Information about Norodom Sihanouk

Norodom Sihanouk (31 October 1922 - 15 October 2012)

Norodom Sihanouk (Khmer: នរោត្តម សីហនុ) was a Cambodian statesman, film director, and composer who led Cambodia in various capacities throughout his long career, most often as both King and Prime Minister of Cambodia. In Cambodia, he is known as Samdech Euv (Khmer: សម្តេចឪ, meaning "King Father"). During his lifetime, Cambodia was under various regimes, from French colonial rule (until 1953), an independent kingdom (1953-1970), a republic (1970 - 1975), the Khmer Rouge regime (1975 - 1979), another communist regime (1979 - 1989), a state (1989 - 1993) to finally another kingdom (since 1993).

Sihanouk was the only child of Prince Norodom Suramarit and Princess Sisowath Kossamak, daughter of King Sisowath Monivong. When his grandfather Monivong died in 1941, Sihanouk became king amidst French colonial rule. After the Japanese occupation of Cambodia during World War II, he secured Cambodian independence from France in 1953. He abdicated in 1955 and was succeeded by his father, Suramarit, so as to directly participate in politics. Sihanouk's political organisation Sangkum won the general elections that year and he became prime minister of Cambodia. He governed the country under one-party rule and suppressed political dissent. After his father died in 1960, Sihanouk assumed a new position as Head of State of Cambodia.

Officially neutral in foreign relations, Sihanouk was closer to the communist bloc in practice. The Cambodian coup of 1970 ousted him and he fled to China and North Korea, forming a government-in-exile and a resistance movement there. He encouraged Cambodians to fight the new government and backed the Khmer Rouge during the Cambodian Civil War. He returned as figurehead head of state after the Khmer Rouge's victory in 1975. His relations with the new government soured and in 1976 he resigned. He was placed under house arrest until Vietnamese forces overthrew the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

Sihanouk went into exile again and in 1981 formed FUNCINPEC, a resistance party. The following year, he became president of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), a broad coalition of anti-Vietnamese resistance factions which retained Cambodia's seat at the United Nations, making him Cambodia's internationally recognised head of state. In the late 1980s, informal talks were carried out to end hostilities between the Vietnam-supported People's Republic of Kampuchea and the CGDK. In 1990, the Supreme National Council of Cambodia was formed as a transitional body to oversee Cambodia's sovereign matters, with Sihanouk as its president. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords were signed and the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was established the following year. The UNTAC organised the 1993 Cambodian general elections, and a coalition government, jointly led by his son Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen, was subsequently formed. Sihanouk was reinstated as Cambodia's king. He abdicated again in 2004 and the Royal Council of the Throne chose his son Sihamoni as his successor. Sihanouk died in Beijing in 2012.

Norodom Sihanouk reigned in...
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