Located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in southeast Asia, the Kingdom of Cambodia can trace its history back to Neolithic times, when it was first inhabited around 2000 BC.
As one of the earliest known kingdoms to the region, the Funans rose to power in the 1st century AD, and flourished through the 6th century.
Under the guidance of Fan Shih-man in the early 3rd century, the Funan Kingdom extended its boundary lines as far south as Malaysia and then west towards Burma, establishing a powerful organization of commercial monopolies, setting the way for future empires within the region.
Following the death of ruler Jayavarman I in 681, the kingdom was broken up into several principalities dominated by the Malayans and Javanese.
During the 12th century the Khmer Empire dominated the region, becoming Southeast Asia's largest empire. Conquests brought on by the Khmers were nearly unstoppable, and Angkor (the largest pre-industrial city in the world at the time) was built as the empire's center of power.
The Khmer Empire began to gradually decline through the 13th century, and Angkor was completely abandoned in 1432 following an attack by the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Subsequently, the economy within the region faltered, and Cambodia reached an age of darkness that lasted until the 19th century.
Cambodia was placed under French ruling by King Norodom in 1863, and remained a protectorate until 1953 when, with the help of successor King Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia finally received their independence.
As a new country, Cambodia established itself as a constitutional monarchy, and tried to uphold a policy of neutrality.
However, as the eastern provinces of Cambodia served as bases for the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong (NVA/VC) forces operating against South Vietnam in the 1960s, the country found itself on the brink of war as the United States began target bombing sections of the NVA/VC.