Cambodia, The Kingdom of Wonder…

Cambodian Culture / Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Hmmn, I realized I’ve written some posts already about living in Cambodia but I have yet to write down some basic things you need to know about Cambodia. Most people conjure up images of Khmer Rouge, genocide and at times, Angkor Wat when the word Cambodia comes up.

But then, living here made me realize this country is awesome, unique and totally fascinating. And yes! There is more to Cambodia than just the Khmer Rouge and its horrible legacy. This country has a lot of natural beauty waiting to be explored, not only the magnificent Angkor Wat temples but its scenic countrysides, national parks, lovely beaches that is not “yet”so crowded, its cuisine, and its people. Cambodia has a lot to offer in terms of rich natural, cultural as well as historical heritage. It’s now also called the world’s newest and one of the most exotic travel destinations.

Here’s some basic facts about Cambodia:

Official Name: Kingdom of Cambodia.
Motto: Nation Religion King
Form of Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Capital City: Phnom Penh

Cambodia covers 181, 035 sq. km. It is located in Southeast Asia It is bordered by Laos on the northeast, Vietnam on the east and southwest, Thailand on the west and northwest and the Gulf of Thailand on the south.

Dominant features of Cambodia’s geography is the Mekong River as well as the Tonle Sap Lake. The Mekong one of Asia’s longest, flows from Tibet down to Laos, then to Cambodia, continuing to Southern Vietnam to the South China Sea. Because of this river, Cambodia has a very fertile agricultural lands. The Tonle Sap Lake is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and it is the main source of fish and irrigation for majority of Cambodia.

Cambodia’s population is estimated at 14 million (2008); most of them are Khmers with some Chinese and Vietnamese minorities. The official language is Khmer, while French is spoken by some old people and English gaining popularity among younger Khmers. Dominant religion is Theravada Buddhism, with a small percentage practicing Islam and Christianity.

Phnom Penh is the capital and the largest city. Other big centres are Battambang, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Official currency is Riels though US dollars are widely accepted and in some parts of the country, Thai baht is also accepted. Industries: rice milling, fishing, wood and wood products, rubber, cement, gem mining, textiles. The country is rich is natural resources mainly timber, gemstones, some iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential.

Cambodia is best known for the legacy of the mighty Khmer empire – the Angkor temples. Considered one of the most magnificent structures in the world, and there is no other historical site in Southeast Asia that matches its grandeur and architectural splendor.

This country has recently seen a steady influx of tourists. Between the ruins of Angkor, the beautiful islands and beaches on the south coast, national parks, the unique Khmer culture and art, it is hardly surprising. Eco-tourism is also gaining ground as more and more people are heading off the beaten track and venturing into the hill tribe regions of Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri, the Kirirom National Park and other more remote but beautiful rural areas.

Getting here is now much easier with numerous incoming direct flights to Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport. Visas can also be obtained at the airport and at border crossings(valid for 30 days).


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