Welcome to Cambodia
Officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 square miles) in area, bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
Cambodia has a population of over 15 million. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, practiced by approximately 95 percent of the population. The country's minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams, and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic, and cultural centre of Cambodia. The kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch chosen by the Royal Throne Council, as head of state. The head of government is Hun Sen, who is currently Prime minister and the longest serving non-royal leader in South East Asia and has ruled Cambodia for over 30 years.
Like the Thais, who have their wai, the Cambodia’s traditionally greet each other with the ‘sompiah’, which involves pressing the hands together in prayer and bowing. In general the higher the hands and the lower the bow the more respect is shown. In recent decades this custom has been partially replaced by the western practice of shaking hands. Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia, the country’s economic statistics are low by international standards, with average salaries less than US$300 a year and about 40% of the population classified as poor. According to official statistics, around 96% of the people who live in Cambodia are ethic Khmers (ethic Cambodians), making the country the most homogeneous in South-East Asia. In reality, there are much higher numbers of Vietnamese and Chinese than such statistics account for.
Transportation and Communication
Highways, Of the current total, only about 50 percent of the roads and highways were covered with asphalt and were in good condition; about 50 percent of the roads were made of crushed stone, gravel, or improved earth; and the remaining approximately 30 percent were unimproved earth or were little more than tracks.
Railways, Two rail lines exist, both originating in Phnom Penh and totaling about 612 kilometers of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge single track. A third line is planned to connect Phnom Penh with Vietnam, the last missing link of the planned rail corridor between Singapore and the city of Kunming, China. A new north-south line is also planned.
Waterways, The nation's extensive inland waterways were important historically in domestic trade. The Mekong and the Tonlé Sap Rivers, their numerous tributaries, and the Tonlé Sap provided avenues of considerable length, including 3,700 kilometers navigable all year by craft drawing 0.6 meters and another 282 kilometers navigable to craft drawing 1.8 meters. In some areas, especially west of the Mekong River and north of the Tonle Sap River, the villages were completely dependent on waterways for communications. Launches, junks, or barges transport passengers, rice, and other food in the absence of roads and railways.
Seaports and harbors, Cambodia has two major ports, Phnom Penh Port and Sihanoukville Port, also known as Kampong Som, 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. It remains an important port for international commerce as well as for domestic communications.
Sihanoukville port reopened in late 1979. It had been built in 1960 with French assistance. In 1980 some 180 Soviet dockworkers, having brought with them forklifts and trucks, were reportedly working at Kampong Som as longshoremen or as instructors of unskilled Cambodian port workers. By 1984 approximately 1,500 Cambodian port workers were handling 2,500 tons of cargo per day. According to official statistics, Sihanoukville had handled only 769,500 tons in the four prior years (1979 to 1983), a level that contrasted sharply with the port's peacetime capacity of about 1 million tons of cargo per year
Airports, The country possesses twenty-six airfields, of which only thirteen were usable in the mid-1980s. Eight airfields had permanent-surface runways. Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh is the largest airport; it also serves as the main base for the renascent Cambodian Air Force.
Cambodia's second largest airport is Angkor International Airport in the major tourist city of Siem Reap. Tourist traffic into Angkor International Airport saw passenger numbers overtake those of Phnom Penh in 2006, the airport now being the country's busiest.
Telecommunications in Cambodia include telephone, radio, television, and Internet services, which are regulated by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. Transport and posts were restored throughout most of the country in the early 1980s during the People's Republic of Kampuchea regime after being disrupted under the Khmer Rouge. Today, with the availability of mobile phones, communications are open to all, though the country's.
Cambodia's biodiversity is largely founded on its seasonal tropical forests, containing some 180 recorded tree species, and riparian ecosystems. There are 212 mammal species, 536 bird species, 240 reptile species, 850 freshwater fish species (Tonle Sap Lake area), and 435 marine fish species recorded by science. Much of this biodiversity is contained around the Tonle Sap Lake and the surrounding biosphere.
The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve is a reserve surrounding the Tonle Sap lake. It encompasses the lake and nine provinces: Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Battambang, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Oddar Meanchey.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature recognizes six distinct terrestrial ecoregions in Cambodia – the Cardamom Mountains rain forests, Central Indochina dry forest, Southeast Indochina dry evergreen forest, Southern Annamite Range rain forest, Tonle Sap freshwater swamp forest, and Tonle Sap-Mekong peat swamp forest.
The economy of Cambodia at present follows an open market system (market economy) and has seen rapid economic progress in the last decade. Cambodia had a GDP of $18.05 billion in 2015. Per capita income, although rapidly increasing, is low compared with most neighboring countries. Cambodia's two largest industries are textiles and tourism, while agricultural activities remain the main source of income for many Cambodians living in rural areas. The service sector is heavily concentrated on trading activities and catering-related services. Recently, Cambodia has reported that oil and natural gas reserves have been found off-shore.
In 1995, with a GDP of $2.92 billion the government transformed the country's economic system from a planned economy to its present market-driven system. Following those changes, growth was estimated at a value of 7% while inflation dropped from 26% in 1994 to only 6% in 1995. Imports increased due to the influx of foreign aid, and exports, particularly from the country's garment industry, also increased.
After four years of improving economic performance, Cambodia's economy slowed in 1997-98 due to the regional economic crisis, civil unrest, and political infighting. Foreign investments declined during this period. Also, in 1998 the main harvest was hit by drought. But in 1999, the first full year of relative peace in 30 years, progress was made on economic reforms and growth resumed at 4%.
Currently, Cambodia's foreign policy focuses on establishing friendly borders with its neighbors (such as Thailand and Vietnam), as well as integrating itself into regional (ASEAN) and global (WTO) trading systems. Some of the obstacles faced by this emerging economy are the need for a better education system and the lack of a skilled workforce; particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which struggles with inadequate basic infrastructure. Nonetheless, Cambodia continues to attract investors because of its low wages, plentiful labor, proximity to Asian raw materials, and favorable tax treatment.
The national currency of Cambodia, the riel, was replaced effectively by US dollars after the rule of the Khmer Rouge decimated the national bank and left the nation with no monetary system. The UN brought the US dollar to Cambodia in 1992 and allowed for the rapidly changing exchange rate to devalue their current currency which had been causing catastrophic inflation in the economic sphere. Cambodia’s economy is highly dollarized by US currency which accounts for around 83% of all transactions (as of late 2015). In fact, many experts believe that the nation should discourage this dependence on the greenback in favor of the national currency. Even though Cambodia’s economy relies on foreign interaction and the dollar creates a desirable destination for outsiders, the institution of US currency makes Cambodia vulnerable to catastrophes within international economics. In order to avoid panic within the capital market, the director general of the central bank of Cambodia proposed that authorities advocate for the riel through educational institutions as well as through marketing campaigns. However, the US dollar did allow Cambodia to attract Foreign Direct Investment into the country’s economy, causing market growth. Also, investors are protected further by the institution of US currency in Cambodia and the lack of risks in foreign exchange.