The Kingdom of Cambodia

The Kingdom of Cambodia, formerly known as Kampuchea Preăh Réachéa Nachâk Kâmpŭchea, derived from Sanskrit Kambujadesa), is a country in South East Asia, famous as the successor state of the once powerful Hindu and Buddhist Khmer Empire, which ruled most of the Indochinese Peninsula between the 11th and 14th centuries.

Today, the country borders Thailand to its west and northwest, Laos to its northeast and Vietnam to its east and southeast.

There’s a magic about Cambodia that casts a spell on many who visit this charming confounding kingdom.

Descend into the hell of Tuol Sleng and come face to face with the Khmer Rouge and its killing machine.

Just as Angkor is more than its wat, so too is Cambodia more than its temples. The chaotic charismatic capital of Phnom Penh is a hub of political intrigue, economic vitality and intellectual debate.

All too often overlooked by hit-and-run tourists ticking off Angkor on a regional tour, the revitalised city of Siem Reap is finally earning plaudits in its own right thanks to a gorgeous riverside location, a cultural renaissance, and a dining and drinking scene to rival the best in the region.

Don’t forget the rest of the country: relax in the sleepy seaside town of Kampot and trek the nearby Bokor National Park; take an elephant ride in the jungles of Mondulkiri Province; ogle the Mekong dolphins at Kratie or simply choose a beach near Sihanoukville.

Peace has come to this beautiful blighted land after three decades of war, and the Cambodian people have opened their arms to the world.

Tourism has well and truly taken off a journey remains an adventure as much as a holiday.

Contemporary Cambodia is the successor state to the mighty Khmer empire, which, during the Angkor period, ruled much of what is now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The remains of the empire can be seen at the fabled temples of Angkor, monuments unrivalled in scale and grandeur in Southeast Asia.

The traveller’s first glimpse of Angkor Wat, the ultimate expression of Khmer genius, is simply staggering and is matched by only a few select spots on earth, such as Machu Picchu or Petra.

Siem Reap and Phnom Penh may be the heavyweights, but to some extent they are a bubble, a world away from the Cambodia of the countryside.

Spend some time in the srok (provinces), as Cambodians call them, enjoying a dar leng (walkabout) to discover the true flavour of the country.

The south coast is fringed by tropical islands, with barely a beach hut in sight.
The next Ko Samui or Gili Trawangan awaits discovery and, for now, visitors can play Robinson Crusoe.
Inland from the coast lie the Cardamom Mountains, part of a vast tropical wilderness that provides a home to elusive wildlife and is the gateway to emerging ecotourism adventures.

The mighty Mekong River cuts through the country and is home to some of the region’s last remaining freshwater dolphins; cyclists or dirt bikers can follow the river’s length as it meanders through traditional communities.

It remains one of the poorest countries in Asia and it’s a tough existence for much of the population, as they battle it out against the whims of nature and, sometimes, of their politicians.

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP;, Cambodia remains poorer than Mongolia and El Salvador, just scraping in ahead of Mauritania, while Transparency International (, the anticorruption watchdog, rates the country a lowly 151 out of the 163 countries ranked.

Income remains desperately low for many Khmers, with annual salaries in the hundreds of dollars, not thousands, and public servants such as teachers unable to eke out a living on their meagre wages.

Ancient forests are being razed to make way for plantations, rivers are being sized up for major hydroelectric power plants and the south coast is being explored by leading oil companies.

Cambodia is like the teen starlet who has just been discovered by an adoring public: everyone wants something from her but not everyone wants what is best for her.

The government, long shunned by international big business, is keen to benefit from all these newfound opportunities.

Contracts are being signed off like autographs and there are concerns for the long-term interests of the country.

Tourism has brought many benefits to Cambodia: it provides opportunity and employment for a new generation of Khmers, has helped to spark a rebirth of the traditional arts, and has given the country a renewed sense of pride and optimism as it recovers from the dark decades of war and genocide.

Cambodia is in a great position to benefit from the mistakes of other countries in the region and follow a sustainable road to tourism development.

There are two faces to Cambodia: one shiny and happy, the other dark and complex.

For every illegal eviction of city dwellers or land grab by a general, there will be a new NGO school offering better education, or a new clean-water initiative to improve the lives of the average villager.

Despite having the eighth wonder of the world in its backyard, Cambodia’s greatest treasure is its people. Thanks to an unbreakable spirit and infectious optimism, they have prevailed with their smiles intact; no visitor comes away from Cambodia without a measure of admiration and affection for the inhabitants of this enigmatic kingdom.

Cambodia: beaches as beautiful as Thailand but without the tourist tide; wilds as remote as Laos but even less explored; cuisine as subtle as Vietnam but to be discovered; and temples that leave Burma and Indonesia in the shade.

This is the heart of Southeast Asia, with everything the region has to offer packed into one bite-sized country.

Landmines are still a real danger in Cambodia, with up to six million live mines dotted around the countryside and near the border with Thailand.

The geography of Cambodia is dominated by the Mekong River (colloquial Khmer: Tonle Thom or the great river) and the Tonlé Sap (the fresh water lake), an important source of fish.

Along with Brunei, Thailand and Malaysia all still maintain monarchies.

In 2004, bachelor Norodom Sihamoni was crowned king, succeeding his father Norodom Sihanouk.

Cambodia has an area of approximately 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 sq mi) and a population of over 14 million ethnic Khmer.

A citizen of Cambodia is usually identified as Cambodian or Khmer, though the latter strictly refers to ethnic Khmers.

Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhists of Khmer extraction, but the country also has a substantial number of predominantly Muslim Cham, as well as ethnic Chinese, Vietnamese and small animist hill tribes.

Agriculture has long been the most important sector of the Cambodian economy, with around 59% of the population relying on agriculture for their livelihood (with rice being the principal crop).

Garments, tourism, and construction are also important, yielded, foreign visitors to Angkor Wat numbered more than 4 million.

In 2005, oil and natural gas deposits were found beneath Cambodia's territorial waters, and once commercial extraction begins in 2011, the oil revenues could profoundly affect Cambodia's economy.

Cambodia is the traditional English name, taken from the French Cambodge, while Kâmpŭchea, formerly the name of the country in English, is the direct transliteration, more faithful to the Khmer pronunciation.

The Khmer Kampuchea is derived from the ancient Khmer kingdom of Kambuja (Kambujade?a (Land of Kambuja)).

Kambuja or Kamboja (Devangari is the ancient Sanskrit name of the Kambojas, an early tribe of north India, named after their founder Kambu Svayambhuva, believed to be a variant of Cambyses.

Khmer Land in Khmer writing, a local expression which refers to Cambodia
Preahreachanachâk Kampuchea means Kingdom of Cambodia.

The name used on formal occasions, such as political speeches and news programs, is Prâteh Kampuchea, literally the Country of Cambodia.

The colloquial name most used by Khmer people, is Srok Khmae, literally the Khmer Land.

Khmer is spelled with a final r in the Khmer alphabet, but the word-final r phoneme disappeared from most dialects of Khmer in the 19th century and is not pronounced in the contemporary speech of the standard dialect.

Since independence, the official name of Cambodia has changed several times, following the troubled history of the country.

* Khmer Republic/République Khmère under the Lon Nol led government from 1970 to 1975;
* State of Cambodia/État du Cambodge (a neutral name, while deciding whether to return to monarchy) under the rule of the United Nations transitional authority from 1989 to 1993;
* Kingdom of Cambodia/Royaume du Cambodge reused after the restoration of the monarchy in 1993.

Some slight archaeological evidence shows communities of hunter-gatherers inhabited Cambodia during Holocene: the most ancient Cambodian archeological site is considered to be the cave of Laang Spean, in Battambang Province, which belongs to the so-called Hoabinhian period.

Excavations in its lower layers produced a series of radiocarbon dates as of 6000 BC.

Upper layers in the same site gave evidence of transition to Neolithic, containing the earliest dated earthenware ceramics in Cambodia.

Other prehistoric sites of somewhat uncertain date are Samrong Sen (not far from ancient capital of Oudong), where first investigations started just in 1877, and Phum Snay, in the northern province of Banteay Meanchey.

The most outstanding prehistoric evidence in Cambodia are probably circular earthworks, discovered in the red soils near Memot and in adjacent region of Vietnam as of the end of the 1950's.

The most part of evidence come from Khorat Plateau, Thai country nowadays.

In Cambodia some Iron Age settlement were found beneath Angkorian temples, like Baksei Chamkrong, others were circular earthworks, like Lovea, a few kilometers north-west of Angkor.

The states are assumed by most scholars to have been Khmer.

For more than 2,000 years, Cambodia absorbed influences from India and China passing them on to other Southeast Asian civilizations that are now Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.

The Khmer Empire flourished in the area from the 9th to the 13th century.

Around the 13th century, Theravada Buddhism was introduced to the area through monks from Sri Lanka.

The Khmer Empire declined remained powerful in the region until the 15th century.

The empire's centre of power was Angkor, where a series of capitals was constructed during the empire's zenith.

Angkor could have supported a population of up to one million people.

Angkor, the world's largest pre-industrial civilization, and Angkor Wat, the most famous and best-preserved religious temple at the site, are reminders of Cambodia's past as a major regional power.

After a long series of wars with neighboring kingdoms, Angkor was sacked by the Thai and abandoned in 1432 because of ecological failure and infrastructure breakdown.

The court moved the Capital to Lovek where the kingdom sought to regain its glory through maritime trade.

The attempt was short-lived as continued wars with the Thai and Vietnamese resulted in the loss of more territory and Lovek was conquered in 1594.

During the next three centuries, the Khmer kingdom alternated as a vassal state of the Thai and Vietnamese kings, with short-lived periods of relative independence.

In 1863, King Norodom, who had been installed by Thailand, sought the protection of France from the Thai and Vietnamese, after tensions grew between them.

In 1867, the Thai king signed a treaty with France, renouncing suzerainty over Cambodia in exchange for the control of Battambang and Siem Reap provinces which officially became part of Thailand.

The provinces were ceded back to Cambodia by a border treaty between France and Thailand in 1906.

Cambodia continued as a protectorate of France from 1863 to 1953, administered as part of the colony of French Indochina, though occupied by the Japanese empire from 1941 to 1945.

After King Norodom's death in 1904, France manipulated the choice of king and Sisowath, Norodom's brother, was placed on the throne.

The throne became vacant in 1941 with the death of Monivong, Sisowath's son, and France passed over Monivong's son, Monireth, feeling he was too independently minded.

They were wrong and under the reign of King Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia gained independence from France on November 9, 1953.

Cambodia became a constitutional monarchy under King Norodom Sihanouk.

When French Indochina was given independence, Cambodia lost official control over the Mekong Delta as it was awarded to Vietnam.

The area had been controlled by the Vietnamese since 1698 with King Chey Chettha II granting Vietnamese permission to settle in the area decades before.

In 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favor of his father in order to be elected Prime Minister.

Upon his father's death in 1960, Sihanouk again became head of state, taking the title of Prince.

As the Vietnam War progressed, Sihanouk adopted an official policy of neutrality in the Cold War.

Settling in the next alternative country, Beijing, China, Sihanouk was forced to realign himself with the Chinese communist.

Soon the Khmer Rouge rebels would use him for gaining territory in the regions.

The King urged his followers to help in overthrowing the pro-United States government of Lon Nol, hastening the onset of civil war.

Some two million Cambodians were made refugees by the war and fled to Phnom Penh.

The US Seventh Air Force argued that the bombing prevented the fall of Phnom Penh in 1973 by killing 16,000 of 25,500 Khmer Rouge fighters besieging the city.

Journalist William Shawcross and Cambodia specialists Milton Osborne, David P.
Chandler and Ben Kiernan argued that the bombing drove peasants to join the Khmer Rouge.

