Cambodia (Fr. Cambodge), a kingdom of Further India, under the protectorate of France, between lat. 10° and 14° N., and Ion. 103° and 108° E., bounded N. by Siam, N. E. by Anam, S. E. and S. by French Cochin China, and S. W. and W. by the gulf of Siam. Its greatest length is about 270 m., greatest breadth about 130 m.; area, about 35,000 sq. m.; pop. estimated at 1,000,000, of which number nearly 60,000 are Anamese, 40,000 Chinese, 40,000 Siamese and Laos; about 10,000 belong to mountain tribes living in a state of almost complete independence.
The principal part of the territory of the kingdom lies in the broad valley of the Mekong or Cambodia river, which has made the region about it one of the most fertile in southern Asia. The extreme eastern and western portions are occupied by mountain ranges. That on the east, high and covered with forests, forms part of the branch of the Himalaya which extends through nearly the whole length of the Indo-Chinese peninsula; and that near the western coast is an isolated chain called by the natives Sompor Arolen. The centre of the great plain thus enclosed, inundated by the Mekong every year between the months of September and November, and enjoying a most favorable climate, has a soil so productive as to require little tillage, and grain of all kinds, but especially rice, sown without the least preparation of the ground, grows without care or cultivation. The district produces in great abundance almost every kind of tropical fruit; palm, banana, orange, citron, olive, mulberry, almond, and fig trees are found in all parts of the plain; the cotton plant and sugar cane are largely cultivated; and tobacco, pepper, and betel form important products.
Various dye-woods, as well as ironwood, teak, rosewood, etc, are found on the lower spurs of the mountains, and are among the chief articles of export. Among .the animals of Cambodia are the elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, tapir, and the smaller animals common to most parts of southern Asia. The elephant is domesticated here, as in Hindostan and Burmah. Although not especially rich in mineral products, the country produces in moderate quantities gold, silver, j lead, antimony, and zinc, as well as precious i stones of several kinds. - Like the Anamese, the Cambodians exhibit traits of both the Mongolian and Malay races. They are somewhat below the middle height, active, but rather supple and agile than strong. Their hair is coarse and abundant, but they wear no beards, pulling out the scanty growth which would otherwise cover the chin. They shave a portion of the head, but leave the crown untouched; the men wear the long tuft of hair thus preserved in a knot; the women twist it into two braids. To touch the head of a Cambodian is one of the greatest insults that can be given him; and the national etiquette carries this reverence for the head to the most ridiculous extremes.
Not a few ceremonies are connected with the dressing of the tuft or knot; and the first time of cutting the hair of a child, when it has attained the age of 12 or 13 years, is an occasion of peculiar solemnity, and is called the " ceremony of hair-cutting." The dress of the Cambodians of both sexes consists of a simple tunic of silk or cotton. The habits of the people are simple, and their manners courteous; they are easily pleased, docile, and peaceable. In their reverence for age, their formal etiquette, and many of their ceremonies, they resemble the Chinese. Polygamy, which is customary among them, is also regulated here as it is in China, the first wife holding a position superior to that of the others, and her children being the legal heirs. One of the singular customs peculiar to Cambodia is that when a woman is delivered of a child she is placed before a hot fire, and is obliged to remain for several weeks with her back exposed to its heat. Physicians receive no pay unless a cure is effected. Slavery exists throughout the country, nearly one third of the population being slaves - either prisoners of war who are kept in this condition, or persons who have sold themselves or have been sold by their parents.
These slaves are seldom ill-treated, and can buy their freedom for a sum fixed by the authorities. The houses of the people are raised upon bamboos above the point reached by the waters of the Mekong during the inundations. They are thatched with palm leaves, and are generally neatly kept and comfortable. - The government of Cambodia is an absolute, monarchy. The country is divided into provinces governed by mandarins, appointed by the king, and under the immediate supervision of the premier or " superintending minister" (crdon). The judicial system is better regulated than in any of the neighboring kingdoms. There are lower and appellate courts, and magistrates corresponding to the police justices of western countries, who make preliminary examinations, have jurisdiction in case of slight offences, etc. An appeal to the king is allowed the poorest subject, and one day in each week is given at the palace to the consideration of such petitions. The capital, Panomping or Namwang, a town of about 50,-000 inhabitants, on the Cambodia river, is the seat of all the chief courts and offices of government. Decapitation for grave offences, imprisonment and fines for lesser crimes, and confinement at hard labor for debt, are among the punishments allowed by law; but torture is rarely employed.
