Interesting Facts about Cambodia

Think about Cambodia and what flashes in our minds is the image of a South East Asian nation whose history is one of the darkest episodes of humanity in the past century. The violence that this country faced during world war II or during the period between 1970s - 1980s, under the Khmer Rouge empire, are some facts about Cambodia, that still reverberate in the memories of those who discuss its history.
Those who follow history and global news, must be aware of yet another of Cambodia facts, that even though almost 30 years have passed since the end of treacherous Khmer Rogue empire, Cambodian people have not yet fully recovered from that horrific reign. But not all is dark and dull when it comes to Cambodia facts and figures. Amongst numerous facts about Cambodia, that is sure to bring a smile on faces of Cambodian citizens is that, peace, growth and development have been significant in the 21st century Cambodia. It is hoped that the 21st century brings joy, growth and sustainable developments for this country.

Cambodia Facts and Information

Cambodia is not just a reminder of violence and bloodshed but there are several interesting facts about Cambodia, that have been shadowed by its dark history. Nonetheless, as growth opportunities in Tourism have been significant in 21st century, government of Cambodia is taking efforts to create more awareness about the much evident historical marvels and rich cultural heritage of this beautiful nation. One of the 10 interesting facts about Cambodia is that The Tonle Sap, a river in Cambodia, reverses it flow annually and it is the only river in the world to do so! One of the Cambodia fun facts is that shopping in this country is based on "flea market" style social event, wherein, the vendors and street hawkers sell second hand and new products on negotiable rates. Shopping in this style is interesting for tourists as they can pick up really inexpensive items while on a trip to Cambodia!

Historical and Geographical Facts About Cambodia
  • Cambodia is bordered by Thailand (west & north), Laos (north) and Vietnam (east). In the south, it is faced by the Gulf of Thailand.
  • Earliest kingdoms in Cambodia that existed from first to six century AD, were known as "Funan" and it is believed that it was a kingdom very much influenced by India.
  • After the fall of "Funan" in 6th century AD, it was ruled by ethnically-Khmer kingdom, referred to as, Chenla, by Chinese.
  • From 790 AD to 1431, it was the peak period of Cambodia and it stood as a united nation for nearly 500 years, under the able reign of Prince Jayavarman II, also known as founder of the Khmer empire.
  • After the fall of Khmer empire, Cambodia remained under the control of Thai, Vietnamese and later, under French rule (from 1863 – 1953).
  • In the world war II, Japanese took over Cambodia and promoted Asian ideas. Japan however lost to France eventually and Cambodia was under French rule again but increasing pressure from Cambodian citizens led to their independence on November 9, 1953. This is one of the noteworthy Cambodia facts for kids, who must remember the independence day of this nation.
  • Till 1970, Cambodia was peacefully ruled by King Sihanouk, until the worst occurred in Cambodia leading to the Cambodia Civil war between 1967 to 1975.
  • In 1975, the communist force; the Khmer Rogue, headed by Pol Pot, the man responsible for one of the worst genocides of the 20th century, took control of Cambodia. Just in 4 years of its rule, nearly 1/5 of the population (1.7 to 2.5 million people) comprising of educated people, monks and priests were killed by starvation, over work or torture. One of the most shocking Cambodia facts is that Pol Pot wanted to remove any educated or intellectual Cambodian so that nobody remains to oppose his policies.
  • The Khmer Rouge empire ended in 1979 after Vietnamese attack however, till 1999, the Khmer Rogue fighters used guerrilla warfare to regain control over Cambodia.
  • In 1998, Pol Pot died (before he could face trial). Many alive leaders of Khmer Rogue are still facing trials in Cambodia.
  • The Mekong river; the largest river in South East Asia, flows across this country.
  • In 2001, the first bridge in Cambodia was built across the Mekong river, and it connected the east and the west parts of the nation.
  • In 2005, oil and natural gas were discovered off the coast of Cambodia.
Interesting Facts About Cambodia
  • King Norodom Sihamoni is the current head of state in Cambodia that follows constitutional monarchy.
  • Hun Sen, elected in 1998 is still the prime minister of Cambodia and heads the government. The executive branch and the bicameral parliament are two wings of legislative power.
  • As per the 2008 census, the population of Cambodia is 14,240,000.
  • Nearly 90% of the population of Cambodia are the ethnic people.
  • Only 3.6% of the Cambodian population is above 65 years of age. Cambodia boasts of a very young population with the median age of a citizen being 21.7 years!
  • Literacy in this nation is 73.6%.
  • Khmer is the official language of Cambodia and its script is known as abugida. Besides Khmer, French, Vietnamese, and English are other languages spoken in Cambodia.
  • Phnum Aoral, at 1,810 meters is the highest point in Cambodia.
  • 75% of workers in this country are farmers and agriculture dominates the economy.
  • Although Cambodia has been a relatively poor country (35% people are below poverty line), 21st century has witnessed a growth rate of GDP between 5% to 9%, promising for a better life ahead.
  • The official currency of Cambodia is Riel (KHR) and is divided into 100 sen. Except US dollars, it is difficult to trade other currencies.
  • Phnom Penh, is the capital city of Cambodia and it houses the Phnom Penh international airport.
  • In Cambodia, the greeting gesture is known as Sompeah and it is done by pressing palms together and then bowing to each other. The gesture must be initiated by the younger of the two people greeting each other. Western handshake is acceptable when being introduced to Cambodian people.
  • Tourists in Cambodia are accepted to dress modestly and behave in a pleasing manner. Since head is regarded as the highest body part, it is advisable not to touch anyone's head, even when you're friends, with that person!
  • Pointing feet or soles to people or things, is considered to be disrespectful and so be aware to tuck them away when sitting on a chair or floor.
  • Buddhism has been the main religion in Cambodia since ages.
  • Seek permission, if you're excited to take photographs of temples or monks and priests.
  • Angor Wat, now a UNESCO world heritage site and the world's largest religious buildings is situated in Angkor, Cambodia. It was built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century.Architecture of Angkor Wat is fascinating and it is one of the masterpieces of Khmer architecture.
  • Angkor Wat is dedicated to one of the most worshiped Hindu Gods, Vishnu.
  • Angkor Wat appears on the national flag of Cambodia and it is the only national flag in the world to feature a building symbol.
  • The British drama movie, "The Killing Fields", based on genocide in Cambodia, that was released in 1984, has been known to be one of the best movies ever made on genocide. Haing S. Ngor, the actor who played the role of Cambodian journalist, Dith Prath, got an Oscar award for his supporting role. He is the first Asian actor to have won an Oscar in the history of Oscar awards.
Tourists visiting Cambodia must gather information about Cambodia's culture, democracy, traditions, currency, hotel rates, security issues and other factors. Cambodia houses Angkor Wat, one of the greatest religious centers the world has ever witnessed. Owing to the tremendous potential of tourism in this country, let us hope that a new era of peace and prosperity reigns in Cambodia and it regains its stature of being one of the best vacation spots in Southeast Asia. By going through the above Cambodia facts you must have got some insights about this country. This is where I sign off!


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