Defined largely by its tragic recent history Cambodia has only recently emerged from the violence and poverty which beset it throughout the latter half of the 20th century. It is still one of the poorest countries on the planet and relies heavily on aid.
The legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime, which took power in 1975 and whose bloody reign led to the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians, is still pervasive. However Cambodia’s tourism industry is becoming increasingly important, as tourists flock to see the temples of Angkor Wat, huge 12th century complexes which are dotted around Cambodia’s north-western jungles and which reveal the rich culture and traditions which this country inherits.
Western writers largely associate Cambodia with war, colonisation and the Khmer Rouge regime. Australian historian Milton Osborne has published books on the Cambodian refugee issue, and the history of Cambodia. The film Enemies of the People from 2009 documented some of the tragic events that occurred during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror.