Boasting the largest religious monument on Earth, a gigantic Hindu-Buddhist temple complex called Angkor Wat, Cambodia is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Supporting a population of over 15 million and ruled by a constitutional monarchy, the official religion of Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by approximately 95 percent of the population. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, which is considered the political, economic, and cultural center of the country.
“For 2,000 years, Cambodia’s civilization absorbed influences from India and China and, in turn, transferred them to other Southeast Asian civilizations. From the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of Funan and Chenla (1st–8th century) through the classical age of the Angkor period (9th–15th century), it held sway over territories that are now part of Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. The Khmer (Cambodian) empire reached its apex in the 12th century, a time marked by the construction of Angkor Wat and Bayon and the imperial capital of Angkor Thom.
“Following 400 years of decline, Cambodia became a French colony and, during the 20th century, experienced the turmoil of war, occupation by the Japanese, postwar independence, and political instability. Between 1975-’79, the country was devastated by the reign of the Khmer Rouge, a rural communist guerrilla movement. During the Khmer Rouge’s period of power, at least 1.5 million Cambodians were killed or died, a monumental tragedy from which the country still suffers.
“Cambodia began the process of recovery under the Vietnam-backed regime of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (1979–’89), and in the 1990s, it regained political autonomy, re-established a constitutional government, and subsequently instituted free elections. The Cambodian economy has steadily improved, and the country seems to be living by the words of the Cambodian proverb, ‘Fear not the future, weep not for the past.’”–Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Tropical Storm Tour: Cambodia Video takes a sweeping glance at the majestic temples of the Angkor complex, as well as those in the nearby town of Siem Reap, and basks in a performance of traditional Cambodian dance and music at the Apsara Theater. For tons of photos and a detailed travel journal, visit the Tropical Storm Tour page.