|Cambodia Table of Contents
The predominance of agriculture and the lack--or neglect--of real industrial development have characterized Cambodia's modern economy since independence in 1953. Wet rice cultivation traditionally has played a key role in peasant subsistence, in national self-sufficiency in food production, in trade relations with other states, and in governmental revenues for national development. Conversely, the government has made few attempts to industrialize the nation.
After Cambodia became independent in 1953, the country's economic policies were shaped by the succession of governments that followed. Prince Sihanouk opted for unconditional aid from the East and from the West, and the nation made modest strides. The Lon Nol government would have adhered to a laissez-faire doctrine, but it was overwhelmed by the war around it. The Khmer Rouge adopted a fanatical and doctrinaire self-reliance, and the Cambodian people and nation were ravaged by it. The post-1979 government of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK), with its Vietnamese mentors, acquiesced to a pragmatic combination of socialism and small-scale capitalism, and the country achieved some limited rehabilitative goals. In the late 1980s, government policies fundamentally relied upon the nation's own sparse resources--chiefly agriculture, a nascent industrial base, and modest foreign aid from Comecon countries and nongovernmental international organizations.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress