Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, mountains and Gulf of Thailand coastline. Phnom Penh, its capital, is home to the art deco Central Market, glittering Royal Palace and the National Museum’s historical and archaeological exhibits. In the country’s northwest are the ruins of Angkor Wat, a massive stone temple complex built during the Khmer Empire.

Much of Cambodia’s overall land area is a series of rolling plains, north to south. Its most striking landforms include Tonle Sap Lake, and the Mekong River, which crosses the entire country as it flows through the Mekong Lowlands and on to the South China Sea. Two mountain ranges of note include the Dangret range on its northern border with Thailand and the Cardamom range in the west. Cambodia’s highest point is Phnum Aoral at 5,938 ft. (1,810 m).

 Key Cities

Key cities in Cambodia include: Phnom Penh, Ta khmau, Battambang, Sarei Saophoan, Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Poipet, Preah Sihanouk, Chbar Mon, Kampot

Historical, Cultural facts & Religion

Pol Pot Pol Pot is a pseudonym for the Cambodian guerrilla commander Saloth Sar, who organized the Communist guerrilla force known as the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge ousted General Lon Nol in 1975, establishing a brutal Communist regime that ruled until 1979.

The culture of Cambodia has had a rich and varied history dating back many centuries and has been heavily influenced by India. Throughout Cambodia’s long history, a major source of inspiration was from religion. Throughout nearly two millennia, Cambodians developed a unique Khmer belief from the syncretism of indigenous animistic beliefs and the Indian religions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Indian culture and civilization, including its language and arts reached mainland Southeast Asia around the 1st century AD.

Cambodia is predominantly Buddhist with 90% of the population being Theravada Buddhist, 1% Christian and the majority of the remaining population follow Islam, atheism, or animism.

Buddhist nun at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Buddhism has existed in Cambodia since at least the 5th century CE Theravada Buddhism has been the Cambodian state religion since the 13th century CE (excepting the Khmer Rouge period), and is currently estimated to be the faith of 90% of the population.

Buddhist monks at Angkor Wat. Buddhism is the official religion in all of Cambodia.

Islam is the religion of a majority of the Cham (also called Khmer Islam) and Malay minorities in Cambodia. According to Po Dharma, there were 150,000 to 200,000 Muslims in Cambodia as late as 1975. Persecution under the Khmer Rouge eroded their numbers, however, and by the late 1980s, they probably had not regained their former strength. All of the Cham Muslims are Sunnis of the Shafi’i school. Po Dharma divides the Muslim Cham in Cambodia into a traditionalist branch and an orthodox branch.

 Brief Country History

It was during this period that the Khmer kings built the most extensive concentration of religious temples in the world – the Angkor temple complex. This complex covers an area of 400 sq km in the province of Siem Reap. The area contains more than 100 temples and more than 1,080 temples across the country. The most successful of the Angkorian kings, Jayavarman II and Jayavarman I, Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII, also devised a masterpiece of ancient engineering: a sophisticated irrigation system that includes a number of baray (gigantic manmade lakes) and canals that ensured as many as three rice crops a year. Part of this system is still in use today. As the Angkor period ended, Cambodia’s capital moved south to Longvek, then to Oudong, and finally to the present-day capital of Phnom Penh. Among the main features of the post-Angkorean era, besides the movement of the capital, was a widespread conversion to Theravada Buddhism, illustrated on temple carvings, where Buddhist features gradually replaced Hindu features. The 15th to 17th centuries represented a time of foreign influence when expansionist Siam and Vietnam fought over Cambodia. By the mid-1800s, Cambodia, like most other countries in Asia, came under increasing pressure from European colonial powers. In 1863, King Norodom signed a Protectorate Treaty with France. In 1945, the Japanese briefly ousted the French. Encouraged, King Sihanouk campaigned tirelessly and in 1953 he succeeded in winning independence for Cambodia, effectively ending 90 years under French protectorate. King Sihanouk abdicated the throne to his father and took the reins of government himself as head of state.

The SOC ruled independently until the Paris Peace Agreement of 1991 created the United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAC). Supported by the presence of some 22000 UN troops, UNTAC in May 1993 supervised general elections in Cambodia. A second general election was held in 1998. Cambodia today enjoys a parliamentary system with one prime minister. A constitution was adopted in 1993, the same year King Norodom Sihanouk returned to the throne. His Majesty remains a symbol of national unity to his people.

Language (s) Written & Spoken

Cambodia has a single official language which is Khmer. It is spoken by nearly 90% of the country’s population. The language is used in government administration, imparting education at all levels, media, etc. After the Vietnamese language, Khmer is also the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language.

The Khmer script is an abugida script used to write the Khmer language. It is also used to write Pali in the Buddhist liturgy of Cambodia and Thailand.

 Important Types of Commerce in Cambodia

Industries in Cambodia (excluding extractive industries and mining) are mostly within the garment, light manufacturing, agricultural, construction, and tourism sectors.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has set directions to transform Cambodia into a middle-income economy by 2030 and high-income countries by 2050, as mandated in the National Strategic Development Plan for 2014–2018. The directions emphasize the role of industry and small and medium enterprises as a key driver of future growth.

The government prepared and adopted an Industrial Development Policy (IDP) in March 2015 as a guide to provide systemic solutions to developing a competitive industrial sector in Cambodia. A key aim of the IDP is driving economic (and export) diversification beyond garment and footwear manufacturing. The target was for these dominant products to fall to 55% of total exports by 2020 and 50% by 2025.

In July 2017 it was announced that the World Bank will provide Cambodia with US$540 million over 2018–2021 to finance economic development, with a particular focus on supporting the implementation of the Industrial Development Policy.

Key industries include garment and light manufacturing, food and beverage processing, construction and real estate, tourism, as well as the emerging mining and exploration industry.

 Language Services US and others will provide working with Cambodia

More than 90% of Cambodia’s population speak Khmer, this makes language services a significant factor when doing business with Cambodia. Fluent in Khmer and English vocabulary, specialized industry terminology, common phrases and the culture of both languages is desired —all of which contributes to accurately translate the meaning of the source document. Providing Khmer translations and interpretation to stakeholders is beneficial to all industries that do trades overseas.

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