Cambodia - Country Overview
As one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in Southeast Asia, Cambodia’s rich heritage, culture and natural resources offer a full range of culture and eco-tourism sites that are both dynamic and sustainable. Highlights include Phnom Penh, the Angkor Wat and the Mekong River Dolphins, just to name a few.
The Kingdom’s capital is a dynamic city where visitors are in the mood for shopping, dining, sight-seeing and more. As Cambodia hub for commerce, politics and tourism, Phnom Penh is also home to many important institutions and monuments such as Wat Phnom, the Royal Palace and the National Museum. The magnificent Angkor Wat, Heritage of humanity and World wonder, is probably the most exotic tourist destination in the world and the renowned yet very rare Mekong River dolphin can also be found in Cambodia. During your stay here, you can also relax on Cambodia’s pristine beaches, explore the coral reefs around many of our beautiful islands and trek through lush mangrove forests.
Through the energetic efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia under the brilliant and wise leadership of Samdech akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, prime minister of the Cambodia, Preah vihear Temple has been listed and declared as a new World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This 9th-12th century sacred temple, perches on Dangrek Mountain, was built during the reigns of king Yasovarman I and Soryavarman I and II and has become a new cultural and eco-tourism destination in Cambodia. Moreover, the recent election of Cambodia as a member of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO is a distinct honor to the people of Cambodia and that helps to promote the country’s national prestige In the international arena.
Tourism plays an increasingly important role in Cambodia’s national, economical and social development. It is the country‘s top priority to build and develop the necessary tourism infrastructure to help drive this industry forward. This 2010 Tourism Handbook is especially designed to make your visit more enjoyable.
Give Cambodia’s great potential, safe, clean and friendly environment, accentuated by the tourism promotion campaign “Cambodia-Kingdom of Wonder “together with the competitive movement slogan “Clean City, Clean Resort and Good Service” which have been made know nationwide and internationally, I am confident that Cambodia will prove a unique and satisfying destination for cross – cultural explorers as well as for eco-tourists and leisure travelers from around the world.
Cambodia, which is physically located in Southeast Asia, occupies a total area of 181,035 square kilometers. It is commonly bordered to the north by Thailand and Laos, to the east by Vietnam, to the south by Vietnam and Gulf of Thailand, and to the west by the Gulf of Thailand and Thailand.
Geographically speaking, Cambodia is divided into six major regions: the western and northwestern mountains rich in tropical forest, wildlife and fruit trees, the northeastern plateau abounding with tropical forest, wildlife, waterfalls, diamonds and magic, the central plain known as a large area of flat land for cultivating mainly rice, corns and beans, for flavoring fish and mangrove, there’s the western and southwestern coastal plain popular with tourists who sunbath on the sandy beaches, and who consume seafood, the western and northeastern valleys suitable for the development of hydro-electric power, and the peninsula suitable for tin mining, rubber cultivation and fishing.
Protected Areas, In 1993, 23 protected areas covering 3.3 million ha, equivalent to more than 18% of the country’s territory had been designated and categorized as National Parks (742,250 ha), Wildlife Sanctuaries (2,030,000 ha),Protected Landscapes (9,700 ha) and Multiple Use Management Areas (403,950 ha). Of all the PAs, three cover mixed terrestrial and coastal habitats, one includes terrestrial, coastal and near-shore marine waters and islands, one covers inland wetlands (316,250 ha) and seven are trans boundary PAs. Marine habitats remain poorly represented in the current PA system. In addition, ten Forest PAs covering 1.49 million ha have been established.
The Khmer people have lived in the Indochina area for at least 2,000 years. The Khmer Kingdom, with its capital at Angkor was the most powerful mainland Southeast Asian state for most of the period from 802 to 1432 AD. The Kingdom enjoyed its heyday around 1200, when it included much of the present-day Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. From 1432 the Kingdom declined, losing much territory to increasingly powerful neighbours.
After regaining independence in 1953, the country has had several names:
- The kingdom of Cambodia
(under the Reachia Niyum Regime from 1953 to1970)
- The Khmer Republic
(under the Lon Nol Regime from 1970 t0 1975)
- Democratic Kampuchea
(under the Pol Pot Genocidal Regime from 1975 to 1979)
- The People’s Republic of Kampuchea (1979-1989)
- The State of Cambodia (1989-1993)
- The kingdom of Cambodia (1993 until now)
Total population is 14 million. Ninety percent of residents are Khmer, the rest are Cham (Khmer Muslim), Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Phnorng, Kuoy, Stieng, Tamil, etc. Chinese influence is strong, particularly in the business sector. Population density is 78/Km2.
Cambodia is predominantly Buddhist. Like most other religions, there are many different types of Buddhism, and about 95% of Cambodians belong to the Theravada or Hinayana sect of Buddhists. This is strongly overlaid with ancestor worship and animist practices.
Over centuries Buddhist temples (wats) developed an important role in the preservation of culture and the provision of education, especially in rural areas.
Since the 1980s, with the encouragement of the government, Buddhism has been undergoing a process of remarkable revival and is now recognised in the Cambodian constitution as the state religion.
The Islamic faith is practised by the Cham-Muslim communities of the south east. Like the Buddhists, Cambodia’s Muslim community also experienced persecution at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and many were killed.
Christianity accounts for a small but growing community in Phnom Penh and other urban areas. Animism continues to be the dominant faith among the hill tribes
Cambodia's climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia, is dominated by Monsoons, which are known to be tropical wet and dry with seasonal variation.
Cambodia's temperature varies between 21’’C and 35 °C (69.8” and 95 °F) and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoon blows inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean during 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 in January and February.
Cambodia has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C (71.6 °F) and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can rise up to 40 °C (104 °F) around April. The best months to visit Cambodia are November to January when temperature and humidity are low. Flooding is almost common whenever there is a heavy rain. Disastrous flooding occurred in 2001 and again in 2002 because of very heavy rainfall. Flooding is almost an annual feature in Cambodia.
Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. The Cambodia language is derived from the Mon-Khmer (Austro-Asiatic) language family. It is renowned for being one of the largest set of alphabets, it consists basically of 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels.
Tourist may wish to learn a few spoken phrases before or when visiting Cambodia. However English is widely spoken and understood. French is the second language after English, most elderly Cambodias speak French. The Chinese language is also widely spoken.