Stamps issued: 1949-PRESENT
A constitutional monarchy in southeast Asia. It lies in Indochina and borders Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. During the 9th-13th centuries, Cambodia was the center of the Khmer empire, which ruled Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and southern Vietnam. By the 19th century, Khmer power had long been declining, and in 1863 a French protectorate was established over Cambodia. A constitutional monarchy was established in 1941. In 1951, Cambodia became a separate member of the French Union, and in 1955 it became fully independent. During the Vietnamese War, Cambodia attempted to maintain its independence and neutrality. In 1965, relations were broken with the United States, after ARVN forces attacked Viet-Cong bases in Cambodia. By 1969, the Viet-Cong-supported Khmer Rouge rebels posed such a threat that relations were restored. In 1970, the monarchy was deposed, and a pro-western republic was established. In 1971, the name Khmer Republic was adopted. There followed several years of intense fighting between the North Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and the U.S.-backed forces of the republic. More than 100,000 died during 1971-75. The communists quickly defeated government forces after the U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam. There followed one of the more bizarre and horrifying episodes in recent history. The Khmer Rouge broke with their Vietnamese allies and began a systematic reign of terror that claimed one million lives during 1975-78. During this period (1977-78), Cambodia was renamed Democratic Kampuchea. In 1978, border skirmishes with Vietnam erupted into war, and in January 1979, a Vietnamese-backed regime was established. During 1983-89 Vietnam effectively occupied Cambodia, reducing the Khmer Rouge to guerrilla resistance in remote rural areas. In 1993 U.N.-sponsored elections led to the restoration of the monarchy. Khmer Rouge resistance to the new government continued through most of the 1990s.