Cambodia Independence Day is celebrated annually on November 9th. This day marks a very special date for all the Cambodians, as it commemorates Cambodia gaining complete independence in 1953, after being a French colony for nearly 100 years!
November 9th marks an important date for all Cambodians: Independence Day. Cambodia won freedom from France in 1953. A celebration atmosphere takes over the country spreading delight to every single city. In the wake of prevailing upon its independence from France, the country was transformed into an established government under King Norodom Sihanouk.
During the first week of November leading up to the Independence Day special events and festivals take over daily life and there is an evident buzz about the main regions and city areas of Cambodia. The festivals that follow this esteemed date are bright and colorful with the primary focus being the parade that travels before the royal residence to salute the royal family.
Cambodians sit tight all year for their independence day with much intent and it’s a great scene for visitors and travelers as well.
Want to skip ahead to a particular section?
- 1 Cambodia’s Road To Independence:
- 2 Cambodia Early Settlements & Civilization – Funan & Chenla:
- 3 (Cambodia Middle Period) The decline of the State & Sufferings: Cambodia & Siem Wars
- 4 The Colonial Era: How Was Cambodia Colonized by French?
- 5 Why Did Cambodia Gain Independence? – (Quick Overview)
- 6 How Cambodia Gained Independence?
- 7 Cambodia Independence Day: The National Flag of Cambodia
- 8 What Is The Building On The Cambodian Flag?
Cambodia Independence Day History: How Did Cambodia Gain Its Independence?
Independence Day in Cambodia is a public holiday celebrated every year on November 9. This special day is celebrated in Cambodia as a day of pride, joy, remembrance, and strength for the Cambodian culture.
Cambodia’s road to independence was never so easy. The nation had to go through so many hardships before the dream of Independence turned into reality. Before reading the main events, here’s a brief overview of Cambodia Independence Day History:
France began controlling Cambodia in 1863. In the wake of being colonized around 80 years, King Norodom Sihanouk started asserting reliance from France in 1949. In 1953, he was successful to achieve complete independence, and France consented to decolonize the entire nation. Because of this achievement, Cambodians view him as the father and hero of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
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Cambodia’s Road To Independence:
Here we have given a deep insight into Cambodian history up until independence … two thousand years or more! Most people consider Cambodian history just as far as Angkor and present day times, or all the more particularly Angkor and the Khmer Rouge period. But, if you dive deep, you will come to realize that Cambodia has significantly more history than that. Here will be sharing with you that all of Cambodian history, from the earliest times right up to the Day of Independence.
This huge period can be divided – from the earliest starting point of Cambodian history until 1953 when the nation picked up its independence from France – into four periods:
- Early Settlements in Cambodia & Civilization
- The rise of the great city of Angkor
- Cambodia Middle Period: Misery, Sufferings & Decline
- The Colonial Era: Cambodia becomes a French Protectorate
Cambodia Early Settlements & Civilization – Funan & Chenla:
There’s a solid evidence of cave dwellers in northwestern Cambodia living as long ago as 5000 BCE. They were Stone Age People. By 1000 BCE people living close present day Kampong Chhnang was casting bronze (beautiful examples of their work can be found in the National Museum). Their tools and ornaments resembled those found in Bronze Age sites in northeastern Thailand. This doesn’t imply that the early Cambodians were “Thais”.
You need to recall that there were no national borders in Southeast Asia until the colonial period, and also that the general population of what is presently north-eastern Thailand in those far away days most likely communicated in Khmer, or a related language. These people were growing rice and eating fish, and these two things were the important pillars in the country in 1000 BC.
The primary progress or civilization in Cambodia starts to be recorded in 1500 BC, when Cambodians used instruments and weapons produced using Bronze and also figured out how to use iron. This civilization was known to the Chinese who called it Funan.
Funan was an ideal trading kingdom, and the way that it had a broad network of canals, suggests that it was able to mobilize an extensive labor force when required. While Funan was trading with the Chinese, Cambodian culture developed and settlements grew larger. Kingdoms did as well. By the start of the 7th century AD, all of Cambodia was highly civilized.
During the 4th and 5th centuries CE, Cambodia’s political attraction shifted inland from the coastal territory of “Funan” into south-central Cambodia, with a city situated at what is currently the town of Angkor Borei. “Chenla” was the name given to this successor kingdom by the Chinese.
What’s the Importance of Angkor in Independence Landmark? – The Rise of the Great City of Angkor:
Angkor is reminded every day in Cambodia, for example, if you see the Cambodian National; Flag, listen to the national anthem or notice the name of numerous shops. You can see the importance of Angkor in the Independence landmark.
