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Cambodia: 1959

1956: Cambodia

1957: Cambodia
1958: Cambodia
1959: Cambodia
1960: Cambodia
1961: Cambodia
1962: Cambodia
1963: Cambodia
1964: Cambodia
1965: Cambodia
1966: Cambodia
1967: Cambodia
1968: Cambodia
1969: Cambodia
1970: Cambodia
1971: Cambodia
1972: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1973: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1974: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1975: Cambodia
1976: Cambodia
1977: Cambodia
1978: Cambodia
1979: Cambodia
1980: Cambodia
1981: Cambodia
1982: Cambodia
1983: Cambodia
1984: Cambodia
1985: Cambodia
1986: Cambodia
1987: Cambodia
1988: Cambodia
1989: Cambodia
1990: Cambodia
1991: Cambodia
1992: Cambodia
1993: Cambodia
1994: Cambodia
1995: Cambodia
1996: Cambodia
1997: Cambodia
1998: Archaeology: Radar Reveals Hidden Ruins in Cambodia
1998: Cambodia: Hun Sen Declares Election Victory
1998: Pol Pot Dies at 73
1998: Coalition Government

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.


1959: Cambodia

Politics and Government.

Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the premier, remained the leading political figure in the government of Cambodia. In January and February he reportedly suppressed two conspiracies against his government. The plot in January was reputedly led by Sam Sary, a former premier who later served as ambassador to Great Britain until his recall in June 1958, and by Son Ngoc Thanh, who headed a pro-Japanese government during part of World War II and later led the Khmer Issarak (Free Cambodia) movement. Until the 1954 armistice in the Indo-China states, the Khmer Issarak was part of the Viet Minh-Khmer-Pathet Lao alliance against the French. Sam Sary was said to have joined Son Ngoc Thanh in Thailand after the Cambodian Government was warned of the plot by the French and Chinese embassies in Phnom Penh. The February conspiracy was supposedly led by General Chuon Mulpich, governor of the border province of Siem-Reap and one-time member of the Khmer Issarak movement. Accused of treason, he escaped arrest momentarily, but was later captured in the jungle while trying to reach Thailand. His death was announced on March 5 and was attributed to wounds inflicted at the time of capture. Premier Norodom Sihanouk in talks with newsmen implicated the South Vietnamese consul general at Phnom Penh in the plot, as well as several Thai and United States officials. But the three governments strongly denied any connection with the conspiracy.

It was announced on September 1 that King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Kousamak Nearikeak narrowly escaped assassination when a bomb wrapped as a gift to the king exploded in the royal palace. The explosion killed Prince Norodom Vakrivan, assistant director of the royal household, and a palace servant. The government blamed the assassination attempt on an "émigré group" (apparently led by Son Ngoc Thanh and Sam Sary) who were aided by an unnamed "foreign organization specializing in murder and subversion."

On October 6 the government indicated that a national "referendum" would be held to permit a choice between the present government and the Free Cambodia movement led by the exiled opposition leaders Sam Sary and Son Ngoc Thanh. Should his government lose, Prince Norodom Sihanouk promised either to submit to trial or to go into exile. Should the government win, however, he said that the opposition leaders would be declared outlaws. No date was set for a vote.

Foreign Affairs.

Two diplomatic achievements contributed to a partial abatement of Cambodia's long and chronic fear of its neighbors Thailand and South Vietnam. At the request of the Thai and Cambodian governments, UN Secretary General Hammarskjold appointed Baron Beck-Friis as mediator of a dispute between the two countries. As a result of the mediation efforts that began on January 20, the two governments agreed to resume diplomatic relations, which were broken off in November 1958. The dispute arose on August 8 when, on the eve of Prince Norodom Sihanouk's visit to Communist China, Thailand declared a state of emergency on the Cambodian frontier. The dispute also involved conflicting claims over the ownership of the ruined twelfth-century temple of Préah Vihéar (known in Thailand as Khao Phra Viharn), which was occupied by the Thai border police.

During a visit to Saigon on August 4 and 5, Prince Norodom Sihanouk reportedly agreed to restore full diplomatic relations with South Vietnam. He reputedly refused to grant South Vietnam authorities the right of pursuit into Cambodia of terrorist bands but consented to co-operate in the suppression of those bands which operated from the Cambodian side of the border.

Economic Developments.

A major shift has occurred in the geographic pattern of Cambodia's trade. While the French Community retains the first position among Cambodia's customers, the United States has become recently the principal market for Cambodian rubber. In 1959 the United States indicated that it would continue economic aid to Cambodia, which from 1955 through 1958 totalled $125,000,000. In addition to providing money for irrigation, school, health, and road projects, the United States contributed heavily to the support of Cambodia's military forces. Aid from the Soviet bloc countries from 1955 through 1958 was equivalent to about $34,000,000.

During 1959, Canada agreed to contribute $1,300,000 toward the costs of a survey and mapping project which would make possible the initiation of the Mekong Development Plan. The plan involves power development on the Mekong River network which affects Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

Area and Population.

Area, 66,800 sq. mi. Pop., (est. 1956), about 5,000,000. Phnom Penh, cap., 500,000.


Constitutional monarchy. Reigning monarch, Norodom Suramarit. Premier, Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Son Sann.


1956 final total expenditures, 1,983,000,000 riels. 1957 estimate of budget expenditures, 2,250,000,000 riels. Chief items of expenditure: defense, education, public works, and administration. Chief sources of revenue: customs duties, government monopolies, sales, and license taxes. Currency unit, riel = U.S. $0.03.


Production (1956): rice, 1,000,000 tons; rubber, 32,000 tons.


Exports (1956), 1,282,321,000 riels; imports, 1,979,767,000 riels. Major trading countries: the French Union, the United States, and Malaya.


Public primary schools (1957), 1,032 with about 350,000 students. Religious primary schools, 1,400 with about 75,000 students. Private primary schools, 204 with 17,117 students. There are few schools above the primary level. It has been estimated that school attendance is 77 per cent for boys and 12 per cent for girls.

Armed Forces.

Expenditure (1956), 402,000,000 riels. Army, 35,000 men.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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