Coat of Arms
Prime Minister Hun Sen
»Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
»181,035 km2 (88th)
» Per capita
» Per capita -$2,776
Cambodia and once known as the Khmer Empire, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Its total landmass is 181,035 square kilometers (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 15 million, Cambodia is the 69th most populous country in the world. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, practiced by approximately 95 percent of the 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 non-royal leader in South East Asia and has ruled Cambodia for over 25 years.
Cambodia’s ancient name is “Kambuja” (Sanskrit: कंबुज). In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king and marked the beginning of the Khmer Empire which flourished for over 600 years, allowing successive kings to dominate much of Southeast Asia and accumulate immense power and wealth. The Indianized kingdom built monumental temples including Angkor Wat, now a World Heritage Site, 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 then ruled as a vassal between its neighbors.
In 2011 Cambodia’s per capita income in PPP is $2,470 and $1,040 in nominal per capita. Cambodia’s per capita income is rapidly increasing but is low compared to other countries in the region. Most rural households depend on agriculture and its related sub-sectors. Rice, fish, timber, garments and rubber are Cambodia’s major exports. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) reintroduced more than 750 traditional rice varieties to Cambodia from its rice seed bank in the Philippines. These varieties had been collected in the 1960s.
Based on the Economist, IMF: Annual average GDP growth for the period 2001–2010 was 7.7% making it one of the world’s top ten countries with the highest annual average GDP growth. Tourism was Cambodia’s fastest growing industry, with arrivals increasing from 219,000 in 1997 to over 2 million in 2007. In 2004, inflation was at 1.7% and exports at $1.6 billion US$.
China is Cambodia’s biggest source of foreign direct investment. China planned to spend $8 billion in 360 projects in the first seven months of 2011. It is also the largest source of foreign aid, providing about $600 million in 2007 and $260 million in 2008.
Oil and natural gas deposits found beneath Cambodia’s territorial waters in 2005 yield great potential but remain mostly untapped, due in part to territorial disputes with Thailand.
The National Bank of Cambodia is the central bank of the kingdom and provides regulatory oversight to the country’s banking sector and is responsible in part for increasing the foreign direct investment in the country. Between 2010 and 2012 the number of regulated banks and micro-finance institutions increased from 31 covered entities to over 70 individual institutions underlining the growth within the Cambodian banking and finance sector.
Cambodia is ranked 120 with an Economic Complexity Index (ECI) of -0.936727
Top 5 Products exported by Cambodia
- Postage Stamps (14%),
- Knit Sweaters (12%),
- Knit Women’s Suits (7.7%),
- Non-Knit Women’s Suits (5.5%),
- Non-Knit Men’s Suits (5.3%)
Top 5 Export destinations of Cambodia
Top 5 Products imported by Cambodia
Refined Petroleum (10%),
Light Rubberized Knitted Fabric (10%),
Other Synthetic Fabrics (3.6%),
Raw Sugar (2.1%),
Top 5 Import origins of Cambodia
South Korea (5.5%),
Hong Kong (5.4%)
The tourism industry is the country’s second-greatest source of hard currency after the textile industry. Between January and December 2007, visitor arrivals were 2.0 million, an increase of 18.5% over the same period in 2006. Most visitors (51%) arrived through Siem Reap with the remainder (49%) through Phnom Penh and other destinations.
Other tourist destinations include Sihanoukville in the south west which has several popular beaches and the sleepy riverside town of Battambang in the east, both of which are a popular stop for backpackers who make up a large of portion of visitors to Cambodia. The area around Kampot and Kep including the Bokor Hill Station are also of interest to visitors. Tourism has increased steadily each year in the relatively stable period since the 1993 UNTAC elections; in 1993 there were 118,183 international tourists, and in 2009 there were 2,161,577 international tourists.
Most of the tourists were Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Americans, South Koreans and French, said the report, adding that the industry earned some 1.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2007, accounting for almost ten percent of the kingdom’s gross national products. Chinese-language newspaper Jianhua Daily quoted industry officials as saying that Cambodia will have three million foreign tourist arrivals in 2010 and five million in 2015. Tourism has been one of Cambodia’s triple pillar industries. The Angkor Wat historical park in Siem Reap province, the beaches in Sihanoukville and the capital city Phnom Penh are the main attractions for foreign tourists.
Cambodia’s tourist souvenir industry employs a lot of people around the main places of interest. Obviously, the quantity of souvenirs that are produced is not sufficient to face the increasing number of tourists and a majority of products sold to the tourists on the markets are imported from China, Thailand and Vietnam. Some of the locally produced souvenirs include:
- There are many temples around Cambodia for you to see. Both men and women should make sure to have their shoulders and knees covered – and head uncovered – when entering the temples out of respect.
- Explore the Cardamom mountains for jungle trekking and waterfalls. Walk in S.E. Asia’s largest mangrove forest. Hang out on white sand beaches, all in Koh Kong
- Laze on the beach in Sihanoukville.
- Enjoy the river and peace in Kampot
- Visit the temples of Angkor near Siem Reap
- Get far off the beaten track with a motorcycle tour which will take you into some of the most remote parts of the country.
- Visit the Royal Palace, National Museum and Toul Sleng Museum In Phnom Penh
- Enjoy one of the last natural Island, Rabbit Island of Kep
- Koh Rong, Sihanoukville (1.5hrs by boat from Sihanoukville). The islands of Cambodia are what Thailand was 15 years ago. Currently, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloeum are the only islands accessible to the public with any development. Koh Rong, the bigger of the two, has a growing backpacker presence but, to date (December 2014), still has 78 sq. kms of jungle, 30 untouched beaches, 4 fishing villages, and fewer than 10 bungalow guesthouses. Koh Rong Samloeum is just as beautiful as its bigger cousin, but quieter and less developed and caters more to mid-range tourists. $30/day.