Where Cambodia on the world map. Map of Cambodia
Map of Cambodia with cities. Where Cambodia is on the world map. The main geographical facts about Cambodia - population, country area, capital, official language, religions, industry and culture.
Cambodia Fact File
Economy Agriculture 80%, services and industry 20%
Official name Kingdom of Cambodia
Form of government Constitutional monarchy with single legislative body (National Assembly)
Capital Phnom Penh
Area 181,040 sq km (69,900 sq miles)
Time zone GMT +7 hours
Projected population 2015 18,585,000
Population density 70.6 per sq km (182.8 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 57.1
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 64
Official language Khmer
Other language French, Vietnamese, Chinese
Literacy rate 35 %
Religions Theravada Buddhism 95%, other 5%
Ethnic groups Khmer 90%, Vietnamese 5%, Chinese 1 %, other 4%
GNP per capita US$ 1,500
Climate Tropical, with wet season May to November
Highest point Phnum Aoral 1,810m (5,938 ft) Map reference Page 203
The Southeast Asian country of Cambodia is famous both culturally and politically. At Angkor Wat and Angkor Thorn it has the world's largest group of religious buildings, a priceless relic of the Hindu Khmer Empire (ad 802 to 1432). It also saw an outbreak of communist fanaticism in the 1970s in which over 2 million people died. Under French rule for almost a century from 1863, Cambodia won independence in 1954. In the late 1950s and during the 1960s there was a short period of relative stability in which the country developed its agricultural resources and rubber plantations and managed to achieve self-sufficiency in food.
Years of internal political struggles, in combination with Cambodia's involvement in the Vietnam War, led to a takeover by the Communist Khmer Rouge under the leadership of Pol Pot in 1975. With the aim of creating a classless agrarian society, money and private property were abolished, the professional classes were murdered (anyone with glasses was considered intellectual, and therefore at risk), and townspeople were brutally moved into the countryside and left to fend for themselves. Half a million refugees fled to Thailand, and between one eighth and one quarter of the entire population died. The regime fell in 1978 and Pol Pot went into hiding, but civil war continued for some years; Pol Pot died in 1998 without ever having to face trial for the atrocities that were committed under his direction. A devastated and desperately poor nation, numerous group, and the Chinese, who are smaller in number but considerably more prosperous. There were riots between the Malays and Chinese in 1969 with heavy loss of life. The many "affirmative action" provisions that are now in place to open opportunities for Malays at the expense of Chinese and Indians are strongly resented by the latter groups. There are also a number of unresolved territorial disputes with neighboring states—Sabah in Borneo, for example, being claimed by the Philippines.
Fold mountains aligned on a north-south axis dominate the Malay Peninsula. There are seven or eight distinct chains of mountains, many of which have exposed granite cores. Climbing to 2,189 m (7,181 ft) at Gunung Tahan, the main range divides the narrow coastal belt to the east from the fertile alluvial plains in the west. To the south lies poorly drained lowland, marked by isolated hills, some of which rise to over 1,060 m (3,500 ft). Several smaller rivers have also contributed to the margin of lowland around the peninsular coasts.
About 2,000 km (1,250 miles) east of the Malay Peninsula, northern Borneo has a mangrove-fringed coastal plain about 65 km (40 miles) wide, rising behind to hill country averaging 300 m (1,000 ft) in height. This ascends through various secondary ranges to the mountainous main interior range. The granite peak of Gunung Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, rises from the northern end of this range in Sabah, towering above Kinabalu National Park. Dense rainforest in Sarawak and Sabah support a great diversity of plants and animals.
With a mixture of private enterprise and public management, the Malaysian economy averaged a healthy rate of nine percent annual growth from 1988 to 1995. Substantial inroads are being made towards the reduction of poverty and real wages are rising. New light industries including electronics are playing an important role in this development: Malaysia is the world's biggest producer of disk drives. Heavy industry has also grown: Malaysia's "national car", the Proton, is now being exported.
