History of Cambodia
People have been living within the area covered by the present-day country of Cambodia at least since the 5th millennium BC.The ancient Kingdom of Funan occupied a wider area, and it was during that period that the culture became heavily influenced by Hinduism. The state of Chenla then arose. The Khmer Empire had its golden age in the 9th to the 13th centuries, when huge temple complexes were built, most notably Angkor Wat.
Spanish and Portuguese missionaries visited from the 16th century, and Cambodia became a protectorate of France in the 19th century, being ruled as part of French Indochina. Cambodia became an independent kingdom in 1953 under Norodom Sihanouk. The Vietnam War extended into Cambodia, giving rise to the Khmer Rouge, which took Phnom Penh in 1975 and carried out a campaign of mass killing. Following an invasion by Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge were deposed and the People is Republic of Kampuchea was established. After years of isolation, the war-ravaged nation was reunited under the monarchy in 1993 and has seen rapid economic progress while rebuilding from decades of civil war.
Carbon 14 dating of a cave at Laang Spean in northwest Cambodia revealed stone tools from 6000-7000 BC, and pottery from 4200 BC. Further archaeological evidence indicates that other parts of the region now called Cambodia were inhabited from around 2000-1000 BC by a Neolithic culture. Skulls and human bones found at Samrong Sen date from 1500 BC. These people may have migrated from South Eastern China to the Indochinese Peninsula. Scholars trace the first cultivation of rice and the first bronze making in Southeast Asia to these people. By the 1st century AD, the inhabitants had developed relatively stable, organized societies and spoke languages very much related to the Cambodian or Khmer of the present day. The culture and technical skills of these people in the 1st century AD far surpassed the primitive stage. The most advanced groups lived along the coast and in the lower Mekong River valley and delta regions in houses constructed on stilts where they cultivated rice, fished and kept domesticated animals. Recent research has unlocked the discovery of artificial circular earthworks dating to Cambodia is Neolithic era.
The Khmer people were among the first inhabitants of South East Asia. They were also among the first in South East Asia to adopt religious ideas and political institutions from India and to establish centralized kingdoms comprising large territories. The earliest known kingdom in the area, Funan, flourished from around the 1st to the 6th century. This was succeeded by Chenla, which controlled large parts of modern Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand