Cambodia's history has been influenced by its location between China and India. From 100 A.D. to 600 A.D. Cambodia was part of the area known as Funan, an important trade route between India and China.

In the 7th century, a part of Funan known as Chenla formed a separate state. In the 8th century Chenla broke up into smaller states. The area that is now Cambodia was ruled by Java. In the 9th century a Khmer prince returned from exile in Java and established the Angkor dynasty.

The Angkor kings contributed to Cambodia's great architectural heritage from the 9th to the 14th century. These monarchs established their authority at different times by fighting wars inside and outside the country. Yasovarman I, who ruled Cambodia in the late 9th century, moved the capital from the border of Thailand to Angkor.

Suryavarman II reigned from 1113-1150. He spent 30 years constructing the temple-mountain known as Angkor Wat. His death was followed by three decades of fighting and internal conflict over who should rule.

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Suryavarman I, who held power from 1002 to 1050, built a huge reservoir, 8 km by 1.6 km, that still supplies water to nearby communities.

Jayavarman VII, who ruled from 1181-1220, expanded the Khmer Empire. He oversaw the building of Angkor Thom, a new, larger capital city close to Angkor. In the centre of this city he built The Bayon, his temple-mountain.

From the 15th to 18th century the Khmer Empire lost territory to surrounding powers. Thailand overtook Angkor in 1431. The capital moved to Phnom Penh. In 1862 France acquired control of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, forming French Indochina. In 1941 France appointed Norodom Sihanouk king of Cambodia. In 1953, at the request of Norodom Sihanouk, France granted independence to Cambodia.

In 1970, Cambodia became involved in the Vietnam War. The Cambodian military were supported by the United States. Resistance to the regime emerged in a revolutionary group called the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot. The Khmer Rouge seized Phnom Penh in 1975 and began a reign of terror. They forced people into rural communes and executed anyone who resisted. Nearly two million people were killed or starved to death during this period. In 1978, Vietnam invaded and Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until 1989. A peace accord was signed in 1991.

In July 1998 Cambodia held an election. More than 80% of the people voted. Hun Sen and his Cambodia People's Party were elected to head the government.