More than 30 years after the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia is slowly recovering from its wounds. This glorious nation reached its peak during the time of the Khmer Empire (9th to 13th century). In the late 19th century, Cambodia became part of the French protectorate in the Indochina peninsula, and was even part of the Japanese theater of war during World War II. Today it is a constitutional monarchy and one of the poorest countries in eastern Asia. Cambodia lies on the Gulf of Thailand and much of its coastline is a long, serene stretch of beach. In the north of the country live hospitable villagers and in the center lies Tonle Sap, the country’s largest lake, which has an important inland fishery and excellent agricultural land around it because of the seasonally reversing flow of water between the lake and the Mekong River. The highlight of Cambodia, historically—and a source of great national pride—is the grandiose temples scattered around the Angkor complex, a remainder of the great Khmer-dominated Angkor Empire. These marvelous temples and shrines were built to symbolize the sheer power of the kings of the time and are a combination of Buddhist and Hindu architecture. With the end of long years of war, isolation and cruelty, Cambodia today offers travelers from all over the world a glimpse into its unique culture and history.

Location
: Southeast Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand. Cambodia border countries: Laos, Thailand, Vietnam.


Area
: 181,035 sq km.

Landscape
: the landscape is mostly low, flat plains; there are mountains in the southwest and the north. The highest point is Phnom Aoral, 1810 m.

 


Climate
: tropical; rainy, monsoon season May to November; dry season December to April; little seasonal temperature variation.

 


Nationality
: Khmer 90%, Vietnamese 5%, Chinese 1%, other 4%.

 


Population
: 14,494,293 (July 2009).

 


Languages
: Khmer (official) 95%, French, English.

 


Literacy
: 73.6% of Cambodians are literate: males 84.7%, females 64.1%.

 


Religion
: Buddhist 96.4%, Muslim 2.1%, other 1.3%, unspecified 0.2%.


Government
: multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy. The king is chosen by a Royal Throne Council from among all the eligible males of royal descent; following legislative elections, a member of the majority party or majority coalition is named prime minister by the chairman of the National Assembly and appointed by the king.

 


Administrative subdivisions:
23 provinces and the capital, Phnom Penh.

 


Civilization
: the majority of Cambodians are farmers, with about 76% of the population living in rural areas and 22% in urban centers.


Telecommunications
: domestic and international services are increasingly available for private use. In almost any big town in Cambodia you can find an internet center.

 


Monetary unit
: riel (KHR), but the US$ is widely accepted throughout the country.

Time Zone
: GMT (UTC) +7