Cambodia has a long history of war, conflict and widespread poverty. Today, the country is recovering, but corruption and lack of democracy are hindering the economic progress of the whole population.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Phnom Penh
- Ethnic groups: Khmer 97.6%, Cham 1.2%, Chinese 0.1%, Vietnamese 0.1%, other 0.9% (2013)
- Language: Khmer (official) 96.3%, other 3.7% (2008)
- Religion: Buddhists (official) 97.9%, Muslims 1.1%, Christians 0.5%, others 0.6% (2013)
- Population: 16 245 729 (2018)
- Control Form: monarchy
- Area: 181 040 km2
- Currency: Riel at 100 sen
- GNP per capita: 3 737 PPP $
- National Day: November 9th
Cambodia has a population of 16,449,519 (2018). This constitutes 17 and 24 percent of the population in neighboring Vietnam and Thailand respectively. The population increase was 1.48 percent in 2018. The population density is 90.7 persons per square kilometer. Besides in the cities, the density is highest in the central plain of the Mekong, but is still significantly lower here than in similar river plains in Vietnam and Thailand.
The average life expectancy at birth is for women is 67.9 years and for men 62.7 years. The birth and death rates per 1000 residents are 22.5 and 7.4 respectively. The birth rate per woman is 2.47 children (2018).
During the Red Khmer (1975-1979), the urban population was forced out into the countryside. A re-urbanization started in the 1980s. 23.4 percent of the population now live in urban areas.
The civil war and the conditions of the Red Khmer have also led to special peculiarities in the population. A birth explosion that started after the fall of the Red Khmer in 1979 has led to the population being very young. 30.76 percent of the population is under 14. About a quarter of the population still does not have access to clean drinking water, and illiteracy is at 22.8 percent (2015).
97.6 percent of the population is ethnic Khmer, making Cambodia the most homogeneous country in Southeast Asia. Khmers have populated Cambodia since prehistoric times (since before 100 century CE.). Their culture is influenced by intercourse and contact with other cultures, first and foremost Indian culture and religion through civilizations in India and Java, later also with Thais (900th to 14th centuries), Vietnamese (from early 16th century) and Chinese (since the 18th century). The main minority groups cham – Muslims (1.2 percent), Vietnamese (0.1 percent) and Chinese (0.1 percent).
The Khmer people are traditionally Buddhists (theravada). 97.9 percent of the population belongs to this religion, which has played a dominant role in the cultural life of the people. 1.1 percent of the population are Sunni Muslims and 0.5 percent are Christians.
The official language is Khmer, which is the mother tongue of 96.3 percent of the population. Khmer is written with an alphabet developed from the Indian Brahman script. Furthermore, Vietnamese and Chinese are spoken.