Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Wednesday, 27 April 2011 11:27 UK

Timeline: Cambodia

A chronology of key events:

1863 - Cambodia becomes a protectorate of France. French colonial rule lasts for 90 years.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot
Almost two million people died under Pol Pot's regime

1941 - Prince Norodom Sihanouk becomes king. Cambodia is occupied by Japan during World War II.

1945 - The Japanese occupation ends.

1946 - France re-imposes its protectorate. A new constitution permits Cambodians to form political parties. Communist guerrillas begin an armed campaign against the French.


1953 - Cambodia wins its independence from France. Under King Sihanouk, it becomes the Kingdom of Cambodia.

1955 - Sihanouk abdicates to pursue a political career. His father becomes king and Sihanouk becomes prime minister.

1960 - Sihanouk's father dies. Sihanouk becomes head of state.

1965 - Sihanouk breaks off relations with the US and allows North Vietnamese guerrillas to set up bases in Cambodia in pursuance of their campaign against the US-backed government in South Vietnam.

1969 - The US begins a secret bombing campaign against North Vietnamese forces on Cambodian soil.

Skulls on display at a killing field in Choeung Ek, south of Phnom Penh
Skulls at Choeung Ek, one of the main Khmer Rouge killing fields

1970 - Sihanouk is deposed in a coup while abroad. The prime minister, General Lon Nol, assumes power. He proclaims the Khmer Republic and sends the army to fight the North Vietnamese in Cambodia. Sihanouk - in exile in China - forms a guerrilla movement.

Early 1970s - Cambodian army faces two enemies: the North Vietnamese and communist Khmer Rouge guerriillas. Gradually, the army loses territory.

Cambodia Year Zero

1975 - Lon Nol is overthrown as the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot occupy Phnom Penh. Sihanouk briefly becomes head of state, the country is re-named Kampuchea.

All urban dwellers are forcibly evacuated to the countryside to become agricultural workers. Money becomes worthless, basic freedoms are curtailed and religion is banned. The Khmer Rouge coin the phrase "Year Zero".

Hundreds of thousands of the educated middle-classes are tortured and executed in special centres. Others starve, or die from disease or exhaustion. The total death toll during the next three years is estimated to be at least 1.7 million.

1976 - The country is re-named Democratic Kampuchea. Sihanouk resigns, Khieu Samphan becomes head of state, Pol Pot is prime minister.

1977 - Fighting breaks out with Vietnam.

1978 - Vietnamese forces invade in a lightning assault.

Angkor Wat temple complex
Angkor Wat, thought to be the world's largest religious structure

1979 January - The Vietnamese take Phnom Penh. Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge forces flee to the border region with Thailand. The People's Republic of Kampuchea is established. Many elements of life before the Khmer Rouge take-over are re-established.

1981 - The pro-Vietnamese Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party wins the elections to the National Assembly. The international community refuses to recognise the new government. The government-in-exile, which includes the Khmer Rouge and Sihanouk, retains its seat at the United Nations.

1985 - Hun Sen becomes prime minister. Cambodia is plagued by guerrilla warfare. Hundreds of thousands become refugees.

1989 - Vietnamese troops withdraw. Hun Sen tries to attract foreign investment by abandoning socialism. The country is re-named the State of Cambodia. Buddhism is re-established as the state religion.

An uneasy peace

1991 - A peace agreement is signed in Paris. A UN transitional authority shares power temporarily with representatives of the various factions in Cambodia. Sihanouk becomes head of state.

Cambodia's King Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk campaigned for independence

1993 - General election sees the royalist Funcinpec party win the most seats followed by Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP). A three-party coalition is formed with Funcinpec's Prince Norodom Ranariddh as prime minister and Hun Sen as deputy prime minister. The monarchy is restored, Sihanouk becomes king again. The country is re-named the Kingdom of Cambodia. The government-in-exile loses its seat at the UN.

1994 - Thousands of Khmer Rouge guerrillas surrender in government amnesty.

1996 - Deputy leader of Khmer Rouge Ieng Sary forms a new party and is granted amnesty by Sihanouk.


1997 - Hun Sen mounts a coup against the prime minister, Prince Ranariddh, and replaces him with Ung Huot. The coup attracts international condemnation. The Khmer Rouge put Pol Pot on trial and sentence him to life imprisonment.

Palace guard patrols outside Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
Royal palace, Phnom Penh: Monarch's position is largely symbolic

1998 - Prince Ranariddh is tried in his absence and found guilty of arms smuggling, but is then pardoned by the king. Pol Pot dies in his jungle hideout. Elections in July are won by Hun Sen's CPP, amid allegations of harassment. A coalition is formed between the CPP and Funcinpec. Hun Sen becomes prime minister, Ranariddh is president of the National Assembly.

2001 - Senate approves a law to create a tribunal to bring genocide charges against Khmer Rouge leaders.

