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About Cambodia

Welcome to Kingdom of Cambodia
Official Name: Kingdom of Cambodia

Area: 181,040 sq. km. (69,900 sq. mi.)

Cities: Capital--Phnom Penh (pop. 1.2 million), Battambang, Siem Reap, Kompong Cham, Kompong Speu, Kompong Thom.

Terrain: Central plain drained by the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and Mekong and Bassac Rivers. Forests away from the rivers and the lake, mountains in the southwest (Cardamom Mountains) and north (Dangrek Mountains) along the border with Thailand.

Climate: Tropical monsoon with rainy season June-Oct. and dry season Nov.-May.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Cambodian(s), Khmer.

Population (2005): 14,071,000.
Avg. annual growth rate (2005) 1.96%.

Health: Infant mortality rate--69/1,000. Life expectancy--57 years male; 61 years female.

Ethnic groups: Cambodian 90%; Vietnamese 5%; Chinese 1%; small numbers of hill tribes, Chams, and Laotian.
Ninety percent of Cambodia's population is ethnically Cambodian. Other ethnic groups include Chinese, Vietnamese, hill tribes, Chams, and Laotian. Theravada Buddhism is the religion of 95% of the population; Islam, animism, and Christianity also are practiced. Khmer is the official language and is spoken by more than 95% of the population. Some French is still spoken in urban areas, and English is increasingly popular as a second language.

Religions: Theravada Buddhism 95%; Islam; Christian.

Languages: Khmer (official) spoken by more than 95% of the population; some French still spoken in urban areas; English increasingly popular as a second language.

Education: Years compulsory--none. Enrollment--primary school, 91.9%; grades 7 to 9, 26.1%; grades 10 to 12, 9.3%; and post-secondary, 1.4%. Completion rates--primary school, 46.8%; lower secondary school, 20.57%; upper secondary school, 8.92%; university, 6%. Literacy (total population over 15 that can read and write, 2006)--73.6% (male 84.7%; female 64.1%).

Type: Multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy. Independence: November 9, 1953. Constitution: September 24, 1993; amended March 6, 1999.
Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, and its constitution provides for a multiparty democracy. The Royal Government of Cambodia, formed on the basis of elections internationally recognized as free and fair, was established on September 24, 1993.
The executive branch comprises the king, who is head of state; an appointed prime minister; seven deputy prime ministers, 15 senior ministers, 28 ministers, 135 secretaries of state, and 146 undersecretaries of state. The bicameral legislature consists of a 123-member elected National Assembly and a 61-member Senate. The judiciary includes a Supreme Court and lower courts. Administrative subdivisions are 20 provinces and 4 municipalities.

Principal Government Officials
King and Head of State: His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni
Prime Minister and Head of Government: His Excellency Hun Sen
President of the Senate: His Excellency Chea Sim
President of National Assembly: His Excellency Heng Samrin

Cambodia's real GDP grew at 5.5% in 2002 and 5.2% in 2003, with almost all of the growth coming from the garment sector. Growth in 2004 was strong at 5.5%, with the garment sector providing the biggest input into GDP growth. Inflation steadily increased from 1.3% in 2003 to 3.9% in 2005 to 6.7% in 2005. The national currency, the riel, was relatively stable over 2002 but depreciated slightly against the U.S. dollar in 2003. The National Bank of Cambodia made a series of limited yet effective interventions in 2004 to keep the riel to dollar rate at roughly 4,000 to one. The economy is heavily dollarized; the dollar and riel can be used interchangeably. FDI was recorded at $142 million in 2000 and gradually dropped to $121 million in 2004. In 2005, for the first time in five years, FDI increases to $216 million. In recent years Cambodia is showing a steady growth as the progressive economy.

GDP (2005): $6.2 billion. Per capita GDP (2005): $448. Annual growth rate (2005): 13.4%. Inflation (2005): 6.7%.

