From the century I to VI of the Christian era, Cambodia, whose name means “sons of Kambu”, a mythical hermit, was part of a great state, remembered by the Chinese as Fu-nan, of which little is known and to which it succeeded, in course of the century VI, the Kingdom of Chen-la (the land of the Kambuja). From the end of the century. IX to the middle of the XV the period of Angkor took place, so called from the name of the capital. Starting from 1350 the wars with the neighbors, which had already begun earlier, took a continuous course, and especially with Siam. In 1430 the king of Ayutthaya conquered Angkor; the struggles with Siam in the north and Viet Nam in the south lasted, with various losses and reconquest of territories by Cambodia, until about 1860, complicated in the sec. XVI-XVII from Portuguese and Dutch interference. In 1864, at the urging of King Norodom, France established its protectorate over Cambodia and in 1887 incorporated it into the Union Indochinoise. Around 1930, nationalistic claims began; in 1941 Japan, taking advantage of France’s inability to intervene, forced Cambodia to return some provinces to Thailand. Independence was first proclaimed on March 12, 1945 by King Norodom Sihanouk, but France restored the colonial regime in August and effective independence was only possible in 1953. In 1955 Norodom Sihanouk abdicated in favor of his father and formed the Sangkum partywhich in the following elections had all the seats. From then until 1970 Sihanouk was always the political guide of Cambodia, also becoming, on the death of his father, the effective head of state, even without assuming the title of king. An advocate of neutrality and the maintenance of the territorial integrity of the country, he maintained good relations with the USA until 1962 (Geneva Conference on Laos) and then established close relations with the People’s Republic of China, convinced of its hegemony in SE Asia. In March 1970, following a US-backed coup, Norodom Sihanouk was expelled from Cambodia and on October 9 the country assumed a republican order. From exile in China, Sihanouk organized his own government, tied himself to the Khmer Rouge, once his opponents, with whom he succeeded, after a bitter civil war, to provoke, in 1975, the flight from the country of President Lon Nol (1 April) and to reduce to surrender the pro-Americans besieged in Phnom Penh.
On December 14, 1975, according to aceinland, the democratic state of Cambodia was proclaimed and Sihanouk held power until the new Constitution came into force (January 5, 1976) and the general elections in March, after which Khieu Samphan was elected head of state.moderate leader of the Khmer Rouge, while the office of prime minister was assumed by the ferocious Pol Pot. Having assumed the name of “Democratic Cambodia”, the country, governed by Pol Pot, between 1977 and 1978 was repeatedly involved in conflicts with Viet Nam, while news began to spread about the regime of terror established by the Khmer Rouge. In the border areas between Cambodia and Viet Nam, an anti-government movement was formed, the United National Front for the Salvation of Kampuchéa (FUNSK), which found, precisely because of the ruthlessness of the Pol Pot government, support among the population. In this situation, always on the verge of civil war, the international powers interested in controlling the area entered. In January 1979, Vietnamese troops, intervening in support of FUNSK, occupied the capital of Cambodia: China, with which the Pol Pot government had had good relations, accused the Soviet Union of being behind the scenes and of having planned the occupation of the country; the legitimate government withdrew. L’ 11 January 1979 the People’s Republic of Cambodia was proclaimed by FUNSK; the clashes continued, however, between FUNSK and Vietnamese on the one hand and Khmer on the other, while the Soviet Union and China supported the opposing factions in the various international diplomatic initiatives. Forced to leave Cambodia following the Vietnamese occupation, Prince Sihanouk meanwhile founded a new government in exile, allying himself with anti-Vietnamese forces, including the Khmer Rouge. In July 1979 Pol Pot was sentenced to death in absentia, thus rising to the office of President of the Republic the pro-Vietnamese Heng Samrin, who in 1981 also became general secretary of the Revolutionary People’s Party. Having assumed the name of the People’s Republic of Kampuchéa (1981), the country adopted, through the National Assembly set up at the same time, a new Constitution. Throughout the 1980s, despite repeated meetings between the parties, the Khmer Rouge, the followers of Prince Sihanouk and the Son Sann nationalists continued their guerrilla operations against the authorities of Phnom Penh. In April 1989 the Constitution was amended, the denomination of “State of Cambodia” was introduced and Buddhism was once again proclaimed the national religion. In the same period the Khmer Rouge, taking advantage of the progressive withdrawal of the Vietnamese troops (completed in September 1989), launched a strong offensive. In 1990 the UN drew up a peace plan that was welcomed by the parties, which established a National Supreme Council to whose presidency Prince Sihanouk was elected (July 1991). After repeated interruptions of the negotiations, it came to the leaders of the four rival factions. Thus began a transition phase under the direct protection of the UN, but the Khmer Rouge opposed (June 1992) the deployment of the forces of the UN Provisional Authority for Cambodia (APRONUC-UNTAC) and, regardless of the sanctions of the Security Council, they resumed fighting.
