Kingdom of Cambodia
Capital: Phnom Penh
Population 14.5 million (UN, 2012)
Currency : Riel (The US dollar banknotes are used as currency, the change is given in riels)
Area 181,035 sq km (69,898 sq miles)
Major language Khmer
Major religion Buddhism
Life expectancy 62 years (men), 65 years (women)
Angkor Wat is one of the main temples in the ancient capital Angkor
Heir to the ancient Khmer Empire, modern-day Cambodia is benefiting from two decades of relative stability, having endured civil war and the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.
Painful memories still endure of the radical communist Khmer Rouge’s time in power under the leadership of Pol Pot between 1975 and 1978, when two million people died in the regime’s brutal pursuit of a rural utopia.
The economy is dominated by the garment industry, but tourism is growing fast in the Angkor temples area and employs thousands locals . Cambodia hopes to tap into offshore oil and gas reserves and draw in overseas investment to replace aid.
Corruption is deep-rooted and Cambodia is still one of the world’s poorest countries, with most of the workforce still employed in subsistence farming.
Head of state: King Norodom Sihamoni
King Sihamoni – a trained ballet dancer – was sworn in as monarch on 29 October 2004, after his father, the widely venerated and long-serving King Sihanouk, abdicated because of poor health.
Cambodia’s kings once enjoyed a semi-divine status; today, the monarch’s role is mainly ceremonial.
Prime minister: Hun Sen is one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers, has been in power in various coalitions since 1985.
A former communist and – briefly – a member of the Khmer Rouge – he was last reappointed by parliament in September 2013 for a further five-year term, in the face of mass demonstrations and opposition allegations of fraud in the July elections.
Many Cambodian newspapers and private broadcasters depend on support from political parties. Prime Minister Hun Sen and his allies control several outlets.
Imprisonment can be imposed for “spreading false information or insulting public officials”, Freedom House reports. Mam Sonando, the owner of Beehive Radio, one of the few outlets critical of the government, was jailed for 20 years in 2012 on charges he helped foment a secessionist rebellion.
The royal palace in Phnom Penh
Key events in Cambodia’s history:
802-1431 – Khmer Empire centred on Angkor. After the empire’s decline, its heartland shifts south to Phnom Penh and becomes modern-day Cambodia.
1863-1953 – French colonial rule.
1941 – Sihanouk becomes king.
1941-45 – Japanese occupation.
1970 – Prime Minister Lon Nol mounts a successful coup against Sihanouk, who organises a guerrilla movement from exile.
1975-79 – Lon Nol is overthrown by the communist Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot, who institute violent totalitarian rule until ousted by a Vietnamese invasion.
1981 – The pro-Vietnamese Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party wins elections, but its rule is not internationally recognised and later faces mounting guerrilla resistance.
1991 – A peace agreement is signed in Paris, ushering in a power-sharing administration. Sihanouk becomes head of state.
1997 – Hun Sen mounts a coup against the prime minister, Prince Ranariddh, effectively taking sole power.
Rizières en période de mousson
Rizières en période de mousson
International borders are shared with Thailand , Lao on the West and the North, and Viet Nam on the East and the Southeast. The country is bounded on the Southeast by the Gulf of Thailand. The country has a coastline of 435 km and extensive mangrove stands, some of which are relatively undisturbed.
The dominant features of the Cambodian landscape are the large, almost generally located, Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and the Bassac River Systems and the Mekong River, which crosses the country from North to South. Surrounding the Central Plains which covered three quarters of the country’s area are the more densely forested and sparsely populated highlands, comprising: the Elephant Mountains and Cardamom Mountain (up to 1770 m) , the Dangrek Mountains , Rattanakiri Plateau and Chhlong highlands.
The Mekong River, Cambodia’s largest river, dominates the hydrology of the country. The monsoon lasts from May to October. The Tonlé Sap lake is the largest natural lake in Southeast Asia, increasing the size of the lake from about 2,600 km2 to 10,00 km2 and exceptionally to 13,000 km2 and raising the water level by and average 7m at the height of the flooding. This specificity of the Tonle Sap makes it the only “river with return ” in the world.