The revenues of the kingdom are chiefly derived from land taxes, customs dues, taxes on junks and boats, and monopolies in the hands of the government. Mexican piastres brought from China, Cambodian coins of similar size and value, masses of silver valued by weight, and small zinc coins pierced like the Chinese cash, form the currency. - The kingdom of Cambodia, which included until the latter part of the 17th century the region now known as Cochin China, is first mentioned in Chinese works as the country called Tchinla, which about A. D. 616 became tributary to China, and formed a dependency of Tonquin, then subject to Chinese rule. In 625, however, Tchinla regained its independence, and by 1016 it had become so powerful that in that year the emperor of China applied to its king for help against Tonquin, which had itself rebelled. Soon after this, according to the Chinese chronicler, the people began to call their country Kamphoutchi, from which name the Kambodia of the early Portuguese explorers, and the modern Cambodia, are evidently derived, though the native name is now Sroc Khmer (the country of the Khmer). The Siamese accounts of Cambodia's early history differ from the Chinese, and the whole subject is involved in great obscurity.
Toward the end of the 17th century the country was overrun and conquered by the Anamese, and it was at this time that the emperor of Anam set apart a portion of the south of Cambodia for the settlement of the Chinese who had fled from their own homes for political reasons, and were so numerous and turbulent as to cause great anxiety to the Anamese government. Thus the country was divided into the two parts which have ever since been more or less distinct - that now called Cambodia, and the modern Lower Cochin China. Aided by Anamese settlers, the new inhabitants maintained their position and kept the Cambodians proper in the north. In 1787 the king of Cochin China, Gya-Long, was dethroned by a revolution, and through French missionaries who were in the country, and had converted him to Christianity when very young, applied for help to the court of France. Though the French revolution prevented the execution of a treaty made at Versailles with Gya-Long's emissaries, several French officers entered his service, and with their aid he not only recovered his kingdom, but possessed himself of all Cambodia and the Anamese territory, and established the government of the whole under the name of the empire of Anam. He reigned with skill, and favored Christianity in his dominions, allowing the French missionaries many privileges.
Under his successors, however, this state of affairs was changed, and persecutions and quarrels with France followed, leading to that series of events which ended in 1862 with the subjection of Cochin China by the French. (See Cochin China.) During the decade preceding the French conquest, Cambodia had been several times compelled to seek help from Siam against its other neighbors; and the Siamese government had indemnified itself by taking possession of several northern provinces of the country. When, in 1860, Norodom, the rightful heir to the Cambodian throne, had been duly crowned, but almost immediately dethroned by a party headed by his younger brother, he increased the obligation by again demanding Siamese aid in recovering his power. This help he could only obtain on such conditions as reduced his kingdom to a mere dependency of Siam; but he accepted them, and was restored to a nominally independent throne. The uncertain position thus given to Cambodia seemed to make its possession a special object of intrigue for the English and French in the East. The king, galled by his relation to Siam, was willing to accept almost any conditions which would free him from the Siamese rule, and both the European nations showed evidence of wishing to take advantage of this disposition.
France obtained the opportunity through its conquest of Cochin China, and after some negotiation a French protectorate was established over Cambodia on Aug. 11, 1863. For an account of the reasons given by France for this step, see an article by one of the French diplomatists concerned, in the Revue dcs deux Mondes for February, 1869, entitled Le royaurne du Cambodge et V etahlissement du protectorat francais. See "Travels in Indo-China and the Chinese Empire," from the French of Louis de Carne (London, 1872).