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Very little is known about prehistoric Cambodia although archeological evidence has established that prior to 1000 BC Cambodians subsisted on a diet of fish and rice and lived in houses on stilts as they still do today From the 1st to the 6th centuries much of Cambodia belonged to the South-East Asian kingdom of Funan which played a vital role in developing the political institutions culture and art of later Khmer states However it was the Angkorian era beginning in the 8th century that really transformed the kingdom into an artistic and religious power Forces of the Thai kingdom of Ayudhya sacked Angkor in 1431 leaving the Khmers plagued by dynastic rivalries and continual warfare with the Thais for a century and a half The Spanish and Portuguese who had recently become active in the region also played a part in these wars until resentment of their power led to the massacre of the Spanish garrison at Phnom Penh in 1599 A series of weak kings ruled from 1600 until the After some gunboat diplomacy and the signing of a treaty of protectorate in 1863 the French went on to force King Norodom to sign another treaty this time turning his country into a virtual colony in 1884 A relatively peaceful period followed even the peasant uprising of 1916 was considered peaceful In 1941 on the assumption that he would prove suitably pliable the French installed 19 year-old Prince Sihanouk on the Cambodian throne This turned out to be a major miscalculation as the years after 1945 were strife-torn with the waning of French colonial power aided by the proximity of the Franco-Viet Minh War that raged in Vietnam and Laos Cambodian independence was eventually proclaimed in 1953 the
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