Country profile: Cambodia

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Overview

Cambodia, with an area of 69,898 square miles, is bordered by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam and has a coastline on the Gulf of Thailand. Apart from the Cardamom Mountains in the South-west and uplands in the North-east, the country is predominantly flat. The scarp slope of the Dangrek Mountains marks much of the northern border with Thailand. In the centre of the country is the largest lake in South East Asia, the Tonle Sap.

The fate of Cambodia shocked the world when the radical communist Khmer Rouge under their leader Pol Pot seized power in 1975 after years of guerrilla warfare. An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died during the next three years, many from exhaustion or starvation. Others were tortured and executed. Today, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and relies heavily on aid.

Cambodia’s pristine environment may be a big draw, but much of it is currently under threat. Ancient forests are being razed to make way for plantations, rivers are being sized up for major hydroelectric power plants and the south coast is being explored by leading oil companies. All this helps add up to an ever-stronger economy, which is growing at an incredible 10% a year, but it’s unlikely to encourage the ecotourism that is just starting to develop.

Despite its troubles, Cambodia has a great deal to offer visitors; why not explore the remnants of the Khmer Empire – home to the largest pre-industrial urban centre in the world – at Angkor. Perhaps only matched by Machu Picchu, the temples offer a sublime insight into early architecture and an immersive step into a time long since past. After a long day exploring, the capital of Phnom Penh offers world class dining in an unbeatable riverside setting. Nothing quite matches the people of Cambodia who continue to be positive and welcoming despite the struggles of the past 50 years.

Health system

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18 hospital profiles  
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Quick facts

Capital Phnom Penh
Population 16 000 000
Language Khmer (official)
Literacy 77.6%
Timezone GMT + 7
Telephone code +855
Currency KHR (Riels)
Growth 1.7%

Health data

Life expectancy M: 67 years    F: 71 years
No. doctors 0.14 per 1000 population
Hospital profiles 18

Travel information

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Student experiences in Cambodia

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1 case studies about electives in Cambodia

Your Q&As about Cambodia

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