Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, mountains and Gulf of Thailand coastline. Phnom Penh, its capital, is home to the art deco Central Market, glittering Royal Palace and the National Museum’s historical and archaeological exhibits. In the country’s northwest are the ruins of Angkor Wat, a massive stone temple complex built during the Khmer Empire.
Cambodia is served by an increasing number of flights from neighboring countries to both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, though the best choice is from Bangkok in Thailand. There are now five overland crossings open to foreigners, two from Thailand, and two from Vietnam and one from Laos. Tourism in Cambodia is one of the most important sectors in Cambodia’s economy. In 2013, tourism arrivals increased by 17.5 percent year on year, with business travelers increasing 47 percent.
Throughout Cambodia’s history, religious principles guided and inspired its arts. A unique Khmer style emerged from the combination of indigenous animistic beliefs and the originally Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. These two religions, along with the Sanskrit language and other elements of Indian civilization, arrived in mainland Southeast Asia during the first few centuries ad.
Seafaring merchants following the coast from India to China brought them to the port cities along the Gulf of Thailand, which were then controlled by the state of Funan in Cambodia. At varying times, Cambodian culture also absorbed Javanese, Chinese, and Thai influences.