• For hundreds of years, Cambodia was at the heart of one of the greatest civilizations in Asia.
  • In the 1960s, Cambodia was at peace, while war raged in neighbouring Vietnam and Laos. At this time, Cambodia had one of the highest standards of living in South East Asia.
  • 1970-1975: First civil war. Estimates as to the number of victims in the civilian population of Cambodia range from 200'000 to 1.1 million people.
  • In 1975, the Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh and undertook an extremely radical and brutal restructuring of Cambodian society (closing the country's borders, isolating people from one another, abolishing social classes, establishing an agrarian society, etc.).
  • 1975-1979: Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the worst atrocity of the 20th Century was perpetrated. Over 2 million people perished under this regime.
  • 1979 to 1989: second civil war, Vietnamese troops fight guerilla units of the Khmer Rouge.
  • 1989 Vietnam withdraws from Cambodia.
  • 1991 an armistice is signed.
  • 1994 to 1996 renewed battles with the Khmer Rouge.
  • 1997: Pol Pot is sentenced in a public trial and dies shortly thereafter.

The country is still in the grips of the trauma wrought by the Khmer Rouge. The constant suffering of the recent past casts its shadow over everyone. The country's economy is in ruins; the majority of the Cambodian population earns less than a dollar per day. Since the entire country's intelligentsia was systematically persecuted and exterminated under the Khmer Rouge, very few teachers or doctors survived the regime.

Despite the horrors of the recent past and the oppressive poverty, Cambodia still radiates with breath-taking beauty and warmth. The day to day life of the Khmer people (this is how Cambodians are called), is strongly influenced by Buddhism. Their infectious sense of calm and passion for life enchant every visitor.

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