Angkor is a lovely tourist site attracting over a million tourists each year, but for Khmers, it’s also something unique: a beautiful reminder of their ancestors’ phenomenal accomplishments in the fields of craftsmanship and architecture, city planning and hydraulic engineering. The most well-known temple is Angkor Wat which was built in the early 12th century.
For a long time, archaeology in Cambodia, overwhelmed by the French, focused on the kings, temples and the inscriptions that they found at of Angkor so as to build an image and a chronology of the domain. They named twenty-six kings, found the remains of thousands of temples and interpreted more than a thousand Khmer and Sanskrit inscriptions. In reestablishing the major temples at Angkor, the French additionally took in a lot about Cambodian religion the everyday lives of ordinary people.
(Cambodia Middle Period) The decline of the State & Sufferings: Cambodia & Siem Wars
After the mid-15th century, the great city of Angkor started to decline. The most important reason for its declination was the mass transformation of the Cambodians to Theravada Buddhism, a similar Buddhism that is followed by most Cambodians today. The transformation likely happened in the thirteenth century. The transformation put Cambodia on a comparable course to the one being followed at the same time in neighboring Siam and in fact the following few hundred years can be found to a limited extent as a fruitful exchange of culture between these two nations.
Sadly for Cambodia, Siam in the sixteenth century started to request subservience and tribute from the Khmer and kept on doing as such until the landing of the French in 1863. The Cambodians did not lose every one of the wars that they battled with Siam, yet the ones they lost led to a large transfer of Cambodian inhabitants to Siam as prisoners of war.
The Middle Period was the shrinkage of the region under the control of the Cambodian ruler and the decrease in Cambodia’s population.
Another major issue for Cambodia was the rise of a powerful neighbor toward the east. By the mid-17th century, the Nguyen leaders of southern Vietnam gave regal groups in Cambodia an alternative arrangement of patrons to those in Siam. The Vietnamese also blocked Cambodia’s access to the sea, and from around 1650 to 1850 the kingdom was cut-off from the outside world and carried out little to no international trade.
However, it would be incorrect to see the middle period of Cambodia in terms of complete misery or decline. This was the period when the artful culminations of Khmer writing were composed and it was the period that associated Angkorian progress to the general public that the French experienced when they landed in the kingdom in 1860. The connecting tissue among Angkor and the colonial period was made up of Cambodian mainstream culture, its rich dialect, and its social organization.
The Colonial Era: How Was Cambodia Colonized by French?
When French explorers touched base in Cambodia in the early 1860s, they were trying to expand their French business interests in Southeast Asia and were of the view that Cambodia, or more precisely the Mekong, was a gateway to China. The French had already officially occupied southern Vietnam as a province and were anxious to expand the command over the region.
Civil wars, attacks, and invasion from Siam, and a drawn-out Vietnamese protectorate had inundated Cambodia for 50 years. Thai and Vietnamese forces conflicted in Cambodia, and the fighting badly destroyed the country. Its population declined heavily. Seeing this, the recently introduced king, Norodom, who was frightful of Siam, looked for French protection (or all the more definitely, acknowledged it when it was offered). So in 1863 Cambodia turned into a French protectorate.
The French were extremely happy to give this protection, but to the King Norodom’s surprise, protection over the following thirty years transformed into broad political, financial, and economic control. The ruler was minimized.
Although Cambodia was authoritatively a Protectorate, with its very own King, it was too all intents and purposes a colony before the end of the 19th century, and the French, who manufactured their castles and shielded them from performing any important political activities, put all the following three kings of Cambodia on their positions of royalty.
Why Did Cambodia Want Independence from France?
Cambodia under the French ruler earned some economic development. Roads and railways were built, and during the 1920s the industry grew up. But on the other hand, the French imposed heavy taxes on the Cambodians which made the lives of Cambodians extremely difficult.
Cambodia remained a French colony for 90 years from 1863 till November 1953. During this 90-year colonial rule, Cambodians had a hard time of their living. They spent a struggling life and worked hard just to pay the heavy taxes. They had to pay tax on each sort of ownership and animals that they possessed even pets! Khmer literature just existed in the pagodas since people were asked to learn French as their languages.
Why Did Cambodia Gain Independence? – (Quick Overview)
However, the major disadvantages of Cambodia turning into a French protectorate were:
- The French failed to educate Cambodians
- The French permitted them no opportunities, before the 1940s, to partake in the political activities
- The French prepared the nation inadequately for independence.
- Until World War II there was just a single secondary school in the kingdom, and no college or university.
- The French didn’t introduce any efficient legal system in place, and almost no attorneys and judges got appropriate legal training i.e Poor Judiciary System
Seeing this poor state of Cambodians, the King Norodom Sihanouk led many brave Cambodians who were ready to fight for their freedom’s nation.
