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Having suffered immeasurably under the rule of Pol Pot during the 1970s, Cambodia has emerged as one of Southeast Asia’s most fascinating destinations. Its capital, Phnom Penh, has a modern city buzz yet its stunning golden palaces and temples retain a connection with the region’s Buddhist past. The cruelty of Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime is laid bare at deeply moving museums in his one-time prisons and killing fields. They’re vital viewing for all visitors. Further north, the majesty of ancient Cambodia is called Angkor Wat located near Siem Reap. The Cambodian government has made efforts to preserve the integrity of traditional Khmer culture, but younger generations are hungry for a change. The tourism industry is the country’s second-greatest source of income (hard currency) after the textile industry. Over 2.5 million people visit Angkor Wat every year. Other major tourist spots are Battambang, Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep.
The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, practised by approximately 95 percent of the population. Agriculture remains the dominant economic sector, with strong growth in textiles, construction, garments and tourism leading to increased foreign investment and international trade. However, Cambodia is most known for its war and Pol Pot. The Vietnam war extended into Cambodia with the US bombing inside Cambodia between 1969 and 1973. The Khmer Rouge emerged as a major power, taking Phnom Penh in 1975 and later carrying out the Cambodian Genocide between from 1975 until 1979. The Khmer Rouge army was slowly built up in the jungles of Eastern Cambodia during the late 1960s, supported by the North Vietnamese Army. Despite a massive American bombing against them, (Tens of thousands of people were killed in the bombings between 1970-1973) the Khmer Rouge won the Cambodian Civil war when in 1975 they captured the Cambodian capital and overthrew the government. Following their victory, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, renamed the country and immediately set about forcibly evacuating the country’s major cities. The regime murdered hundreds of thousands of their perceived political opponents. Ultimately, the Cambodian genocide led to the deaths of 1.5 to 3 million people, around 25% of Cambodia’s population. It took till October 1991 that peace returned to Cambodia. Corruption is huge and effects all levels of government, judiciary, police and customs. People must deal with extensive red tape when obtaining licenses and permits, especially construction related permits, and the demand for and supply of bribes are commonplace in this process. The 2010 Anti-Corruption Law provided no protection to whistle-blowers, and whistle-blowers can be jailed for up to 6 months if they report corruption that cannot be proven