The traditional mainstays of the economy, however, remain rice, rubber, palm oil, and tin—Malaysia being the world's foremost producer of palm oil and tin. Rice, however, is becoming a problem. Subsistence farming has regularly failed to ensure self-sufficiency in food, and rice production does not meet demand. The main industries on the peninsula are rubber and palm oil processing and manufacturing, light industry, electronics, tin mining, smelting, logging, and timber processing. The main activities on Sabah and Sarawak are logging, petroleum production, and the processing of agricultural products. Malaysia exports more tropical timber than any other country, and the tribal people of Sarawak have been campaigning against the scale of logging on their land. The Asian economic downturn in 1997 and 1998 saw a depreciation of the Malaysian currency and a marked slowing of the growth of their economy.
stripped of what little economic infrastructure and trained personnel it once had, Cambodia is still in the process of putting itself together again.
The country's heartland consists of a wide basin drained by the Mekong River. In the center of this lies the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), surrounded by a broad plain. When the rain is meager and the Mekong is low—from November to June—the lake drains south toward the sea. But during the rainy season when the Mekong is high—from July to October—the flow reverses, and the lake doubles its area to become the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The wealth of the fabled "gentle kingdom" of Cambodia consists of fish from the lake and rice from the flooded lowlands, a year-round water supply being provided by an extensive system of irrigation channels and reservoirs. Directly south of the lake, the Cardamom (Chuor Phnum Kravan) and Elephant (Chuor Phnum Damrek) Mountains look out over a narrow coastal plain.
Reconstructing the Cambodian economy is bringing almost as many costs as benefits. Tropical rainforest timber, especially teak and rosewood, is Cambodia's most important resource. For twenty years it was sold in huge quantities by all the various factions in order to finance their war efforts. Now indiscriminate tree-felling is a major environmental problem. A 1992 moratorium on logging is largely being ignored, and gems are another resource but strip mining is causing habitat loss, and the destruction of mangrove swamps is threatening the sustainability of fisheries. Starting from a very low base, growth was strong in the early 1990s, but a lack of skills at all levels of administration and management, as well as the rampaging corruption, is slowing progress.
Angkor Wat is the largest of the many temples built by the Khmer people in Cambodia about 1,000 years ago (above). Rice paddies in east Malaysia (left page).
1946 Vietnam: Return of French after Second World War. Outbreak of First Indochina War. 1954 Vietnam: Defeat of French at Dien Bien Phu. Division of Vietnam into North supported by USSR and South supported by USA.
1960 Vietnam: Communists in South initiate guerrilla war as Viet Cong.
1961 Vietnam: USA sends "military advisers" to South Vietnam to fight Viet Cong.
1964 US Congress approves war with Vietnam. US bombs Vietnamese sanctuaries in Laos, plus Ho Chi Minh Trail—north-south supply route.
1965 Vietnam: Arrival of first US combat troops. Start of intense US bombing of North Vietnam which continues until 1968.
1970 Right-wing coup in Cambodia deposes Prince Sihanouk. In exile Sihanouk forms movement backed by communist Khmer Rouge.
1974 Cambodia: Sihanouk and Khmer Rouge capture Phnom Penh. Thousands die as revolutionary programs are enforced (1975).
1975 Vietnam: Fall of Saigon. North Vietnamese and Viet Cong take power in South. Laos: Communist Pathet Lao seize power.
1976 Cambodia: Sihanouk resigns—all power held by Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge.
1978 Vietnam invades Cambodia.
1979 Vietnam captures Phnom Penh. Pol Pot flees, and is held responsible for more than
2 million deaths.
1989 Vietnamese troops leave Cambodia.
1991 Cambodia: Sihanouk again head of state. Flight of Khmer Rouge officials.
1992 Vietnam: Foreign investment permitted; Communist Party monopoly unchanged.
1993 Cambodia: UN-supervized elections. Departure of UN peace mission.
1995 Normalization of US-Vietnam diplomatic relations.
1997 Cambodia: Violent coup restores power to communists under Hun Sen.
1998 Cambodia: Pol Pot dies.
2002 East Timor gains independence.