How Did Cambodia Gain Its Independence from France? (Japan & World War II)
In 1941 Cambodia got occupied by the Japanese. At first, the Japanese enabled French authorities to stay in their posts yet in March 1945 as the Japanese were losing the war they desperately tried to curry favor with the Cambodians. They arrested French authorities and pronounced Cambodia ‘independent’. However when the Japanese surrendered the French assumed control again. They regained Cambodia’s control in October 1945.
Cambodia fell under Japanese rule amid World War II, however, the ruling power was back in the hands of France after the war. Because of unrest, France allowed Cambodia limited self-rule in 1946.
How Cambodia Gained Independence?
The French allowed the Cambodians to have their political parties and a constitution. By the 1949 Treaty, Cambodia was made semi-independent. But all these favors done by French did not quench Cambodian’s hunger for full independence, which was not allowed until 1953.
In 1952, King Sihanouk dismissed the government and took control of the country. On 9 November 1953, France granted full independence to Cambodia. King Norodom Sihanouk became the ruler of the Kingdom of Cambodia and went on to rule for the next 15 years before he was overthrown by a military coup.
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Cambodia Independence Day: The National Flag of Cambodia
The National Flag of Cambodia, also known as Khmer, was first used between 1948 and 1970, and later reintroduced in 1993, after the election of Constituent Assembly in 1993 and reinstitution of monarchy in Cambodia.
What is The History of The Flag of Cambodia?
Cambodia has introduced a total of 10 different flags throughout its history since the mid-19th century. The present-day flag was first adopted in 1948 when Cambodia was a French protectorate and was retained after the nation attained self-rule from France in 1953.
The flag was replaced in 1970 after the foundation of the Khmer Republic. From that point forward, the nation received six other national flags, including the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) flag, used somewhere in the range of 1992 and 1993, until the “Khmer” was reintroduced in 1993 when the country returned to a monarchy.
What is on The Cambodia Flag – What Does The Cambodia Flag Represent?
The flag of Cambodia features a horizontal tri-band made up of two colors: Red and Blue. There are two Blue horizontal bands, one at the top and another at the bottom. The Red band lies in the middle of the two Blue bands, and twice as thick as the Blue bands. There’s a depiction of the Angkor Wat Temple in white centered on the Red Band.
Cambodia Flag Colors & Symbols: What Is The Meaning Of The Flag Of Cambodia?
Cambodia flag colors and symbols are all inspired by the nation’s cultural beliefs and ancient heritage. The flag is made up of three colors: Blue, Red, and White. Read the meaning of the Cambodian Flag here:
- Red Band – represents the nation’s bravery & also the dominant religion in the country, Buddhism
- Blue Band – represents brotherhood, unity, and cooperation among the Cambodian people & also represents the royalty of the country’s monarchy
- White Color of Temple – white color represents Cambodia’s religious beliefs and virtue of purity
- White Temple – represents the Angkor Wat, a 12th-century temple holding a great cultural and spiritual importance among Cambodians. The temple symbolizes integrity, justice, and heritage.
What Is The Building On The Cambodian Flag?
It’s the Angkor Wat Temple – the most important temple ever in Cambodia. The temple was built by the inhabitants and elephants. The building was manufactured using large rocks that are framed in a cube shape. Angkor Wat was the spiritual and political center of the Khmer Empire. The temple attracts thousands of tourists each year, and you can see the sunrise on top and center of the temple on 20 March and 22 or 23 September!
Cambodia Independence Day Celebrations: How Independence Day Is Celebrated In Cambodia?
Cambodia Independence Day is celebrated every year on November 9. The day marks the anniversary of Cambodia’s Independence from France in 1953 – the day when the Cambodians under the leadership of King Norodom Sihanouk got united and marked the end of 90-year French colonial rule!
The Independence Day in Cambodia is celebrated with great enthusiasm and pride. The center of Independence Day celebrations in Cambodia is Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, where the whole nation and government key official gather together at the Independence Monument and light a ‘Victory Fire‘. The celebrations also include military parades, cultural activities, festivals, and colorful firework displays.
Here’s how November 9 Independence Day is celebrated in Cambodia:
1). The celebrations start with special prayers for peace, development, and stability of the region. Early morning, the King presides over the ceremony of lighting the victory fire at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, to mark the anniversary of Cambodia’s Independence from French colonial rule.
Thousands of school students, military personals, civil servants, and foreign diplomatic officials join this great independence celebration. The event is also attended by government key officials including the President and the Prime Minister of Cambodia.
2). The Cambodian Nation gathers in large numbers at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, carrying hundreds of balloons, and holding the photos of the late King Norodom Sihanouk.