Cambodia specialist Craig Etcheson argued that the Khmer Rouge would have won anyway, even without US intervention driving recruitment although the US secretly played a major role behind the leading cause of the Khmer Rouge.

As the war ended, a draft US AID report observed that the country faced famine in 1975, with 75% of its draft animals destroyed, and that rice planting for the next harvest would have to be done by the hard labor of seriously malnourished people.

Slave labor and starvation rations for half the nation's people (probably heaviest among those who supported the republic) will be a cruel necessity for this year, and general deprivation and suffering will stretch over the next two or three years before Cambodia can get back to rice self-sufficiency.'
The Khmer Rouge reached Phnom Penh and took power in 1975.

The regime, led by Pol Pot, changed the official name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea, and was heavily influenced and backed by China.

Estimates as to how many people were killed by the Khmer Rouge regime range from approximately one to three million.

Hundreds of thousands fled across the border into neighboring Thailand.

The Cham Muslims suffered serious purges with as much as half of their population exterminated.

In the late 1960s, an estimated 425,000 ethnic Chinese lived in Cambodia, but by 1984, as a result of Khmer Rouge genocide and emigration, only about 61,400 Chinese remained in the country.

In November 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia to stop Khmer Rouge incursions across the border and the genocide in Cambodia.

Peace efforts began in Paris in 1989, culminating two years later in October 1991 in a comprehensive peace settlement.

The United Nations was given a mandate to enforce a ceasefire, and deal with refugees and disarmament.

The stability established following the conflict was shaken in 1997 by a coup d'état, but has otherwise remained in place.

Cambodia has been aided by a number of more developed nations like Japan, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The politics of Cambodia formally take place, according to the nation's constitution of 1993, in the framework of a constitutional monarchy operated as a parliamentary representative democracy.

The Prime Minister of Cambodia is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system, while the king is the head of state.

The Prime Minister is appointed by the King, on the advice and with the approval of the National Assembly; the Prime Minister and his or her ministerial appointees exercise executive power in government.

Legislative power is vested in both the executive and the two chambers of parliament, the National Assembly of Cambodia and the Senate.

On October 14, 2004, King Norodom Sihamoni was selected by a special nine-member throne council, part of a selection process that was quickly put in place after the surprise abdication of King Norodom Sihanouk a week before.

The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces consists of the Royal Cambodian Army, the Royal Cambodian Navy, and the Royal Cambodian Air Force.

The king is the Supreme Commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and the country's prime minister effectively holds the position of commander-in-chief.

The minister of National Defence is General Tea Banh.

Banh has served as defence minister since 1979.

The Secretaries of State for Defence are Chay Saing Yun and Por Bun Sreu.

In January 2009, General Ke Kim Yan was removed from his post as Commander-in-Chief of the RCAF and was replaced by his deputy, Gen.
Pol Saroeun, the new Commander-in-Chief of the RCAF, who is a long time loyalist of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

There were rumors that Prime Minister Hun Sen had plans to remove Ke Kim Yan from commander of RCAF because of an internal dispute in the CPP.
Days later after the news broke out that Yan was being removed, members of the CPP Party said it was a regular reshuffle of the Kingdom's military leadership and that there are no internal problems within the CPP party.

It is expected that Ke Kim Yan will be promoted to Deputy Prime Minister by Hun Sen and will be in charge of anti-drugs trafficking.

Cambodia has an area of 181,035 square kilometers (69,898 sq mi) and lies entirely within the tropics.

The most distinctive geographical feature is the lacustrine plain, formed by the inundations of the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), measuring about 2,590 square kilometers (1,000 sq mi) during the dry season and expanding to about 24,605 square kilometers (9,500 sq mi) during the rainy season.

This densely populated plain, which is devoted to wet rice cultivation, is the heartland of Cambodia.

The highest elevation of Cambodia is Phnom Aoral, near Pursat in the center of the country, at 1,813 meters (5,948 ft).

Cambodia's climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia is dominated by Monsoons, which are known as tropical wet and dry because of the distinctly marked seasonal differences.

