Cambodia Timeline

770 to 835 – King Jayaraman II, founder of the Khmer Empire.

802 to 1431 – The Khmer (Angkor) Empire.

15th C to 19th C – Middle Period

1863 – Cambodia becomes a protectorate of France.

1941 – Prince Norodom Sihanouk becomes king.

1941 – Japanese troops enter Cambodia, leaving Vichy French administration in place.

1945 – Japan takes control of Cambodia from France, and then exits.

1945 – Khmer Issarak form, a loose association of anti-colonialist groups.

1946 – France re-establishes protectorate.

1949 to 1953 – Saloth Sâr (later Pol Pot) educated in Paris and founded ‘Cercle Marxiste’.

1953 – Cambodia wins independence, the Kingdom of Cambodia is declared.

1955 – Sihanouk abdicates, to become prime minister.

1965 – Sihanouk breaks off relations with the US over the Vietnam War. He allows North Vietnamese guerrillas to set up supply bases in the country.

1965 – Secret bombing of Cambodia authorised by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

1967 – As part of Sihanouk’s attempt to re-normalise US relations, Jacqueline Kennedy visits Cambodia on a personal trip.

1969 – US again begins secret bombing on Cambodian soil against North Vietnamese (Operation Menu).

1969 – Sihanouk re-establishes diplomatic relations with US; orders attacks on Vietnamese Communists in the country.

1970 – Khmer Rouge a minor group.

1970 – March: Violent demonstrations in Phnom Penh against Vietnamese incursions.

1970 – March: Prime Minister Lon Nol leads coup against Sihanouk; US immediately recognises the new Government. The Khmer Republic is declared.

1970 – March: Sihanouk, in exile in China, supports guerrillas, including the Khmer Rouge. Announces national united front against Lon Nol government.

1970 – March: Both South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese armies attack Cambodia.

1970 – US continue bombing in support of South Vietnamese operations in Cambodia; Nixon announces US forces enter the country to disrupt North Vietnamese and Viet Cong bases.

1970 – May 4th, Kent State Shootings during protest against US in Cambodia. Four students killed by National Guard. Nationwide protests in US.

1970 – Congress stops combat forces and advisors in Laos and Cambodia.

1971 – Cambodia suffers major losses in Operation Chenla II.

1971 – By year end, about 30% of the Cambodian population has been displaced.

1972 – Nixon orders the ‘Christmas Bombing’ of North Vietnamese cities.

1973 – Paris Peace Agreement for Vietnam cease-fire; does not include Cambodia.

1973 – Khmer Rouge become independent of the North Vietnamese and step up attacks; forced movement of village populations.

1973 – US resumes bombing in Cambodia; ended by Congress in August.

1973 – Sihanouk says he will negotiate with the US but various attempts from all sides fail.

1973 – Henry Kissinger receives Nobel Peace Prize. Co-winner North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho refuses to accept the prize as peace not achieved.

1974 – US continues to provide aid. Aid for severely malnourished civilian population was inconsistently distributed by Cambodian government.

1975 – US airlift of supplies into besieged Phnom Penh.

1975 – April 17th, the Khmer Rouge occupy Phnom Penh and declare ‘Year Zero’. Evacuation of Phnom Penh begins.

1975 – April 30th, end of Vietnam War with fall of Saigon.

1976 – Khieu Samphan is Head of State; the country is re-named Democratic Kampuchea.

1977 – Fighting breaks out with Vietnam.

1977 – Pol Pot emerges as ‘Brother Number One’ and aligns openly with China.

1978 – Major purges within the Khmer Rouge organization.

1978 – Responding to Khmer Rouge attacks, Vietnamese forces invade.

1979 – Vietnam quickly take Phnom Penh. Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge flee to northern border area. The People’s Republic of Kampuchea is declared.

1981 – The pro-Vietnam Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party wins general elections. The international community does not recognise the new government.  The government-in-exile, including the Khmer Rouge and Sihanouk, retains UN seat.

1985 – Hun Sen becomes prime minister.

1989 – Vietnamese troops withdraw. The State of Cambodia is declared. Buddhism re-established as the state religion.

1991 – Peace agreement signed in Paris. The UN transitional authority (UNTAC) is formed, and Sihanouk becomes head of state.

1993 – Royalist Funcinpec party wins general election, followed by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). UNTAC agrees to power sharing. Funcinpec’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh becomes prime minister with Hun Sen as deputy. Ministries shared by their two parties. Monarchy is restored with Sihanouk as King. The Kingdom of Cambodia is declared. The government-in-exile loses the UN seat.

1994 – Many Khmer Rouge surrender in a government amnesty.

1996 – Deputy leader of Khmer Rouge, Ieng Sary, forms a new party and is granted amnesty by Sihanouk.

1997 – Pol Pot orders the killing of Son Sen, previously head of Santebal, the Khmer Rouge security structure, including Tuol Sleng.

