Archives consist of articles that originally appeared in Collier's Year Book (for events of 1997 and earlier) or as monthly updates in Encarta Yearbook (for events of 1998 and later). Because they were published shortly after events occurred, they reflect the information available at that time. Cross references refer to Archive articles of the same year.
The most significant development in Cambodian domestic policy during 1957 and 1958 was a sharp turn away from a policy of apparent Communist conciliation to one of avowed anti-Communism. The attack started on Oct. 5, 1957, when the Cambodian government charged that Communists in French universities were subverting youths sent abroad for advanced study, at the same time alleging lack of dollars to be the only reason for not sending students to the United States. On Jan. 3, 1958, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the real ruler of the country, made an important speech in which he denounced Communist activities in Cambodia, announced the recall of Cambodia's ambassador from Moscow, and criticized the propaganda activities of the Chinese and Russian embassies in Phnom Penh. Subsequently the National Assembly denied Eik Yioun, its president, the right to make any negotiations with Czechoslovakia, and appointed a new cabinet. On March 22 Sihanouk, in a speech severely critical of the U.S. press, attacked Communism and suggested that it was completely incompatible with the Cambodian life. However, Sihanouk's declarations were not taken too seriously by some observers, who alleged that his personality was too mercurial to be dependable. During the period from late 1957 through 1958 there were several shifts in the government of Cambodia, but Sihanouk remained in control. Elections for the National Assembly were held in March. Sihanouk's party, the Popular Socialist Community Party, won all seats. The strength of the Communists appeared to be low. The single Communist candidate received only 396 votes.
Viet Nam and Thailand.
During the course of 1958 trouble developed between Cambodia and two of her neighbors. On June 25 Cambodia charged that South Viet Nam had invaded Cambodia territory and listed 27 allegations of border violations in support of the charge. Both states accused each other of violations of the border. Although the apparent issue lay in Viet Nam's claim that Cambodia was affording shelter to remnants of the Cao Dai and Binh Xuyen sects, most observers agreed that the real issue involved the settlement of claims and assets inherited from the French regime. Tension between the two states dropped after Ngo Dinh Nnu (brother of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Viet Nam) visited Cambodia and discussed the issues with Sihanouk. On August 4 Thailand declared a state of emergency in its eight provinces along the Cambodian border and charged that Communists were using Cambodian territory as a base for infiltrating Thailand. This conflict was negotiated in the latter part of August and apparently ended in reconciliation. However, on November 24 Cambodia asked for "temporary suspension" of diplomatic relations with Thailand, and in response Thailand sealed off her border with Cambodia the following day.
On July 18, 1958, Cambodia recognized Red China; during August Prince Sihanouk visited Peking to conclude agreements for further aid to Cambodia from China.
The exact amount of foreign aid received by Cambodia is not known, but it is believed to exceed the annual budget of about $50,000,000. The principal contributors are the United States and China; France, Canada, and Australia have also contributed large sums, primarily through the Colombo Plan organization.
Area and Population.
Area, 67,670 sq. mi. Pop. (est. Jan. 1956), 4,360,000. There has never been a systematic census and some journalists believe that the population figure may be 6,000,000. Phnom Penh (cap.), 110,639 (1946 est.). National language, Khmer. Predominant religion is Buddhism; there are also substantial numbers of Roman Catholics.
Constitutional monarchy. Reigning monarch, King Norodom Suramarit. Prime Minister, Phlek Phocun. All 91 seats in the National Assembly are held by the Popular Socialist Community Party headed by Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
Monetary unit: riel = U.S. $0.03. Budgetary estimate for 1957, R 2,000,000,000. Military costs largely borne by the United States and France.
Exports: rice, rubber, fish products. Imports: textiles, metals, machinery, petroleum products.
Agriculture and Industry.
Primarily agricultural, with three fourths of the cultivated area devoted to rice.
1,009 public schools, with 183,713 students (1953-1954); 1,600 religious and private schools, with almost 100,000 students.
Western observers estimate the strength of the Cambodian army as 70,000 fairly well-trained and equipped soldiers. Nothing is known of the air force and navy.
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