Cambodia's temperatures range from 21° to 35°C (69° to 95°F) and experiences tropical monsoons.

Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October.

The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to March.

The country experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February.

The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C and is generally accompanied with high humidity.

The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can rise up to 40 °C around April.

The best months to visit Cambodia are November to January when temperatures and humidity are lower.

Cambodian areas are divided into 23 provinces and the capital.

Municipalities, Districts (Srok) and Khan are the second-level administrative divisions of Cambodia.

The provinces are divided into 26 municipalities and 159 districts, and the capital is divided into 8 khan.

The districts in turn are further divided into communes (khum) and sangkat.

City and province sizes

No. City or province Area km² Area sq mi
1 Phnom Penh 290 112
2 Kandal Province 3,568 1,378
3 Takeo Province 3,563 1,376
4 Kampong Cham Province 9,799 3,783
5 Kampong Thom Province 13,814 5,334
6 Siem Reap Province 10,299 3,976
7 Preah Vihear Province 13,788 5,324
8 Oddar Meancheay Province 6,158 2,378
9 Banteay Meanchey Province 6,679 2,579
10 Battambang Province 11,072 4,275
11 Pailin Province 803 310
12 Pursat Province 12,692 4,900
13 Kampong Chhnang Province 5,521 2,132
14 Kampong Speu Province 7,017 2,709
15 Koh Kong Province 11,160 4,309
16 Sihanoukville Province 868 335
17 Kampot Province 4,873.2 1,881.6
18 Kep Province 335.8 129.7
19 Prey Veng Province 4,883 1,885
20 Svay Rieng Province 2,966 1,145
21 Kratie Province 11,094 4,283
22 Stung Treng Province 11,092 4,283
23 Ratanakiri Province 10,782 4,163
24 Mondulkiri Province 14,288 5,517
25 Tonlé Sap 3,000 1,158
  TOTAL AREA 181,035 69,898

On 22 December 2008, King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree that changed the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces, as well as adjusting several provincial borders.

In 2005 Cambodia attended the inaugural East Asia Summit.

Cambodia has established diplomatic relations with numerous countries; the government reports twenty embassies in the country including many of its Asian neighbours and those of important players during the Paris peace negotiations, including the US, Australia, Canada, China, the European Union (EU), Japan, and Russia.

As a result of its international relations, various charitable organizations have assisted with both social and civil infrastructure needs.

While the violent ruptures of the 1970s and 80s have passed, several border disputes between Cambodia and its neighbours persist.

Preah Vihear temple is one of the main factors of the current Cambodia-Thai dispute
In January 2003, there were anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh prompted by rumoured comments about Angkor Wat allegedly made by a Thai actress and printed in Reaksmei Angkor, a Cambodian newspaper, and later quoted by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Thai government sent military aircraft to evacuate Thai nationals and closed its border with Cambodia to Thais and Cambodians (at no time was the border ever closed to foreigners or Western tourists) while Thais demonstrated outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok.

The border was re-opened on March 21, after the Cambodian government paid $6 million USD in compensation for the destruction of the Thai embassy and agreed to compensate individual Thai businesses for their losses.

The comments that had sparked the riots turned out to have never been made.

More problems came between Cambodia and Thailand in mid 2008 when Cambodia wanted to list Prasat Preah Vihear as a UNESCO World heritage site, which later resulted in a stand-off in which both countries deployed their soldiers near the border and around the disputed territory between the two countries.

Conflict restarted in April 2009, where 2 Thai soldiers died as a result of a recent clash.

The Indian Elephant is the main type of Asian elephant found in Cambodia.

Cambodia has a wide variety of plants and animals.

The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve is a unique ecological phenomenon surrounding the Tonle Sap.

Other key habitats include the dry forest of Mondolkiri and Ratanakiri provinces and the Cardamom Mountains ecosystem, including Bokor National Park, Botum-Sakor National Park, and the Phnom Aural and Phnom Samkos wildlife sanctuaries.

The country has experienced one of the highest deforestation rates in the world.

Since 1970, Cambodia's primary rainforest cover has fallen from over 70 percent to just 3.
1 percent in 2007.

