Map of Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam, Thailand, South China Sea
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Cambodia is a small country in South-east Asia, surrounded by Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Its southern coastline is on the Gulf of Thailand.

Cambodia was once known as the Khmer empire. While it has long been home of the famous Angkor Wat temple, Vietnam has claimed ownership of this and the surrounding land as well. The Khmer empire had constant wars and territorial gains and losses with the empires of Siam and Vietnam, though one of its greatest victories was against Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson, when King Jayavaraman VIII was able to buy a peace treaty. The Khmer empire, by then called Kambuja, continued fighting and trying to regain lost territory. Eventually this led to the Siamese-Vietnamese war, resulting in Kambuja paying tribute to Siam (by then called Thailand). Thai and eventually Vietnamese governments chose and installed rulers and vassals in Cambodia to keep policies in their favor until King Nodorom asked France for aid in 1863.

Thailand ceased its requirement for tribute in exchange for the Battamban and Siemp Reap provinces in 1867, thanks to French coercion for both countries, and Kambuja was incorporated into French Indochina from1867-1953. French rule was interrupted briefly by Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945. The country gained independence in 1953 and named itself Cambodia. When the North Vietnamese army was backed by the USSR in the Vietnamese Civil War, King Sihanouk took a neutral position to and allowed Vietnamese troops to cross the border for strategic hiding positions and to move weapons. Sihanouk was ousted by a coup soon after, as the Cambodian people felt humiliated and many were harmed in a war they did not advocate.

The new regime opposed Vietnam using the land, thus easily gaining US aid in the war. However, Vietnam urged the population to protest against their king, which lead to a civil war from 1970 to 1972. We now call those who backed communist ideals in Cambodia the Khmer Rouge, which quickly split away from Vietnamese nationalism and adopted its own. Disunity of loyalties followed the Vietnam war, and the Khmer Rouge formed the Communist Party of Kampuchea, or the CPK, which forced the king to abdicate and took control of the country. The CPK modeled its new government after the Chinese Maoist Great Leap forward, which was bent on purging the country of modern ideology, technology and even architecture, including libraries and western medicine. Agriculture was remodeled after 11th century practices; many were killed or sent on forced marches to starve, giving rise to the term 'killing field'. Estimates ranged between 2-3 million murdered outright upon the orders of the CPK, many of them intellectuals such as teachers or doctors. Estimates of those who merely starved or died under poor medical facilities range from 2-5 million, with no definite numbers.

In 1978, war broke out between Vietnam and Cambodia over Vietnamese border raids and refugees fleeing Kampuchea. The Vietnamese army, along with the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation, which included many former Khmer Rouge members, invaded the capital, Phnom Penh. Many Khmer Rouge defected and aided the new Vietnamese government establish the People's Republic of Kampuchea, and oust the Khmer Rouge as a 'puppet government of the Chinese' Peace talks began in 1989, the 1991 Paris Comprehensive Peace Settlement was signed and the UN supervised a ceasefire.

Today, Cambodia has scored only 20 out of 100 on the Corruption Perception Index, and is infamous for being one of the most corrupt countries in the world. As of 2013, 20 percent of the population lives in poverty. Like its neighbors, the climate is tropical, with monsoon and dry seasons.

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