The country has experienced strong export led growth, with GDP growth of 6.1% in 2011. Garment exports and tourist arrivals, especially by air, have increased considerably in recent years. Cambodia is located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula. It is bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Lao PDR to the northeast, Vietnam to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. Cambodia’s landscape is characterised by a low lying central plain which is surrounded by uplands and low mountains and includes the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and the upper reaches of the Mekong River Delta. Extending outwards from this central region are transitional plains, thinly forested and rising to elevations of about 200 metres above sea level.
The Mekong River flows south through the country’s eastern regions. To the east of the Mekong there is a region of forested mountains and high plateaus, which extend into Lao PDR and Vietnam. In southwestern Cambodia, there are two distinct upland areas, the Kravanh Mountains and the Damrei Mountains.
The southern coastal region adjoining the Gulf of Thailand, is a narrow lowland strip, heavily wooded and sparsely populated, which is isolated from the central plain by the southwestern highlands. The Mekong River provides fertile, irrigated fields for rice production. Exports of clothing generate most of Cambodia’s foreign exchange but tourism is also an important part of the economy.
Cambodia received 2.8 million visitors in 2011, many visiting the Angkor temples in Siem Reap Province, built between the ninth and 13th centuries. The beaches in Sihanoukville in the southeast and the capital Phnom Penh, are the principal visitor attractions. Other attractions include the area around Kampot and Kep, with the Bokor Hill Station. Buddhism is the main religion and this creates an identity and a behaviour pattern for each person. This also enforces a sense of hierarchy within society. Cambodia is a collective society. This places emphasis on groups rather than the individual. Cambodia joined ASEAN on 30 April 1999, making them the tenth member.
Joined ASEAN: 30 April 1999
Head of State: His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni
Area: 181,035 square kilometres
Border countries: Lao PDR, Thailand, Vietnam
Coastline: 443 kilometres
Capital city: Phnom Penh
Total population: 14,952,996
Population of capital: 1,519,000
Climate: Tropical and humid. Monsoon season May to November. Dry season December to April.
Languages: Khmer, French, English
Religions: Buddhist 96.4%, Muslim 2.1%, other 1.3%, unspecified 0.2%
Ethnic groups: Khmer 90%, Vietnamese 5%, Chinese 1%, other 4%