This map marks the location of Cambodia in Southeast Asia and shows the coastline today in gray, and the coastline before the great rise in sea level 20,000 years ago in cyan when the last ice age ended. Cambodia was completely landlocked more than 20,000 years ago, in the middle of a very large rain forest. Surrounded by the mountains to the north, hominids left Southeast Asia for safer ground in China and India after the sea level increased more than 400 feet within a relatively short time. The Strait of Malacca and Indonesia/Phlippine became islands 20,000 year ago as a result of this relatively rapid rise in sea level.
Invoking the first law of geography, Indians were the first to return with Hinduism less than 5,000 years ago, and Buddhism 2,000 years ago. The Chinese recorded history includes mentions of Funan (扶南) and Zhenle(真肋) close to 2,000 years ago, before Cambodia’s better known empires like Khmer (高棉) emerged 1,000 years ago, along with the well known Hindu turned Buddhist temple Angkor Wat. Today, Angkor Wat is less than 60 feet above sea level and will be submerged as the global warming continues into the next millennium. Already, the water level in Tonle Sap, the largest lake in Southeast Asia, changes by 35 feet every year between the monsoon and dry seasons as the Mekong River flows toward and away from the Tonle Sap, respectively.
No true philosopher comparable in statue to Confucius in China or Ashoka in India emerged in Cambodia. The closest Cambodian King to a philosopher was Jayavarman VII at the turn of the 13th century who was the first Buddhist ruler after a long line of Hindi rulers in Cambodia. Jayavarman VII built more than 100 hospitals but spent most of his resources on building Angkor Thom (or capital city) with temples for his father and mother. Surrounded by enemies to the west (Siam or Thailand) and the East (Cham or Vietnam and Indonesia), Cambodia crumbled until the re-discovery by Christian Europeans and Middle East Muslims who had very little success penetrating Southeast Asia with Christianity and Islam. Both Christians and Muslims have been more successful with beachhead settlements, but not inland Southeast Asia.
The story of Cambodia follows a similar pattern as Africa where Christians dominate the west coast, and Muslims/Indians dominate the east coast, while Christians fought Muslims for the north coast of Africa. The landlocked Africans were forced farther inland and the destruction of African civilization continued with the Christian slave trade in the Americas and Europe, and Muslims slave trade in the Middle East. In Cambodia, the Christian British empire introduced opium in the Bengal region of India. This illegal drug trade expanded into Southeast Asia, and corruption has penetrated Cambodia today in the form of customs officers who, as civil servants, openly ask tourists for tips when entering and leaving Cambodia.
There are plenty of opportunities to promulgate Moral Innovations in places like Cambodia. The Cambodian Prime Minister today is Hun Sen, grandchild of Chinese immigrants into Cambodia. Is Hun Sen a moral innovator?