In total, Cambodia lost 25,000 square kilometres (9,700 sq mi) of forest between 1990 and 2005-3,340 km2 (1,290 sq mi) of which was primary forest.

As of 2007, less than 3,220 km2 (1,243 sq mi) of primary forest remain with the result that the future sustainability of the forest reserves of Cambodia is under severe threat, with illegal loggers looking to generate revenue.

The OCIC Tower in Phnom Penh will be the tallest building in Cambodia when it is completed in 2009
2006 GDP was $7.265 billion (per capita GDP $513), with annual growth of 10.8%.

Estimates for 2007 are for a GDP of $8.251 billion (per capita $571) and annual growth of 8.5%.

Cambodia's per capita income is rapidly increasing, but is low compared with other countries in the region.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) reintroduced more than 750 traditional rice varieties to Cambodia from its rice seed bank in the Philippines.

In 1987, the Australian government funded IRRI to assist Cambodia to improve its rice production.

Few Cambodian farmers grow other crops leaving them vulnerable to crop failure.

In recent years, various international aid organisations have begun crop diversification programs to encourage farmers to grow other crops.

The recovery of Cambodia's economy slowed dramatically in 1997-98, because of the regional economic crisis, civil violence, and political infighting.

In 1999, the first full year of peace in 30 years, progress was made on economic reforms and growth resumed at 5.0%.

Despite severe flooding, GDP grew at 5.0% in 2000, 6.3% in 2001, and 5.2% in 2002.

Tourism was Cambodia's fastest growing industry, with arrivals increasing from 219,000 in 1997 to 1,055,000 in 2004.

The older population often lacks education, particularly in the countryside, which suffers from a lack of basic infrastructure.

The tourism industry is the country's second-greatest source of hard currency after the textile industry.

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 east which has several popular beaches, and the area around Kampot and Kep including the Bokor Hill Station.

90% of its population is of Khmer origin and speaks the Khmer language, the country's official language.

The remainder include Chinese, Vietnamese, Cham and Khmer Loeu.

The Khmer language is a member of the Mon-Khmer subfamily of the Austroasiatic language group.

French is also the language of instruction in some schools and universities that are funded by the government of France.

Cambodian French, a remnant of the country's colonial past, is a dialect found in Cambodia and is sometimes used in government.

Even in the most rural outposts, most young people speak at least some English, as it is often taught by monks at the local pagodas where many children are educated.

The dominant religion, a form of Theravada Buddhism (95%), was suppressed by the Khmer Rouge but has since experienced a revival.

The civil war and its aftermath have had a marked effect on the Cambodian population.

At 0.96 males/female, Cambodia has the most female-biased sex ratio in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

UNICEF has designated Cambodia the third most landmined country in the world, attributing over 60,000 civilian deaths and thousands more maimed or injured since 1970 to the unexploded land mines left behind in rural areas.

The majority of the victims are children herding animals or playing in the fields.

Adults that survive landmines often require amputation of one or more limbs and have to resort to begging for survival.

In 2006, the number of landmine casualties in Cambodia took a sharp decrease of more than 50% compared to 2005, with the number of landmine victims down from 800 in 2005 to less than 400 in 2006.

The reduced casualty rate continued in 2007, with 208 casualties (38 killed and 170 injured).

Cambodia's infant mortality rate has decreased from 115 in 1993 to 89.4 per 1000 live births in 1998.

In the same period, the under-five mortality rate decreased from 181 to 115 per 1000 live births.

Various factors contribute to Cambodian culture including Theravada Buddhism, French Colonialism, Hinduism, Angkor era culture, and modern globalization.

Cambodian culture not only includes the culture of the lowland ethnic majority, the Khmer, but of also some 20 culturally distinct hill tribes colloquially known as the Khmer Loeu, a term coined by Norodom Sihanouk to generate unity between the highlanders and lowlanders.

Rural Cambodians wear a krama scarf which is a unique aspect of Cambodian clothing.

