Sat, Sep 23, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Globe trotting: Cambodia 世界走透透-柬埔寨

Cambodia, the land of the Mekong River and the Khmer people, has seen its fair share of violence and tragedy. Today it is a country on the rise, nurturing its rich heritage and tradition in order to build a nation of peace and prosperity for its people.湄公河與高棉人的土地柬埔寨,在見證暴力與悲劇過後終於否極泰來。現今的柬埔寨是一個新興國家,孕育了豐富的遺產與傳統,為人民打造一個和平繁榮的國家。

A closer look: 論古說今

The country of Cambodia is mostly made up of the Khmer people, who at one time formed one of the most powerful empires in the region. Its history is mixed up with that of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos; what we see today as seperate countries were constantly changing groups of city states in centuries past.

As is true with most of the region, Cambodia has a violent history that has given its present-day economy some very serious challenges to overcome. The country was at one time under the protection of the French, changed hands during WWII and then endured a very rocky period after declaring its political independence.

Unfortunately, Cambodia is often known for the violent riod of time it was under the rule of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979. No one is sure exactly how many people died, but most people believe it was at least a quarter of the country's population. The Khmer Rouge was an extreme communist movement. During its rule, you could be killed for as little as seeming too intellegent or educated. Starvation was widespread; farmers became so desperate for food that they ate the rice seeds they had saved to plant. Because of this, for decades after the Khmer Rouge's rule, the country which had once depended on rice for food had trouble making enough to feed its population. Today, the signs of Cambodia's ongoing recovery are still apparent. Thirty-five percent of the country's population is under the age of 15, and it is considered the third-most landmined country in the world.

柬埔寨主要是由一度在中南半島成立最強大帝國之一的高棉人組成。柬埔寨的歷史經常被泰國、越南與寮國歷史混為一談。我們今日所見的這些獨立國家,都是數世紀以來不斷更迭的城邦政治之延續。

如同這一區多數國家一樣,柬埔寨有一段殘暴的歷史,讓現今的經濟留下亟待克服的嚴重挑戰。柬埔寨一度受到法國保護,第二次世界大戰時政權轉換,並於宣布政治獨立後歷經一段動盪不安的時期。

不幸的是,柬埔寨經常以一九七五年至一九七九年血腥的紅色高棉統治時期為人所知。無人敢肯定究竟有多少人死亡,不過一般相信至少有四分之一人口喪命。紅色高棉是極端的共產主義運動,在這段統治時期,人們可能因為是知識份子或受過教育等微不足道的理由就慘遭滅口。人民飢荒,哀鴻遍野,農民因食物短缺,連貯藏來種植用的稻種都拿來食用。正因為如此,在紅色高棉統治結束後的數十年,一度以稻米為主食的柬埔寨糧食供不應求,無法讓人民溫飽。現今,柬埔寨持續復甦的跡象依然顯著。柬埔寨有35%的人口年齡在十五歲以下,也被視為是全球地雷分布第三多的國家。

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