Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
1 Richard W. Wright and Malcolm Innes-Brown Introduction to Cambodia: origins of a post-traumatic society Cambodia is one of the countries (the other two being Laos and Vietnam) formerly referred to as Indochine Française – French Indochina. Covering 181 035 square kilometres, it lies on the Gulf of Thailand bordering Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its population, one of the fastest growing in Southeast (SE) Asia, is about 14.4 million. Although there has been migration from rural areas to urban centers over the past 10 years (principally to the capital Phnom Penh and the tourist city of Siem Reap), approximately 85 percent of Cambodians live in rural villages cultivating rice. Cambodia is among the least developed countries (LDC) in the world. Its most recent Human Development Index ranking is 130 out of 177 countries rated (World Bank, 2006a). Gross national income (GNI) per capita is US$ 480.00. The adult literacy rate is 81 percent for males and 59 percent for females. Life expectancy is 55 for males and 60 for females (World Bank, 2007). The first advanced civilizations in present-day Cambodia appeared in the first millennium ad. During the third, fourth, and fifth centuries, the Indianized states of Funan and Chenla coalesced in what is now Cambodia and southwestern Vietnam. These states had close relations with China and India. Their collapse was followed by the rise of the Khmer Empire, a civilization which flourished from the ninth century to the thirteenth century. The Khmer Empire declined yet remained powerful in the...
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