2001 June - International donors, encouraged by Cambodia's reform efforts, pledge $560 million in aid at a donor conference in Tokyo.

2001 June - Five Cambodians, three of them US citizens, are sentenced to life for involvement in armed attack by US-based Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) on government buildings in Phnom Penh in 2000. CFF says it will continue campaign to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen.

2001 December - First bridge across the Mekong River opens, linking the east and west of the country. The 1.36km bridge cost $56 million.

Demonstrators outside Thai embassy in Phnom Penh January 2003
Resentments over the Angkor temples spilled over into violence

2002 February - First multi-party local elections; ruling Cambodian People's Party wins in all but 23 out of 1,620 communes.

2002 May - Prince Norodom Chakrapong sets up his own Norodom Chakrapong Khmer Soul Party; his half-brother Prince Norodom Ranariddh heads the Funcinpec party, part of the ruling coalition.

2003 January - Serious diplomatic upset with Thailand over comments attributed to a Thai TV star that the Angkor Wat temple complex was stolen from Thailand. Angry crowds attack the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh. More than 500 Thai nationals are evacuated by military aircraft.

2003 July - Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party wins general elections but fails to secure sufficient majority to govern alone.

Hun Sen re-elected

2004 July - After nearly a year of political deadlock, Prime Minister Hun Sen is re-elected after his ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) strikes a deal with the royalist Funcinpec party.

2004 August - Parliament ratifies kingdom's entry into World Trade Organisation (WTO).

2004 October - King Sihanouk abdicates and is succeeded by his son Norodom Sihamoni.

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy (2006 picture)
Sam Rainsy - outspoken opposition leader

2005 February - Opposition leader Sam Rainsy leaves Cambodia after parliament strips him of his immunity from prosecution, leaving him open to defamation charges brought by the ruling coalition.

2005 April - Tribunal to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders gets green light from UN after years of debate about funding.

2005 October - Prime minister signs a controversial border agreement with Vietnam. Legal action is taken against some critics of the deal, prompting international concern.

2005 December - Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, in exile in France, is convicted by a Cambodian court of defaming PM Hun Sen and is sentenced to nine months in prison.

2006 February - Sam Rainsy receives a royal pardon and comes home after a year in exile.

2006 May - Parliament votes to abolish prison terms for defamation. The legislation had been used to jail some government critics.

2006 July - Ta Mok, one of the top leaders of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, dies aged 80.

2006 October - Royalist Funcinpec party, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, drops Prince Norodom Ranariddh as its leader.

2007 March - Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who now lives abroad, is sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison for selling the Funcinpec party's headquarters. He denies the charge.

Khmer Rouge trials

2007 July - UN-backed court tribunals begin questioning suspects about allegations of genocide by the Khmer Rouge.

2007 September - Most senior surviving member of Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea - "Brother Number Two" - is arrested and charged with crimes against humanity.

2007 November - Genocide tribunal holds first public hearing - a bail plea from a former prison chief, Khang Khek Ieu, who was better known as Comrade Duch.

2008 February - Cambodian court sentences 20 member of small Cambodian Freedom Fighters group to prison for attack on prime minister's office in November 2000.

2008 April - US court convicts Cambodian-born Cambodian Freedom Fighters leader Chhun Yasith of masterminding 2000 attack.

2008 July - PM Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) claims victory in parliamentary elections. EU monitors say the vote fell short of international standards.

New spat with Thailand

Buddhist monks walk through Preah Vihear temple
The Preah Vihear temple sparked a border standoff with Thailand

2008 July - Cambodia and Thailand move troops to disputed land near ancient Preah Vihear temple after decision to list it as UN World Heritage Site fans nationalist emotions on both sides.

2008 October - Two Cambodian soldiers are killed in an exchange of fire with Thai troops in the disputed border zone.

2009 February - Former Khmer Rouge leader Duch goes on trial in Phnom Penh on charges of presiding over the murder and torture of thousands of people as head of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison camp.

2009 November - Parliament strips opposition leader Sam Rainsy of immunity. He is later charged but fails to appear in court.

Diplomatic spat with Thailand, after Cambodia refuses to extradite ex-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and appoints him as an economic adviser instead.

2009 December - China increases aid after praising Cambodia for sending 20 Uighur asylum-seekers back to China.

Comrade Duch jailed

2010 July - Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Comrade Duch is found guilty of crimes against humanity and given 35-year jail sentence.

2010 August - Diplomatic ties with Thailand resumed after Cambodian government announces resignation of ex-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser.

2010 September - Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy is sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail after being found guilty of manipulating a map to suggest Cambodia is losing land to Vietnam.

2011 February - Thai and Cambodian forces exchange fire across the disputed border area near the Preah Vihear temple. Both sides agree to allow Indonesian monitors in to prevent further clashes.

2011 April - New fighting breaks out between Thai and Cambodian forces near two disputed Hindu temples of Ta Moan and Ta Krabey, later spreading to area of Preah Vihear temple.

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