Khmer culture, as developed and spread by the Khmer empire, has distinctive styles of dance, architecture and sculpture, which have been exchanged with neighbouring Laos and Thailand through the history.

Angkor Wat (Angkor means city and Wat temple) is the best preserved example of Khmer architecture from the Angkorian era and hundreds of other temples have been discovered in and around the region.

The Khmer people have a unique method of recording information on Tra leaf.

Tra leaf books record information on legends of the Khmer people, the Ramayana, the origin of Buddhism and other prayer book series.

Bonn Om Teuk (Festival of Boat Racing), the annual boat rowing contest, is the most attended Cambodian national festival.

Held at the end of the rainy season when the Mekong river begins to sink back to its normal levels allowing the Tonle Sap River to reverse flow, approximately 10% of Cambodia's population attends this event each year to play games, give thanks to the moon, watch fireworks, and attend the boat race in a carnival-type atmosphere.

Popular games include cockfighting, soccer, and kicking a sey, which is similar to a footbag.

Based on Theravada Buddhism, the Cambodian New Year is a major holiday that takes place in April.

Recent artistic figures include singers Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea (and later Meng Keo Pichenda), who introduced new musical styles to the country.

Rice, as in other Southeast Asian countries, is the staple grain, while fish from the Mekong and Tonle Sap also form an important part of the diet.

The Cambodian per capita supply of fish and fish products for food and trade in 2000 was 20 kilograms of fish per year or 2 ounces per day per person.

Some of the fish can be made into prahok for longer storage.

The cuisine of Cambodia contains tropical fruits, soups and noodles.

Key ingredients in Cambodian cuisine are kaffir lime, lemon grass, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, curry, tamarind, ginger, oyster sauce, coconut milk and black pepper.

An example of French influence on Cambodian cuisine, is Cambodian red curry with toasted baguette bread.

Cambodian red curry is also eaten with rice and rice vermicelli noodles. The cuisine is relatively unknown to the world compared to that of its neighbours Thailand and Vietnam.

Football was brought to Cambodia by the French and became popular with the locals.

The Cambodia national football team managed fourth in the 1972 Asian Cup but development has slowed since the civil war.

Native sports include traditional boat racing, buffalo racing, Pradal Serey, Khmer traditional wrestling and Bokator.

Cambodia first participated in the Olympics during the 1956 Summer Olympic Games sending Equestrian riders.

Cambodia also hosted the GANEFO Games, the alternative to the Olympics, in the 1960s.

The civil war and neglect severely damaged Cambodia's transport system, but with assistance and equipment from other countries Cambodia has been upgrading the main highways to international standards and most are vastly improved from 2006.

Cambodia has two rail lines, totalling about 612 kilometers (380 mi) of single, one meter gauge track.

The lines run from the capital to Sihanoukville on the southern coast, and from Phnom Penh to Sisophon (although trains often run only as far as Battambang).

Besides the main interprovincial traffic artery connecting the capital Phnom Penh with Sihanoukville, resurfacing a former dirt road with concrete / asphalt and implementation of 5 major river crossings by means of bridges have now permanently connected Phnom Penh with Koh Kong and there is now uninterrupted road access to neighboring Thailand and their vast road system.

The Mekong and the Tonle Sap River, their numerous tributaries, and the Tonle Sap provided avenues of considerable length, including 3,700 kilometers (2,300 mi) navigable all year by craft drawing 0.6 meters (2 ft) and another 282 kilometers (175 mi) navigable to craft drawing 1.8 meters (6 ft).

Cambodia has two major ports, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, and five minor ones.

Phnom Penh, located at the junction of the Bassac, the Mekong, and the Tonle Sap rivers, is the only river port capable of receiving 8,000-ton ships during the wet season and 5,000-ton ships during the dry season.

With increasing economic activity has come an increase in automobile and motorcycle use, though bicycles still predominate.

Cycle rickshaws are an additional option often used by visitors.

Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport is the largest and serves the most international flights in and out of Cambodia.

Web References: -

 Siem Reap, Cambodia Map


This webpage was updated 22nd January 2024