Origins and OverviewCambodia is derived from the French word cambodge’ which also has origins from the native Khmer word Kampuchea. It means born of Kambu’. From 1975 to 1989, it was actually known with its Khmer name Kampuchea. Khmer itself is a term referring to the people and culture of Cambodia and between 1970 and 1975 the country was known as KR republic. Its development into a nation started with the systematic organization of rice farming and political units and ended with the formation of the Khmer empire which lasted from about 802-1431. It did not have a fixed size and even at certain periods took over parts of Siam (Thailand) and Vietnamese lands. However, with the emergence of strong empires from both these regions, the Khmer empire receded and would have been absorbed by its neighbours but for the colonization by the French.
The major population is made up of the Khmer people as they make up about 90-95% of the country’s population. The country is densely populated along the rivers where they practice wet rice agriculture. The main language Khmer is related to a number of neighbouring Asian dialects like Vietnamese and Mon. Having been a colony of France, French forms one of the western languages being spoken with the other being English. It is the French who structured and formalized the boundaries and government system while also introducing secular education which had not existed as the only structured form of teaching was the religious kind provided by the monks. Other ethnic minorities include the Vietnamese and the Cham.