1997 – Grenade attack, killing 17 people, widely seen as a failed assassination attempt on Sam Rainsy, an opposition leader.

1997 – Pol Pot is put on trial by the Khmer Rouge, led by Ta Mok (Brother Number Five, aka ‘the butcher’), and sentenced to life imprisonment.

1997 – Ranariddh secretly negotiates with Khmer Rouge to end conflict. Khieu Samphan accepts the overtures.

1997 – After fighting between their forces, Hun Sen becomes Prime Minister and Prince Ranariddh leaves Cambodia. 

1998 – Ranariddh is tried in absentia and found guilty of arms smuggling but is pardoned by the King.

1998 – Pol Pot dies in Anlong Veng.

1998 – General election won by Hun Sen’s CPP. A coalition is formed between CPP and Funcinpec. Hun Sen becomes Prime Minister; Ranariddh President of National Assembly.

1998 – Reconciliation agreement between Hun Sen Government and Khmer Rouge (December 4th).

1999 – Ta Mok arrested inside Thai border.

1999 – Cambodia admitted into ASEAN.

2001 – Law passed to set up UN-Cambodian tribunal to bring genocide charges against Khmer Rouge.

2002 – Ta Mok charged with crimes against humanity.

2002 – First multi-party local elections; CPP Party wins all but 23 of 1,620 communes.

2003 – Serious dispute with Thailand. Hun Sen’s CPP wins general elections but fails to gain majority.

2004 – Prime Minister Hun Sen is re-elected after CPP strikes deal with Funcinpec.

2004 – Cambodia enters World Trade Organisation (WTO).

2004 – King Sihanouk abdicates and is succeeded by his son Norodom Sihamoni.

2005 – Opposition leader Sam Rainsy goes abroad after parliament takes away immunity from prosecution.

2005 – Tribunal to try Khmer Rouge leaders agreed by UN, after funding disputes.

2005 – Rainsy is convicted in absentia of defaming Hun Sen.

2006 – Rainsy receives a royal pardon and returns home.

2006 – Ta Mok dies, aged 80.

2007 – Ranariddh is sentenced in absentia for selling Funcinpec party’s headquarters, despite denials.

2007 – UN-backed tribunal (ECCC) begins questioning Khmer Rouge suspects.

2007 – Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea (Brother Number Two) arrested.

2008 – Hun Sen’s CPP claims victory in parliamentary elections but criticised by EU monitors.

2008 – Cambodia and Thailand move troops near to Preah Vihear temple after disputed listing as Cambodian UN World Heritage site. Two Cambodian and one Thai soldier die in gunfights.

2009 – Khmer Rouge leader Kaing Guek Eav (Duch, former head of the secret police, the Santebal) goes on trial over murder and torture at Tuol Sleng.

2009 – Parliament again strips Sam Rainsy of immunity. He is charged but fails to appear in court.

2010 – Duch is found guilty of crimes against humanity and given 35-year sentence.

2010 – Diplomatic ties with Thailand resumed.

2010 – Sam Rainsy is sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail.

2010 – ECCC indicted Ieng Thirith (former Khmer Rouge Minister of Social Affairs), Ieng Sary (former Foreign Minister), Khieu Samphan (former President of Presidium) and Nuon Chea on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and murder.

2011 – Ieng Thirith declared medically unfit for trial, died 2015.

2012 – Duch loses appeal against conviction and has sentence increased to life.

2012 – Cambodia and Thailand withdraw their troops from Preah Vihear area.

2012 – King Sihanouk dies of heart attack, at age 89.

2013 – Ieng Sary dies while awaiting trial.

2013 – Parliament passes a bill making it illegal to deny Khmer Rouge atrocities.

2013 – Sam Rainsy returns from exile.

2013 – Hun Sen’s CPP claims victory in general election with 68 seats in National Assembly versus Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) 55 seats. Mass protests over contested results.

2014 – Nuon Chea (‘Brother Number Two’) and Khieu Samphan jailed for life.

2015 – Im Cheam (suspected forced Labour Camp leader) and Meas Muth (former Navy Commander) charged with crimes against humanity.

2016 – Opposition CNRP resumes its months-long parliamentary boycott.

2016- Tribunal upholds life sentences of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

2016 – Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy sentenced to five years in prison after disputes about a Facebook posting.

2017 – Sam Rainsy resigns as head of CNRP. Parliament amends a law to bar anyone convicted of an offence from running for office.

2017 – Human rights activist Kem Sokha is appointed as the leader of CNRP, replacing Sam Rainsy.

2017 – Kem Sokha is charged with treason.

2017 – Supreme Court dissolves the CNRP.

2018 – Lèse-majesté law passed, making it a criminal offence to defame the king.

2018 – Hun Sen’s CPP wins all 125 seats at general election.

2019 – Nuon Chea dies in prison whilst serving life sentence, aged 93.