A uniformed band performs songs before the arrival of the King. The King arrives in his luxury car, wearing a suit, and walks on the red carpet while his staff in traditional outfits holds a golden umbrella above him. He walks up to the cauldron, the whole nation along with the King recites a prayer with the monks, and then King then lights the ‘Victory Fire‘.
Hundreds of colorful balloons are released into the air after the King lights up the fire. The crowd cheers as the balloons float into the sky and everyone greets Happy Independence Day to each other.
The King then makes his way down from the monument to greet the crowd and shake hands with them, wishing the whole nation a Happy Independence Day.
3). In the evening, hundreds of Cambodians head out to the Royal Palace to watch the colorful fireworks display. The Royal Palace is whole lighted up and there’s a large crowd sitting in the garden area, with mats and delicious food with their family. The grand fireworks bust into the air for 15 minutes, while the nation cheers and greets each other.
4). The Cambodia Independence Celebrations pay special tribute to the accomplishments of King Norodom Sihanouk, the founding father of present Cambodia, who is credited with securing freedom in the early 1950s. The national anthem and military songs are performed, recognizing the sacrifices made by the Kingdom’s military, ancient leaders, and locals in the service of their beloved country.
5). As November 9 is a public holiday in Cambodia, many inhabitants head out with their families to recreational spots and have a memorable picnic. The whole country is beautifully decorated with lights and pennants.
The main attraction spots on Cambodia Independence Day are the Cambodian Cultural Village where Cambodian culture and history is displayed, the Royal Palace where the kings of Cambodia have resided, The Buddha & Hindu Temples, and Mekong River.
The flag of Cambodia can be seen waving everywhere. Delicious dishes are prepared on this day, while cultural festivals and exhibitions add further glitz and glory to the event.
6). Not only this, but the Independence Day festivities also include elephant shows, circuses, folk games, and traditional songs and dances.
Cambodia Independence Day: Public Life
Cambodia Independence is celebrated on November 9 every year following the water festival. The Independence Day is a public holiday in Cambodia. All educational institutes, government, and private offices are closed on this day.
Independence Day Festivities occur all throughout the nation, yet the greatest celebrations unfold in the country’s capital, Phnom Penh. Here, the King, Prime Minister, and government authorities kick off the day with a ceremony at the Independence Monument. Colorful balloons fill the blue sky, and a parade proceeds from the Royal Palace. As the sun sets, fireworks sparkle above the city, and all iconic landmarks, including the Royal Palace, stay lit up.
What Are Some Interesting Facts About Cambodia?
Let’s read some top interesting facts about the Kingdom of Cambodia. A country which was once home to the Khmer civilization, Cambodia has numerous unique cultural aspects. Its way of culture is so rich that it has four cultural heritage artifacts that have been named World Heritage. This includes the ever renowned and ever wonderful Angkor Wat and Preah Vihear temple.
The way of life and impacts of Cambodia are mostly blends of Hinduism and Buddhism that have met up to make something Cambodian. The nation is a wonderful place to visit to find more about Indochina’s way of life and history, and also witness the magnificence of Cambodian architecture, creative art, and unique culture.
- National Motto of Cambodia: “Nation, Religion, King”
- Official Language of Cambodia: Khmer
- Capital City of Cambodia: Phnom Penh
- Religion in Cambodia: 97% people follow Buddhism
- King of Cambodia: Norodom Sihamoni
- Currency of Cambodia: Riel (KHR)
- Population in Cambodia: 16,245,729
- Cambodia’s flag is the only flag in the world to feature a building on it
- The Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the world’s largest monument and attracts millions of tourists each year. It took 35 years to build with 5,000 elephants and 300,000 laborers.
- New temples and ruins are being discovered every year in Angkor Wat. The Angkor ruins extend over an area of 500 acres.
- During the four year rule of the Khmer Rouge, more than 2 million individuals were killed. That is one-fifth of the total population. As a result of the massacre that occurred from 1975-1979 up to 63% of Cambodia’s populace is under 15 years old.
- Cambodians celebrate the New Year in April!
- Insects such as crickets and ants are widely eaten throughout the country. Other famous eatables include fish, veggies, and rice.
- Cambodia’s biggest source of income is textiles while tourism ranks as the second largest source.
- Paramount Pictures paid $10,000 a day to the Cambodian government to film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Angkor Wat.
- Cambodians are of the view that counting a gecko’s chirp will disclose to you whom you will marry. The first chirp means you’ll wed a bachelor, the second chirp means you will marry a widower, the third chip is a bachelor again and so on. You need to keep counting until the point when the gecko stops.
Cambodia Independence Day 2019
Cambodians on Friday, November 9, will mark the 65th anniversary of the country’s independence from France.
Cambodians on Saturday, November 9, will mark the 66th anniversary of the country’s independence from France.