A nation with a tragic past

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 September, 2010, 12:00am

Tourists flock to Cambodia to see its world-famous ancient temples and beautiful scenery. But the people of this small Southeast Asian country are not only trying to cope with a difficult present, they're also still struggling to come to terms with the nation's tragic past.

During the early 1970s, Cambodia suffered heavy bombing by the US Air Force - a spillover from the war taking place in neighbouring Vietnam.

The Khmer Rouge rebels seized power in 1975. Under their leader Pol Pot, these radical communists are believed to be responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians.

It wasn't until 1978, that an invading Vietnamese army finally drove the Khmer Rouge from power.

Today, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and relies heavily on foreign aid for its survival. One of the reasons for its slow economic development is believed to be widespread corruption.

And it was only last year that some of the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge started to go on trial for their crimes.