Population: 14,952,665 (est.)
Capital: Phnom Penh
- The Cambodian riel is the official currency of Cambodia.
- Buddhism is the official religion with around 96% of the population being adherents.
- Since 2004, garments, construction, agriculture, and tourism have driven Cambodia’s growth. GDP climbed more than 6% per year between 2010 and 2012.
- The climate is tropical. With the rainy, monsoon season from May to November and the dry season from December to April. There is little seasonal temperature variation
- Cambodia follows a system of a multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy.
- Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world.
- Most Cambodian young men are Buddhist monks for a short time.
- Cambodia’s birth rate is three times higher than the death rate.
- Cambodians greet each other by pressing their palms together in front of their bodies and bowing. This is called a Sompeah, with the younger or lower ranked person normally initiating the gesture.
Cambodia, officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Its total landmass is 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 sq mi), bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
With a population of over 14.8 million, Cambodia is the 68th most populous country in the world. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by approximately 95% of the Cambodian population. The country’s minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic, and cultural center of Cambodia. The kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch chosen by the Royal Throne Council, as head of state. The head of government is Hun Sen, who is currently the longest serving leader in South East Asia and has ruled Cambodia for over 25 years.
Cambodia’s ancient name is “Kambuja”. In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king marking the beginning of the Khmer Empire which flourished for over 600 years and allowing successive kings to dominate much of Southeast Asia and accumulate immense power and wealth. The Indianized kingdom built monumental temples such as Angkor Wat and facilitated the spread of first Hinduism, then Buddhism to much of Southeast Asia. After the fall of Angkor to Ayutthaya in the 15th century, Cambodia was ruled as a vassal between its neighbors until it was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. Cambodia gained independence in 1953.
The Vietnam War extended into Cambodia, giving rise to the Khmer Rouge, which took Phnom Penh in 1975. Cambodia reemerged several years later within a socialistic sphere of influence as the People’s Republic of Kampuchea until 1993. After years of isolation, the war-ravaged nation was reunited under the monarchy in 1993 and has seen rapid progress in the economic and human resource areas while rebuilding from decades of civil war. Cambodia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with economic growth averaging 6 percent for the last 10 years. Strong textiles, agriculture, construction, garments, and tourism sectors led to foreign investments and international trade. In 2005, oil and natural gas deposits were found beneath Cambodia’s territorial waters, and once commercial extraction begins in 2013, the oil revenues could profoundly affect Cambodia’s economy.