Cambodia Table of Contents

The previous edition of Cambodia: A Country Study was compiled in 1972 when the ill-fated Khmer Republic was fighting for its life against the Khmer Rouge. In the one and one-half decades since that time, profound upheavals have wrought substantial political changes in the country. These changes, and the regimes that sought to impose them, are only now beginning to be studied with objectivity. In addition, the quickening pace of negotiations concerning the future of the country suggests that a watershed period in its modern history may be approaching. It is, accordingly, time for a new country study, not only to catch up with the momentous developments of the past fifteen years, but also to establish some point of departure, some bench mark by which to interpret future events.

This is a completely new book, and, unlike the previous edition, it follows the standard, revised format of the entire country study series. It presents its narrative under five major concomitants of the Cambodian experience: historical setting, society and environment, economy, government and politics, and national security. Sources of information for this study included both monographs and serials, especially material published since 1975.

It should be noted that, as a result of the Khmer Rouge policy of eradicating the traces of its predecessor and of establishing a ruthlessly self-sufficient, anti-modernistic regime, after mid 1975, statistical and quantitative data for Democratic Kampuchea are contradictory and virtually nonexistent. As for its successor, the People's Republic of Kampuchea, such data are only now becoming available, and they remain fragmentary and contradictory. Cambodia continues to be a desperately poor country, its infrastructure ravaged by war, and its thin stratum of educated citizens either in exile or nearly wiped out during the Khmer Rouge years; it is thus scarcely able to compile data that one has come to expect of other nations. Nevertheless, the country is making an effort to bind its wounds and to reestablish sovereignty over its territory, without enduring either a suffocating Vietnamese presence or a chilling reimposition of Khmer Rouge authority. More and better data should become available as Cambodia slowly rehabilitates itself and resumes its place in the Asian family of nations.

A word of explanation is needed concerning the use of "Cambodia" instead of "Kampuchea" to designate the country. According to historian David P. Chandler, both terms are derived from "Kambuja," a Sanskrit word thought to have been applied originally to a north Indian tribe. The selection of "Cambodia," therefore, was without ideological connotation. It is more recognizable to the English-speaking reader, and it adheres to the standard practice of the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN), which also has been followed in the spelling of all place names. In April 1989, after the cut-off date of research for this book, Prime Minister Hun Sen of the People's Republic of Kampuchea announced that the name of the country had been changed to the State of Cambodia. In recent years some provinces have been combined, renamed, and then divided again several times. The most recent case is that of Bantay Meanchey, the formation of which-- from parts of Batdambang, Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey, and Pouthisat-- was announced in late 1987 to take effect in 1988. For the geographic terms occurring most frequently, such as names of provinces, the BGN designations together with the more common, journalistic equivalents are as follows:

  BGN Name            Common Name
  Batdambang          Battambang
  Kampong Cham        Kompong Cham
  Kampong Chhnang     Kompong Chnang
  Kampong Saom        Kompong Som
  Kampong Spoe        Kompong Speu
  Kampong Thum        Kompong Thom
  Kaoh Kong           Koh Kong
  Kracheh             Kratie
  Mondol Kiri         Mondolkiri
  Otdar Meanchey      Oddar Meanchey
  Pouthisat           Pursat
  Rotanokiri          Ratanakiri
  Stoeng Treng        Stung Treng
  Takev               Takeo
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Source: U.S. Library of Congress