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Fierce battle over disputed land around Preah Vihear temple could reignite tension between south-east Asian neighbours
The Preah Vihear temple has been the subject of often rancorous debate within Cambodia and Thailand and between the two nations since the very late 19th century.
The temple was built during the 9th and 10th centuries by the Khmer Empire. As the empire reached its zenith and began a slow decline, the Ayutthaya Kingdom began its climb to the modern-day state of Thailand. Siam and Vietnam conquered Cambodian territory in turn during the Ayutthaya, Thonburi and Rattanakosin eras.
In 1867, Franco-Thai treaty renouncing Thai suzerainty over Cambodia, and leaving Siam for the control of Battambang, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meancheay provinces, which officially became provinces of Thailand. In 1904, a map was made which showed the temple as being within Thailand's boundary. Later in 1907, the 4 provinces were ceded back to France in an exchange for regaining Thai sovereignty of Trat Province and Amphoe Dan Sai of Loei Province, in a border treaty between France and Thailand, during the state visit of King Rama V to France. In 1907 the Thai-Cambodian border was mapped by the French on behalf of a bilateral border commission. However, the subsequent map showed Preah Vihear Temple as being in Cambodia, which is different from the 1904 map. Despite this, Thailand circulated the map for official use . The circulation significantly affects the current dispute.