With a population of over 15 million, Cambodia is the 70th most populous country in the world. The country faces numerous challenges and sociopolitical issues, including widespread poverty, pervasive corruption, lack of political freedoms, low human development, and a high rate of hunger. read more
Cambodia's per capita income is rapidly increasing but is low compared to other countries in the region. Most rural households depend on agriculture and its related sub-sectors. Rice, fish, timber, garments and rubber are Cambodia's major exports. Agriculture is the traditional mainstay of the Cambodian economy with rice the principal commodity.
The tourism industry is the country's second-greatest source of hard currency after the textile industry. The Angkor Wat historical park in Siem Reap province, the beaches in Sihanoukville and the capital city Phnom Penh are the main attractions for foreign tourists.
Water, rice and freshwater fish exert the most profound influences on Khmer cuisine. Khmer cuisine shares many commonalities with the food of neighbouring Thailand — although, less chilli, sugar and coconut cream are used for flavour — and of neighbouring Vietnam, with which it shares and adopts many common dishes, as well as a colonial history, as both formed part of the French colonial empire in Southeast Asia. It has drawn upon influences from the cuisines of China and France, powerful players in Cambodian history.
Khmer culture is very hierarchical. The greater a person's age, the greater the level of respect that must be granted to them. The nuclear family, consisting of a husband and a wife and their unmarried children, is the most important kin group. Within this unit are the strongest emotional ties, the assurance of aid in the event of trouble, economic cooperation in labor, sharing of produce and income, and contribution as a unit to ceremonial obligations.
Cambodia has increasingly become involved in sports over the last 30 years. Football is popular as are martial arts, includingbokator, pradal serey (Khmer kick boxing), and Khmer traditional wrestling. Soccer was brought to Cambodia by the French and became popular with the locals.
Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Cambodia, practised by more than 95 percent of the population with an estimated 4,392 monastery temples throughout the country. Key concepts in Cambodian Buddhism include reincarnation, and religious activities are focused on acquiring bonn (Pali punna, merit), and erasingkamm (Pali kamma, karma), which, for Khmer, means the negative results accrued from past actions.
The constitution of Cambodia promulgates free compulsory education for nine years, guaranteeing the universal right to basic quality education. However the education system in Cambodia continues to face many challenges. Due to lack of funding for schools often children have to contribute for everything including the teachers chalk and the electricity for the fan in the extremely hot classroom. This often makes sending children to school an impossible dream for poor families that bearly have enough to feed themselves.
In 2012, Cambodia had a murder rate of 6.5 per 100,000 population. Prostitution is against the law in Cambodia, yet is still prevalent. In 1993 it was estimated that there were one hundred thousand sex workers in Cambodia.
Cambodian life expectancy was 72 years in 2014, a major improvement since 1999. Health care is offered by both public and private practitioners and research has found that trust in health providers is a key factor in improving the uptake of health care services in rural Cambodia. Cambodia's infant mortality rate has decreased to 54 per 1,000 live births with the under-five mortality rate decreased to 115 per 1,000 live births in 2009.
Cambodia was once one of the most landmined countries in the world. According to some estimates, unexploded land mineshave been responsible for over 60,000 civilian deaths and thousands more maimed or injured since 1970. Adults that survive landmines often require amputation of one or more limbs and have to resort to begging for survival. Cambodia is expected to be free of land mines by 2020 but the social and economic legacy, including orphans and one in 290 people being an amputee, is expected to affect Cambodia for years to come.