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Cambodia is a small country in Southeast Asia bordering Vietnam to the east and southeast, Thailand to the west and north, and Laos to the north.

The name Cambodia is derived from that of the ancient Khmer kingdom of Kambuja (Kambujadesa). Kambuja or Kamboja is the ancient Sanskrit name of an early tribe in northern India, the Kambojas, named after the founder of that tribe, Kambu Svayambhuva, apparently a variant of Cambyses.



The current government of Cambodia emerged from the 1978 Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia to end Khmer Rouge mass murder and attacks across the border into southern Vietnam and the subsequent UN sposored peace agrrement between the new Phnom Penh government supported by Hanoi and the loose alliance of Khmer Rouge and monarchists supported by the U.S., China and Thailand.

Today, official Washington and journalists who take their cue from it politely describe Cambodia with the euphemism "fledgling democracy." The arrests of two important human rights activists, Kem Sokha and Yeng Virak, for criminal defamation charges related to a banner criticizing Prime Minister Hun Sen, suggest that the chick may never leave the nest. In response to the arrest of Kem Sokha's arrest, U.S. Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said that, "Cambodia right now is at a crossroads. It must decide whether it's going to be a real democracy or whether it's going to move inexorably toward a one-party state."

Political Parties

Contemporary Political Elites

Historical Political Elites




  • Ker Munthit. "Cambodia's Fledgling Democracy Under Attack." Associated Press. Janurary 4, 2006.
  • Peter Maguire. 2005. Facing Death in Cambodia. Columbia University Press. OSBN 0231120524.

External Links

  • Country Guides: Cambodia
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