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About Cambodia

Kingdom of Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia with a population of more than 13 million. Cambodia is the successor state of the once powerful Khmer Empire, which ruled most of the Indochinese Peninsula between the 11th and 14th centuries.

A citizen of Cambodia is usually identified as "Cambodian". "Khmer", which strictly only refers to ethnic Khmers, is also used. Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhists of Khmer extraction, but the country also has a substantial number of predominantly Muslim Cham, as well as small hill tribes.

The country shares a border with Thailand to its west and north, with Laos to its northeast, and with Vietnam to its east. In the south it faces the Gulf of Thailand. The geography of Cambodia is dominated by the Mekong river (colloquial Khmer: Tonle Thom or "the great river") and the Tonlé Sap ("the fresh water river"), an important source of fish.

History

Following a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns. Over 1 million displaced people died from execution or enforced hardships. A 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside and touched off 13 years of fighting. As a result of the devastating politics of the Khmer Rouge regime, there was virtually no infrastructure left. Institutions of higher education, money, and all forms of commerce industries were non-existent in 1978, so the country had to be built up from nothing. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy, as did the rapid diminishment of the Khmer Rouge in the mid-1990s. A coalition government, formed after national elections in 1998, brought renewed political stability and the surrender of remaining Khmer Rouge forces.

Economy

The two pillars of Cambodia's newly-stable economy are textiles and garments, and tourism. The latter has grown rapidly with 1 million visitors arriving in 2005. The long-term development of the economy after decades of war remains a daunting challenge, as the population (more than half under 20 years of age) lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure. 75% of the population still gets by on subsistence farming. On the brighter side, the government is addressing these issues - plus government corruption - with assistance from bilateral and multilateral donors.

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