Natural resources: Timber, gemstones, some iron ore, manganese and phosphate, hydroelectric potential from the Mekong River.

Agriculture (32.3% of GDP, 2005): About 4,848,000 hectares (12 million acres) are unforested land; all are arable with irrigation, but 2.5 million hectares are cultivated. Products--rice, rubber, corn, meat, vegetables, dairy products, sugar, flour.

Industry (25.3% of GDP, 2005): Types--garment and shoe manufacturing, rice milling, tobacco, fisheries and fishing, wood and wood products, textiles, cement, some rubber production, paper and food processing.

Services (37% of GDP, 2004 est.): Tourism, telecommunications, transportation, and construction

Central government budget (2005): Revenues--$642 million; expenditures--$812 million; foreign financing--$273 million.

Trade: Exports ($2.9 billion, 2005)--garments, shoes, cigarettes, natural rubber, rice, pepper, wood, fish. Major partners--United States, Germany, U.K., Singapore, Japan, Vietnam. Imports ($3.8 billion, 2005)--fuels, cigarettes, vehicles, consumer goods, machinery. Major partners--Thailand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, United States.

Economic aid received: Pledges of $601 million in grants and concessional loans for calendar year 2006. Major donors--Asian Development Bank (ADB), UN Development Program (UNDP), World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Australia, Canada, Denmark, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Thailand, U.K., U.S. According to the Cambodian Government, 95.2% of the $504 million pledged by donors for 2005 was actually disbursed.

Principal foreign commercial investors: Malaysia, Taiwan, U.S., China, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand.

Exchange rate (2007): 4,000 riel per U.S. $1.

Cambodia is located on mainland Southeast Asia between Thailand to the west and north and Vietnam to the east. It shares a land border with Laos in the northeast. Cambodia has a sea coast on the Gulf of Thailand. The Dangrek Mountain range in the north and Cardamom Mountains in the southwest form natural boundaries. Principal physical features include the Tonle Sap Lake and the Mekong and Bassac Rivers. Cambodia remains one of the most heavily forested countries in the region, although deforestation continues at an alarming rate.

World Heritage Site: Angkor Wat (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Over a period of 300 years, between 900 and 1200 AD, the Khmer Kingdom of Angkor produced some of the world's most magnificent architectural masterpieces on the northern shore of the Tonle Sap, near the present town of Siem Reap. The Angkor area stretches 15 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south. Some 72 major temples or other buildings dot the area. Suryavarman II built the principal temple, Angkor Wat, between 1112 and 1150. With walls nearly one-half mile on each side, Angkor Wat portrays the Hindu cosmology with the central towers representing Mount Meru, home of the gods; the outer walls, the mountains enclosing the world; and the moat, the oceans beyond. Angkor Thom, the capital city built after the Cham sack of 1177, is surrounded by a 300-foot wide moat. Construction of Angkor Thom coincided with a change from Hinduism to Buddhism. Temples were altered to display images of the Buddha, and Angkor Wat became a major Buddhist shrine.

During the 15th century, nearly all of Angkor was abandoned after Siamese attacks. The exception was Angkor Wat, which remained a shrine for Buddhist pilgrims. The great city and temples remained largely cloaked by the forest until the late 19th century when French archaeologists began a long restoration process. France established the Angkor Conservancy in 1908 to direct restoration of the Angkor complex. For the next 64 years, the conservancy worked to clear away the forest, repair foundations, and install drains to protect the buildings from their most insidious enemy: water. After 1953, the conservancy became a joint project of the French and Cambodian Governments. Some temples were carefully taken apart stone by stone and reassembled on concrete foundations. Tourism is now the second-largest foreign currency earner in Cambodia's economy, and Angkor Wat has helped attract international tourism to the country.

Cambodia has established diplomatic relations with most countries. The country is a member of most major international organizations, including the UN and its specialized agencies, and became a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1998.

Cambodia is a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). On October 13, 2004, Cambodia became the 148th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).


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