However, this did not prevent the electoral deadline set by the peace plan signed in Paris from being respected and, at the end of May 1993, the Cambodians were called to the polls. Despite the bloody boycott of the Khmer Rouge, 90% participated in the elections for the Constituent Assembly, won by Sihanouk’s party (FUNCIPEC) which won 58 seats against 51 of the Communists of the PPC and 10 of the nationalist Son Sann. The following month Sihanouk was proclaimed head of state and a coalition government was formed between FUNCIPEC and the PPC. The new Constitution, launched on 21 September 1993, sanctioned the return to the monarchy by establishing guaranteed criteria for legislative deliberations (majority of 2/3). The government was entrusted to Prince Norodom Ranarridh (FUNCINPEC), son of Sihanouk, who obtained the position of “prime minister” flanked by Hu Sen (PPC) as “second prime minister”. The subsequent withdrawal of the UN forces, completed in November 1993, made even more fragile the young Cambodian democracy on which the threat of the Khmer guerrilla continued to loom, harbinger of divisions between the king (opposite) and Parliament. determined to condemn the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. More generally, the state of instability generated many contradictions within the government structure, contradictions aggravated, in 1997, by the capture of Pol Pot, who later died a prisoner in 1998, by Khieu Samphan, the leader of the Khmer Rouge and former right-hand man of the dictator.
Paradoxically, it was precisely the capture of Pol Pot that caused the crisis between Norodom Ranariddh’s FUNCIPEC and Hu Sen’s PPC to explode openly, which on 5 July 1997 ousted their rival in a coup, replacing him with Ung Huot. At the same time, a civil war was developing in the north of the country between the government forces and the military loyal to Ranariddh, supported by Thailand. In February 1998 Hu Sen, pushed by international pressure, accepted a peace plan and the return from exile of Ranariddh, in exchange for the “ceasefire” by the troops of FUNCIPEC. The political elections for July 1998 were called, Hu Sen won the majority of the seats, but the results were contested by all the competing parties and triggered a wide protest in the country. Negotiations started, therefore, an agreement was reached in September of the same year for the formation of a coalition government between Hu Sen and Ranariddh. In 1999 Cambodia became a member of ASEAN. The political elections of 2003 attributed, with a large majority, the victory to the party of Hu Sen, the CPP (Cambodian People’s Party), however the conflicts between the two political formations continued until July 2004, when the People’s Party and FUNCIPEC reached a new agreement for a coalition government. In September, Parliament ratified the country’s entry into the WTO, decided in 2003 at the Cancùn conference. In October 2004, King Sihanouk, 81, decided to abdicate. His son Norodom Sihamoni succeeded him on the throne. In July 2008, new political elections were held, won by the CPP and Prime Minister Hu Sen was reconfirmed. In 2009, the trial began against Kaing Guek Eav known as Duch, former director of the main Khmer Rouge prison, sentenced to life in prison in 2012. Border disputes with Thailand have resulted in repeated armed clashes that escalated in 2011 and followed by a truce agreement. In the rankings drawn up by Transaparency International, Cambodia in recent years has ranked 156th in 2015 and 2016 out of 176 states. According to this list, in 2008 Cambodia was one of the most corrupt countries in Southeast Asia.