. Independent Researcher. Author of Angkor: An Introduction to the Temples,BeteI Chewing Traditions in South-East Asia, and Khmer Ceramics.

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Article key phrases:

Kingdom of Cambodia, Gulf of Thailand, socialism, Phnom Penh, Siam, monarchy, Communist regime, new constitution, ancient times, largest city, Southeast Asia, Laos, Vietnam, capital, power, society, republic, economy, west, country, east, center, years

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