Cambodian religions are strongly influenced by early Indian and Chinese cultures. As early as the beginning of the Christian era, most Funan people were followers of Brahmanism (a forerunner of Hinduism), which merged with the existing animistic beliefs into a new religion - Hinduism and local deities existing side by side.

Today almost 90% of the population are Theravada Buddhists and the faith has had a formative influence on everyday life. Theravada Buddhism entered the country in the 13th century and began to spread through the whole country under King Jayavarman VII. It was reintroduced as the national religion in 1989.

At some point during their lives many Cambodian males spend time in a Buddhist monastery, and almost every village has a Buddhist temple - or wat - around which village life centres. Buddhist rituals follow the lunar calendar and there are several significant religious holidays and festivals that are widely observed. Cambodian Buddhism appears an easygoing faith and tolerates the ancestor and territorial spirit worship that is widely practised.