Buddhism was introduced to Cambodia in around 12th century. It grew and eventually became the popular religion in Angkor Kingdom, and now in the Kingdom of Cambodia. There are two major branches of Buddhism in Cambodia: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). The number of Buddhists is accounted for 95% of Cambodian population and worship the Buddha.
In the period of 1975-1979, the vast majority of Cambodia’s Buddhist monks were murdered by the Khmer Rouge and virtually all of the country’s more than 3000 temples were damaged or destroyed.
The Buddhists believe in a cycle of eternal change in which a person is continually reborn, in human or nonhuman form, depending on his or her actions in the previous life. Therefore, they follow the teaching of Buddha and try to earn merit by giving money, goods to the temples or serving meals for the monks. The little boys are usually sent to the temples by their parent and live there as novices. The temples are considered as schools and the monks are teachers. The Cambodians think that their children could have the best education at the temples. Young men are also being encouraged to become monks for about one week or more, optimally between the time he finishes school and starts his career or gets married. By doing this, they will collect more merits in their good karma to reach nirvana.