When is Cambodia’s Independence Day?

Year Date Day
2019 Nov 9 Saturday
2020 Nov 9 Monday

Cambodia’s Independence Day falls on November 9 every year! The same day that the country gained its independence back in 1953. This is an important public holiday in Cambodia.

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More About Cambodia’s Independence Day?

Cambodia’s Independence Day commemorates the day when Cambodia achieved its independence from French Colonial Rule in 1953. King Norodom Sihanouk began asking for independence from France in 1949 and gained it only four years later in 1953 after nearly 100 years of colonization!

For millennia, the Khmer people had remained independent but during the 19 Century, the kingdom had been reduced to a vassal state of Siam. The kingdom of Siam annexed the western provinces of Cambodia, including Siem Reap, the Angkor Wat area, and more.

To top that off, the growing Vietnamese Nguyen Dynasty began threatening Cambodia’s eastern provinces. In fear of ultimately losing Cambodia, King Norodom signed a treaty with the French to establish a protectorate over the kingdom in 1863.

The treaty allowed the Cambodian Monarchy to remain but the majority of control was given to a French resident general. France gradually expanded its colony in Indochina.

During World War II, the Vichy government signed an agreement with Japan to allow the Japanese military transit through the colonies of French Indochina. The Thai government, allied with Japan, took advantage of this and invaded the western provinces of Cambodia.

Japanese and Thai troops forced authorities to give up control of the Battambang, Sisophon, Siem Reap, and Preah Vihear provinces to Thailand. Near the end of World War II, allied military units entered Cambodia and disarmed the Japanese military forces present in the country. The French were then able to reimpose the colonial administration in October 1945.

On July 3, 1953, France declared that it was ready to grant independence to the three states under its control: Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Finally, at the end of August 1953, the police, military, and judiciary branches were transferred back to Cambodian control.

What Happens During Cambodia’s Independence Day?

During Independence Day, the Khmer celebrate the success of overcoming colonization. There’s a formal ceremony in the morning at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh. All Cambodian leaders and representatives of state organizations and public departments must attend. You should too, but if you can’t the entire event is broadcast on television.

Cambodian Independence Day is celebrated with fun parades, events, and beautiful firework shows. The biggest celebrations will take place in Phnom Penh of course, but you’ll be able to enjoy the day in other large cities.

What should you do during Independence Day?

  • Visit the Independence Monument Ceremony in Phnom Penh
  • Enjoy parades and marching bands
  • Enjoy the various firework shows
  • Visit the Royal Palace
  • Spend some time in museums or talking to locals to learn more about Cambodia’s history

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