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Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863. Cambodia became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In April 1975, after a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off almost 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the remaining leaders are awaiting trial by a UN-sponsored tribunal for crimes against humanity. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed.


Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos

Geographic coordinates:

13 00 N, 105 00 E


total: 181,040 sq km
land: 176,520 sq km
water: 4,520 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 2,572 km
border countries: Laos 541 km, Thailand 803 km, Vietnam 1,228 km


443 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm


tropical; rainy, monsoon season (May to November); dry season (December to April); little seasonal temperature variation


mostly low, flat plains; mountains in southwest and north

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Phnum Aoral 1,810 m

Natural resources:

oil and gas, timber, gemstones, some iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential

Land use:

arable land: 20.44%
permanent crops: 0.59%
other: 78.97% (2005)

Irrigated land:

2,700 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

monsoonal rains (June to November); flooding; occasional droughts

Environment - current issues:

illegal logging activities throughout the country and strip mining for gems in the western region along the border with Thailand have resulted in habitat loss and declining biodiversity (in particular, destruction of mangrove swamps threatens natural fisheries); soil erosion; in rural areas, most of the population does not have access to potable water; declining fish stocks because of illegal fishing and overfishing

Geography - note:

a land of paddies and forests dominated by the Mekong River and Tonle Sap


note: estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 35.6% (male 2,497,595/female 2,447,754)
15-64 years: 61% (male 4,094,946/female 4,370,159)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 180,432/female 290,541) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 20.6 years
male: 19.9 years
female: 21.4 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.78% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

26.9 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

9.06 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 68.78 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 77.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 59.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 59.29 years
male: 57.35 years
female: 61.32 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.37 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

2.6% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

170,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

15,000 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis are high risks in some locations
note: at present, H5N1 avian influenza poses a minimal risk; during outbreaks among birds, rare cases could occur among US citizens who have close contact with infected birds or poultry (2005)


noun: Cambodian(s)
adjective: Cambodian

Ethnic groups:

Khmer 90%, Vietnamese 5%, Chinese 1%, other 4%


Theravada Buddhist 95%, other 5%


Khmer (official) 95%, French, English


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73.6%
male: 84.7%
female: 64.1% (2004 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Kingdom of Cambodia
conventional short form: Cambodia
local long form: Preahreacheanachakr Kampuchea (phonetic pronunciation)
local short form: Kampuchea
former: Kingdom of Cambodia, Khmer Republic, Democratic Kampuchea, People's Republic of Kampuchea, State of Cambodia

Government type:

multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy established in September 1993


Phnom Penh

Administrative divisions:

20 provinces (khaitt, singular and plural) and 4 municipalities* (krong, singular and plural)
provinces: Banteay Mean Cheay, Batdambang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Spoe, Kampong Thum, Kampot, Kandal, Kaoh Kong, Krachen, Mondol Kiri, Otdar Mean Cheay, Pouthisat, Preah Vihear, Prey Veng, Rotanah Kiri, Siem Reab, Stoeng Treng, Svay Rieng, Takev
municipalities: Keb, Pailin, Phnum Penh, Preah Seihanu


9 November 1953 (from France)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 9 November (1953)


promulgated 21 September 1993

Legal system:

primarily a civil law mixture of French-influenced codes from the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) period, royal decrees, and acts of the legislature, with influences of customary law and remnants of communist legal theory; increasing influence of common law in recent years; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

bicameral, consists of the National Assembly (123 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the Senate (61 seats; 2 members appointed by the monarch, 2 elected by the National Assembly, and 57 elected by parliamentarians and commune councils; members serve five-year terms)
elections: National Assembly - last held 27 July 2003 (next to be held in July 2008); Senate - last held 22 January 2006 (next to be held in January 2011)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - CPP 47%, SRP 22%, FUNCINPEC 21%, other 10%; seats by party - CPP 73, FUNCINPEC 26, SRP 24; Senate - percent of vote by party - CPP 69%, FUNCINPEC 21%, SRP 10%; seats by party - CPP 45, FUNCINPEC 10, SRP 2 (January 2006)

Judicial branch:

Supreme Council of the Magistracy (provided for in the constitution and formed in December 1997); Supreme Court (and lower courts) exercises judicial authority

Economy - overview:

In 1999, the first full year of peace in 30 years, the government made progress on economic reforms. The US and Cambodia signed a Bilateral Textile Agreement, which gave Cambodia a guaranteed quota of US textile imports and established a bonus for improving working conditions and enforcing Cambodian labor laws and international labor standards in the industry. From 2001 to 2004, the economy grew at an average rate of 6.4%, driven largely by an expansion in the garment sector and tourism. With the January 2005 expiration of a WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, Cambodia-based textile producers were forced to compete directly with lower-priced producing countries such as China and India. Although initial 2005 GDP growth estimates were less than 3%, better-than-expected garment sector performance led the IMF to forecast 6% growth in 2005. Faced with the possibility that its vibrant garment industry, with more than 200,000 jobs, could be in serious danger, the Cambodian government has committed itself to a policy of continued support for high labor standards in an attempt to maintain favor with buyers. The tourism industry continues to grow rapidly, with foreign visitors surpassing 1 million for the year by September 2005. In 2005, exploitable oil and natural gas deposits were found beneath Cambodia's territorial waters, representing a new revenue stream for the government once commercial extraction begins in the coming years. The long-term development of the economy remains a daunting challenge. The Cambodian government continues to work with bilateral and multilateral donors, including the World Bank and IMF, to address the country's many pressing needs. In December 2004, official donors pledged $504 million in aid for 2005 on the condition that the Cambodian government implement steps to reduce corruption. The major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia's demographic imbalance. More than 50% of the population is 20 years or younger. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure. Fully 75% of the population remains engaged in subsistence farming.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$29.89 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$4.791 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

6% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$2,200 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 35%
industry: 30%
services: 35% (2004)

Labour force:

7 million (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

2.5% (2000 est.)

Population below poverty line:

40% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 33.8% (1997)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

40 (2004 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4.3% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

22.8% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $559.4 million
expenditures: $772 million; including capital expenditures of $291 million (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

rice, rubber, corn, vegetables, cashews, tapioca


tourism, garments, rice milling, fishing, wood and wood products, rubber, cement, gem mining, textiles

Industrial production growth rate:

22% (2002 est.)

Electricity - production:

123.7 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

115 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

3,700 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$269 million (2005 est.)


$2.663 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

clothing, timber, rubber, rice, fish, tobacco, footwear

Exports - partners:

US 55.9%, Germany 11.7%, UK 6.9%, Vietnam 4.4%, Canada 4.2% (2004)


$3.538 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

petroleum products, cigarettes, gold, construction materials, machinery, motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products

Imports - partners:

Thailand 22.5%, Hong Kong 14.1%, China 13.6%, Vietnam 10.9%, Singapore 10.8%, Taiwan 8.4% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.1 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$800 million (2003 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$504 million pledged in grants and concessional loans for 2005 by international donors

Currency (code):

riel (KHR)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

36,400 (2003)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

498,400 (2003)

Telephone system:

general assessment: adequate landline and/or cellular service in Phnom Penh and other provincial cities; mobile phone coverage is rapidly expanding in rural areas
domestic: NA
international: country code - 855; adequate but expensive landline and cellular service available to all countries from Phnom Penh and major provincial cities; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 2, FM 17 (2003)

Television broadcast stations:

11 (including two TV relay stations with French and Vietnamese broadcasts); 12 regional low power TV stations (2006)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1,315 (2005)

Internet users:

41,000 (2005)


20 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 14
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 1 (2005)


2 (2005)


total: 602 km
narrow gauge: 602 km 1.000-m gauge (2004)


total: 12,323 km
paved: 1,996 km
unpaved: 10,327 km (2000)


2,400 km (mainly on Mekong River) (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 521 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,715,914 GRT/2,421,241 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 38, cargo 423, chemical tanker 10, container 12, livestock carrier 3, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 9, refrigerated cargo 16, roll on/roll off 5, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 284 (Bulgaria 1, Canada 6, China 75, Cyprus 15, Egypt 6, Estonia 2, France 1, Gabon 1, Germany 1, Greece 7, Hong Kong 10, Indonesia 1, Isle of Man 1, Israel 1, Japan 2, South Korea 18, Latvia 1, Lebanon 1, Nigeria 2, Norway 1, Philippines 1, Russia 73, Singapore 4, Syria 11, Taiwan 2, Turkey 17, Ukraine 12, UAE 2, US 6, Yemen 2, unknown 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Phnom Penh

Military branches:

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces: Royal Cambodian Army, Royal Khmer Navy, Royal Cambodian Air Force (2005)

Disputes - international:

Southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; Cambodia and Thailand dispute sections of boundary with missing boundary markers and Thai encroachments into Cambodian territory; maritime boundary with Vietnam is hampered by unresolved dispute over offshore islands; Cambodia accuses Thailand of obstructing access to Preah Vihear temple ruins awarded to Cambodia by ICJ decision in 1962; in 2004, Cambodian-Laotian and Laotian-Vietnamese boundary commissions re-erected missing markers completing most of their demarcations

Illicit drugs:

narcotics-related corruption reportedly involving some in the government, military, and police; possible small-scale heroin and methamphetamine production; vulnerable to money laundering due to its cash-based economy and porous borders