Cambodia (English: /kæmˈbdiə/; also Kampuchea English: /ˌkæmpʊˈə/; Khmer: កម្ពុជា Khmer: [kam.pu.ciə]; French: Cambodge), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia (Khmer: ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា, , Khmer: [prĕəh riə.ciə.naː.caʔ kam.pu.ciə]; French: Royaume du Cambodge), is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. The sovereign state of Cambodia has a population of over 16 million. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, practised by approximately 95 percent of the population. The country's minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic and cultural centre of Cambodia. The kingdom is an elective constitutional monarchy with a monarch, currently Norodom Sihamoni, chosen by the Royal Throne Council as head of state. The head of government is the Prime Minister, currently Hun Sen, the longest serving non-royal leader in Southeast Asia, ruling Cambodia since 1985. In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king, uniting the warring Khmer princes of Chenla under the name "Kambuja". This marked the beginning of the Khmer Empire, which flourished for over 600 years, allowing successive kings to control and exert influence over much of Southeast Asia and accumulate immense power and wealth. The Indianised kingdom facilitated the spread of first Hinduism and then Buddhism to much of Southeast Asia and undertook many religious infrastructural projects throughout the region, including the construction of more than 1,000 temples and monuments in Angkor alone. Angkor Wat is the most famous of these structures and is designated as a World Heritage Site. After the fall of Angkor to Ayutthaya in the 15th century, a reduced and weakened Cambodia was then ruled as a vassal state by its neighbours. In 1863, Cambodia became a protectorate of France, which doubled the size of the country by reclaiming the north and west from Thailand.
Cambodia gained independence in 1953. The Vietnam War extended into the country with the US bombing of Cambodia from 1969 until 1973. Following the Cambodian coup of 1970 which installed the right-wing pro-US Khmer Republic, the deposed king gave his support to his former enemies, the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge emerged as a major power, taking Phnom Penh in 1975 and later carrying out the Cambodian genocide from 1975 until 1979, when they were ousted by Vietnam and the Vietnamese-backed People's Republic of Kampuchea, supported by the Soviet Union in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War (1979–91). Following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, Cambodia was governed briefly by a United Nations mission (1992–93). The UN withdrew after holding elections in which around 90 percent of the registered voters cast ballots. The 1997 factional fighting resulted in the ousting of the government by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People's Party, who remain in power .
Cambodia is a member of the United Nations since 1955, ASEAN, the East Asia Summit, the WTO, the Non-Aligned Movement and La Francophonie. According to several foreign organisations, the country has widespread poverty, pervasive corruption, lack of political freedoms, low human development and a high rate of hunger. Cambodia has been described by Human Rights Watch's Southeast Asian Director, David Roberts, as a "vaguely communist free-market state with a relatively authoritarian coalition ruling over a superficial democracy". While per capita income remains low compared to most neighbouring countries, Cambodia has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, with growth averaging 7.6 percent over the last decade. Agriculture remains the dominant economic sector, with strong growth in textiles, construction, garments and tourism leading to increased foreign investment and international trade. The American World Justice Project's 2015 Rule of Law Index ranked Cambodia 76 out of 102 countries, similar to other countries in the region.
The "Kingdom of Cambodia" is the official English name of the country. The English "Cambodia" is an anglicisation of the French "Cambodge", which in turn is the French transliteration of the Khmer kampuciə. Kampuchea is the shortened alternative to the country's official name in Khmer prĕəh riəciənaacak kampuciə. The Khmer endonym Kampuchea derives from the Sanskrit name kambojadeśa, composed of deśa ("land of" or "country of") and kamboja, which alludes to the foundation myths of the first ancient Khmer kingdom. The term Cambodia was already in use in Europe as early as 1524, since Antonio Pigafetta (an Italian explorer who followed Ferdinand Magellan in his circumnavigation of the globe) cites it in his work Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo (1524-1525) as Camogia.
Colloquially, Cambodians refer to their country as either srok khmae (Khmer: [srok ˈkʰmae]), meaning "Khmer's Land", or the slightly more formal prɑteih kampuciə (Khmer: [prɑ.ˈteih kam.pu.ciə]), literally "Country of Kampuchea". The name "Cambodia" is used most often in the Western world while "Kampuchea" is more widely used in the East.
There exists sparse evidence for a Pleistocene human occupation of present-day Cambodia, which includes quartz and quartzite pebble tools found in terraces along the Mekong River, in Stung Treng and Kratié provinces, and in Kampot Province, although their dating is unreliable. Some slight archaeological evidence shows communities of hunter-gatherers inhabited the region during Holocene: the most ancient archaeological discovery site in Cambodia is considered to be the cave of L'aang Spean, in Battambang Province, which belongs to the Hoabinhian period. Excavations in its lower layers produced a series of radiocarbon dates around 6000 BC. Upper layers in the same site gave evidence of transition to Neolithic, containing the earliest dated earthenware ceramics in Cambodia
Archaeological records for the period between Holocene and Iron Age remain equally limited. A pivotal event in Cambodian prehistory was the slow penetration of the first rice farmers from the north, which began in the late 3rd millennium BC. The most curious prehistoric evidence in Cambodia are the various "circular earthworks" discovered in the red soils near Memot and in the adjacent region of Vietnam in the latter 1950s. Their function and age are still debated, but some of them possibly date from 2nd millennium BC.}}
Other prehistoric sites of somewhat uncertain date are Samrong Sen (not far from the ancient capital of Oudong), where the first investigations began in 1875, and Phum Snay, in the northern province of Banteay Meanchey. An excavation at Phum Snay revealed 21 graves with iron weapons and cranial trauma which could point to conflicts in the past, possible with larger cities in Angkor.
Prehistoric artefacts are often found during mining activities in Ratanakiri.
Iron was worked by about 500 BC, with supporting evidence coming from the Khorat Plateau, in modern-day Thailand. In Cambodia, some Iron Age settlements were found beneath Baksei Chamkrong and other Angkorian temples while circular earthworks were found beneath Lovea a few kilometres north-west of Angkor. Burials, much richer than other types of finds, testify to improvement of food availability and trade (even on long distances: in the 4th century BC trade relations with India were already opened) and the existence of a social structure and labour organisation. Also, among the artefacts from the Iron Age, glass beads are important evidence. Different kinds of glass beads recovered from several sites across Cambodia, such as the Phum Snay site in northwest and the Prohear site in southeast, show that there were two main trading networks at the time. The two networks were separated by time and space, which indicate that there…