Southeast Asia Biography
sihanouk picture
Norodom Sihanouk (1922-present)

King of Cambodia. Having ascended the throne in 1941, Sihanouk abdicated in 1953 in order to play a greater role in Cambodian politics. Sihanouk dominated the government until he was overthrown in 1970, at which point he called for civil war in order to return to power. The Khmer Rouge, fighting under his name, defeated the Cambodian government in April 1975 but placed Sihanouk under house arrest for nearly four years. After a long exile in China, Sihanouk returned to Cambodia in 1991 to reclaim the throne under a UN-brokered peace accord. Despite the collapse of the accord in July 1997, Sihanouk remains Cambodia's king and its most popular figure.