Khmer Empire

Khmer is the name the Cambodians give to themselves and to their language. The Khmer Empire lasted from 802 to 1431, with its capital at ANGKOR. At its height, it extended over Cambodia, the Mekong delta, Laos, lower Thailand and the isthm of Kra.
The capital Angkor, abandoned after 1431, was overgrown by the jungle until rediscovered by French archaeologists, ANGKOR THOM and ANGKOR WAT are the most important historical sight of southeast Asia.
Economically the Empire was based on agriculture (rice farming, organized irrigation) and on fishery; Angkor is located close to the fish-rich Tonle Sap Lake.
The Khmer culture was strongly influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, the latter still being the dominant religion in Cambodia.
Angkore was sacked by the Cham (of neighbouring Champa) in 1177; more dangerous to the Khmer were the Thai, who founded the Sukhothai state in 1238. Over time, the Khmer Empire declined as vassal states assumed independence. In 1431 the Khmer state succumbed to the Thai.

REFERENCE The Empire of Angkor, c. 1180, in : The History Atlas of Asia, from MacMillan, edited by Ian Barnes, NY 1998, pp.82-83

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 12th 2002, last revised on November 3rd 2004

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