cambodias indigenous minorities

The majority of people who comprise Cambodia are the Khmer people- Comprise approximately 90% of the total population and primarily inhabit the lowland Mekong subregion and the central plains. There are the Khmer Kandal (Central Khmers), Khmer Krom (Lowland Khmers), and Khmer Surin (Surin Khmers) in the northwest.  The Khmer people make up the majority of the 16-million people of Cambodia.

Non-indigenous ethnic minorities primarily consist of Chinese Cambodians, Vietnams, and Cham people.

The rest of Cambodia is made up of  indigenous ethnic minorities. The indigenous ethnic minorities, commonly collectively referred to as Montagnards, or the the Khmer Loeu  ("upland Khmer"), constitute the majority in the remote mountainous provinces of Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Kratie province. It is estimated there around 200,000 indigenous people in Cambodia, from 24 different groups, spanning over 15 provinces, and speaking 19 different languages. The majority are located in the sparsely populated highlands- of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri. 

Before most of these minority groups had animist beliefs. Now they many have integrated into khmer culture, or often through land concessions lost their ancestral sacred lands and animals, and now have nothing to prey to.




Untold Cambodia is organized as a timeline. Each story is dated and ordered chronologically.

New untold stories are added to the timeline by the year of key events, which can be seen in the timeline menu, and new updates will be added to the NEWS section, so you can see the newest additions at ease.




history of cambodia

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

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

1945 - The Japanese occupation ends.


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.

1970 - Prime Minister Lon Nol overthrows Sihanouk in coup. 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. Over next few years the Cambodian army loses territory against the North Vietnamese and communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas


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 city dwellers are forcibly moved 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.

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 parliamentary elections. 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.


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.

1993 - General election sees the royalist Funcinpec party win the most seats followed by Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP).  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.