In pursuit of a rural utopia, the Khmer Rouge abolished money and private property and ordered city dwellers into the countryside to cultivate the fields.
An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians perished during the next three years - many died from exhaustion or starvation, others were systematically tortured and executed for being "enemies of the state". Only now is Cambodia beginning to put the mechanism in place to bring those responsible for the "killing fields" to justice.
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and it relies heavily on aid. Foreign donors have urged the government to clamp down on pervasive corruption. Subsistence farming employs 70% of the workforce, with the Mekong River providing fertile, irrigated fields for rice production. Exports of clothing provide most of Cambodia's foreign exchange.
Tourism is important to the economy. The imposing temple complex at Angkor, built between the ninth and 13th centuries by Khmer kings, is a UN heritage site and a big draw for visitors.
Another industry growing in Cambodia is that of human trafficking. In partnership with the Not for Sale Campaign against human trafficking, Global Exchange is facilitating delegations to Cambodia geared specifically to confronting the realities of the global trade of human beings. Find out more about Cambodia and the growing problem of human trafficking through our Reality Tours.