History And Culture Of Cambodia
Cambodia lies in the continent of Southeast Asia. The neighboring countries to Cambodia are Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh which is the biggest city along with being a cultural, commercial and a political centre of the country. The official religion of Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism which is also practiced by its border countries. The languages spoken in the country are Khmer, French and English. Khmer is spoken by about 95% of the population and is the official language of the country.
The main occupation is agriculture and it is the major source contributing to Cambodia's economy. The monetary unit of Cambodia is Riel. Cambodia was under the rule of the Khmer Empire about 600 years ago until the French invaded. They combined Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam into a single region and named it as French Indochina. It is believed that if Cambodia would not have been colonized by the French, it would have been dissolved by its neighboring countries. King Norodom is believed to the man behind saving Cambodia from disappearing.
Cambodia sought independence from the French on 9th November, 1949. King Norodom ruled Cambodia until 18th March, 1970. He was then overthrown by Prime Minister General Lon Nol along with the help of the United States. General Lon Nol then established the Khmer Republic and people were destroyed under this rule. Khmer Rouge came to power on 17th April, 1970 following which a reign of terror spread over the country for about four years and this resulted in the exploitation of the people of Cambodia for the next ten years. Finally Cambodia came to peace when the United Nations organized the Paris Peace Accords which was signed on 23rd October, 1991. King Norodom Shianouk was restored as the King of Cambodia in the year of 1993. Reconstruction efforts have been observed in the country in the recent years.
Cambodia is considered as the land with rich culture, tradition and ethnic civilization. The culture of this country is heavily influenced by Hinduism and the people have developed a way of living from the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism. The culture came into existence from the monarchy of Angkor. Angkor Wat is the best preserved remain of the Khmer architecture.
The rural people of Cambodia wear a checkered scarf or Krama displaying a unique aspect of the Cambodian clothing. The Cambodians pass on the culture from generations to generations. Specific guidelines are attached to the culture of Cambodia. The younger people are supposed to show respect to the elders and are barred to use the word 'you' while talking to them. Sam peah gesture is the ideal way to show respect to other people and the elders. The gesture is the joining of hands and bending little low while greeting people. However, touching the feet of the elders with the head is considered as disrespect as opposed to the Hindu culture.
Cambodian dances are divided into classical, folk and vernacular dance forms. The traditional Apsara dance is iconic to the Cambodian culture. Cambodian music has undergone a heavy westernization in the recent times. Rice and fish form an important part of the Cambodian cuisine. There is also a traditional art of writing present in the country. Ram Ker is the Cambodian version of the Hindu Ramayana and Tum Teav is thought to be their version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Along with literature, theatre, film industry and sports are also developing in the Cambodia.