OFFICIAL NAME: Kampuchea
CAPITAL CITY: Phnom Penh
POPULATION: 13,900,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)
AREA: 177,000 km²
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): khmer
RELIGION: Buddhists 95%, others 5%
CURRENCY CODE: KHR
ENGLISH NAME: Cambodia
INDEPENDENCE: 9/11/1953 (by France)
POPULATION COMPOSITION: Khmer 89%, Vietnamese 5%, Chinese 3%, others 3%
GDP PER residents: $ 356 (2007)
LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 53 years, women 60 years (2007)
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, HDI: 0.583
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, POSITION: 129
INTERNET DOMAIN NAME: .kh
Cambodia, Kingdom of South Asia; 1970-75 Khmer Republic, 1975-91 Kampuchéa. Formerly
part of French Indochina, Cambodia Protectorate . Cambodia is one of
the poorest countries in the world. Under the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-79), an
extreme social policy was pursued, which required great sacrifices. It is
estimated that 1-2 mill. people lost their lives. Since then, there has been a
slow normalization in the country despite a protracted civil war.
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Cambodia - religion
The majority of Cambodia's population are Theravada Buddhists. Under
the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970's, all forms of religious activity were
banned. In 1989, Theravada Buddhism was reintroduced as a state religion by a
The religious development in Cambodia is characterized by strong impulses
partly from India and partly from Thailand. From India
came Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism. Before the Angkor period, no particular
Hindu deity seemed to be preferred. Archaeological finds show
that Vishnu and Shiva, in addition to each other, have also been worshiped as
one deity, Harihara. Later, Shiva is highlighted, but Vishnu is also worshiped
as the supreme deity. Jayavarman II, who established his capital in the Angkor
area, introduced a new cult, the Devaraja cultor the cult of the god
king, with Shiva as the central deity. In this cult, god and king are
equal. Jayavarman perceived himself as an incarnation (avatara) of
Shiva. An example of a Vishnuite god king is Suryavarman II, who in the early
1100's. had the mighty temple complex Angkor Vat erected. Behind the dominant
Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism can be seen, which gradually came to light, and
Jayavarman VII did in the late 1100's. Buddhism to court religion. The cult of
the god king now continued with Lokeshvara (the same as Avalokiteshvara) in the
It is unknown when Theravada Buddhism came to Cambodia. The first known
inscription in the religious language of the Theravada school dates from 1230,
and in the following centuries, this form of Buddhism prevailed in all sections
of the population. The reason for its proliferation is probably missionary Thai
monks and not least Thailand's growing political influence in
Cambodia. Theravada maintained its status as the country's national religion
until the Khmer Rouge regime in 1975-78, when most monasteries were destroyed
and the majority of the monks' 64,000 members perished. After the Vietnamese
invasion in 1979, the country regained religious freedom. In 1992, there were
21,800 Buddhist monks, and 2,800 monasteries were rebuilt.
Cambodia - Constitution
In 1993, the Constituent Assembly adopted a new constitution making Cambodia
a constitutional electoral monarchy and introducing a multi - party system. At
the same time, a two-chamber parliament was introduced. The National Assembly
consists of 123 members, elected by direct election for five years. The Senate
has 61 members, 57 of whom are appointed by the National Assembly for a
five-year term. They must represent key aspects of society and organizations.
The executive power lies with a prime minister who comes from the majority
party. This is appointed by the king on the proposal of the chairman of the
National Assembly. The king may, moreover, make appointments and declare a state
of emergency, but only if the prime minister and the government agree.
Cambodia - art and architecture
The majority of the Khmer art handed down is of a religious nature. Most
elements of Khmer culture originate in India. Indian cosmology, for example,
underlies the Khmer temple constructions, which are miniature representations of
the classical Indian worldview. The pyramid-shaped shrine in the center
symbolizes the sacred mountain, Meru, which is the center of the Earth, and the
pyramid temple is often flanked by four towers representing the corners of the
world. Jayavarman 2nd introduced in the 800-t. en devaraja-cult in
which deity and king are one. This is expressed in sculptural works where the
king is portrayed with the characteristics of the deity. Despite the strong
cultural influences from India, the Khmers managed to free themselves from the
Indian role models and create their own style of art.
From the oldest period (around 500-800-t.) Pyramid-shaped tower temples built
on mountain tops are known. From the same period, giant statues preserved by
Hindu deities are carved in sandstone. Usually, Shiva and Vishnu were depicted,
the two main deities of Hinduism that sometimes merged into one deity,
Harihara. The right half of the statue is provided with Shiva's iconographic
features, the left with Vishnus. A number of these sculptures are Indian in
style, while others differ greatly from the Indian originals. The first category
is probably performed by wandering Indian artisans, the second group shows that
Khmer art at an early stage has found its own style.
Jayavarman II founded his capital in the Angkor area and let erect a
Shiva shrine on Kulenbjerget. The art under Jayavarman II, called the Kulen
style, forms the transition to the Angkor period (800-t.-1431). Indravarman 1.
(877-889) was the first to build a temple mountain, Bakong, near Angkor. In the
central shrine on the mountain top there is a linga, a phallus
representing the god Shiva. The founder of Angkor, Yashovarman (889-900),
ushered in a new phase in Khmer art with the construction of the Temple Mount
Bakheng, replacing sandstone with bricks. Built in red sandstone and lavishly
decorated, Banteay Srei from 967 is considered one of the most beautiful temples
in Khmer art. The most famous and impressive edifice of the period is the Vishnu
Temple Angkor Vat, built under Suryavarman 2. (1113-50). The walls are adorned
with numerous reliefs. A more than 500 m long frieze reproduces mythological
scenes and illustrates episodes from the Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. The
scenery with the celestial nymphs Apasaras is breathtaking. Angkor was
in 1177 partially destroyed by the Cham people. Jayavarman 7. (1181-1219), who
was a Buddhist, founded a new capital, Angkor Thom, and in the middle of it he
had the magnificent temple Bayon built.
After Jayavarman VII's death, Angkor slowly fell into disrepair. The Thai
people invaded from the north, and in 1431 the Khmers moved their capital
to Phnom Penh. With the Thai people came Theravada Buddhism, which soon became
the Khmer religion, and these upheavals put an end to Khmer art. Art in Cambodia
got its impulses from Thailand in the future through Theravada Buddhism.
Cambodia - literature
Classical Cambodian literature and the popular literary traditions of
Cambodia are influenced by Indian traditions and have much in common with
similar traditions in Thailand and Laos.
The classical period lasted from approximately 1500-1900, and the heyday from
1600-1700-t. The classic fiction is written in verse. The most famous epic works
are Lpoek Angar Vatt (approximately 1620), a description of Angkor Vat and its
prehistory, as well as Ramakerti, the Khmer version of the Indian
The classic verse novels are often retellings of jatakas,
Buddhist tales. Episodes from the classic novels are used as a motif in temple
paintings and as a repertoire for various forms of theater.
The oral literature includes a large number of folk songs and stories. The
stories about the teaser Thmenh Chey and about Judge Hare are very popular.
The modern literature, written by and for a small urban elite, deals with
modern development and the problems that follow in its wake. The first novel was
published in 1938, and the literary production has since been modest.
Under the Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-79, there was no literary
activity. Thereafter, the literary development is not known. There are no Danish
translations of Cambodian literature.