After regaining independence in 1953, the country had several names:
The Kingdom of Cambodia is bordered to the North by Thailand and Laos, to the East and the South by Vietnam, and to the South and West by the Gulf of Siam and Thailand.
181-035 square kilometers
Phnom Penh, the Capital has a population of approximately 1 million. Other major cities are Battambang, the second largest city, Siem Reap, Sihanouk ville, Kompong Cham, Kandal, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kompong Thom, Svay Rieng and Kompong Speu.
Situated in the tropical zone, Cambodia benefits from a great amount of sun almost year-round. Each season has its own beauty and refreshing changes in weather. The average temperature is 27 degrees C. The minimum temperature is about 16 degrees.
There are two seasons: monsoon season and dry season.
The humid, rainy season lasts from April to October due to southwestern monsoons. Temperatures range from 27-35 degrees C, with humidity up to 90%. Mountainous areas receive the most rain (5 meters annually), while Phnom Penh receives an average of 1.4 meters annually.
The hottest month is April when the temperature can reach 38 degrees C.
The cool, dry season lasts irom November to March with temperatures ranging from 17-27 degrees C (night/ day). December to January is the coolest period.
Total population is approximately 9 million. Cambodians comprise a vari ety of peoples who are commonly called Khmer and they constitute 90-95% of the population. The population also includes a diversity of ethnic backgrounds: Chinese, Vietnamese, Chams (Khmer Islam) Hilltribes, called Khmer Loeu.
The official religion of Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism, which is also practiced in neighboring Laow, Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka.
Theravada Buddhism was introduced into Cambodia in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.
The sight of saffron-robed monks is common throughout the Kingdom and almost every village has a Buddhist temple as a dominant feature of daily life.
There are also around 500,000 Muslims in Cambodia and just over 60,000 Christians.
Rivers & Lakes
The Mekongriver flows through Cambodia from its northern border with Laos to its southern border with Vietnam. Phnom Penh was built in an auspicious location called Chatomuk-- meaning four faces-- where the Mekong intersects with the Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers.
The Tonle Sap Lake (also called the Great Lake) and the Tonle Sap River create a unique phenomenon not known in any other part oi the world: reversing its direction twice a year.
Phnom Dangrek, the Dangrek Moun tains, run along the northern border. Phnom Kravanh the Cardamon Mountains run southwest of Battambang.
Phnom Damrei, the Elephant Mountains, run east and southeast of Phnom Penh. Another mountain range runs through the northeast provinces of the country. Phnom Aoral, the country's tallest mountain at 1,813 meters, lies east of the capital between Kompong Chhnang and Kompong Speu provinces.
There are still some virgin rainforests in the western and northeastern regions of Cambodia which are rich in rare woods.
In November 1993, the King issued a Royal Decree "Creation and Designation of Protected Areas" which established a system of 23 protected areas covering 3.4 million hectares, divided into four categories: National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Protected (Cultural) Landscapes and Multiple-use Areas. Cambodia is thus attempting to develop the highest proportional level of protected areas among its Asian neighbors.
The ko prey (jungle cow) was named Cambodia's national animal by Prince Sihanouk in 1963. One of the most endangered species in the world, it is believed to exist in the northeast, although sightings of the ko prey are rare. Cambodia is abundant in wild animals including monkeys, deer, rhinoceros, crocodiles and tigers.
The Cambodian language-called Khmer-is part of the Mon-Khmer family, and has influenced both spoken and written Thai. It has 23 vowels, 33 consonants, 24 dependent vowels, 12 independent vowels and several diacritics.
Given the French protectorate presence, many older, educated Khmers speak and read French. In recent years the trend among younger Cambodians has been to study English as a second language such that one readily finds Cambodians who speak English.
The unit is the riel. Riel denominations are 100, 200 and 500. At the time of publication, the riel is fairly stabilized at approximately 2,500 riel per US$. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuation.
US$ are generally accepted throughout the country. In Phnom Penh, some credit cards can be used and limited services are available for check cashing, and purchasing and cashing travellers cheques.
A fifteen-day tourist visa is available free of charge upon arrival at Pochentong Airport (implemented mid-1994). Visa extensions are possible through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Office of Immigration (see directory for) locations).
There are direct flights to the Capital of Phnom Penh from Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Vientiane. Cambodia can also be reached by road from Vietnam. Another more exotic way to reach Cambodia is by riverboat or seacruise.
Rice and fish are the basic meals among Khmers. Local specialties include currics, soups and many varieties of dishes prepared with beef, pork, poultry and seafood which is abundant in the rivers and oceans. Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine are also common to Cambodia as well as a variety of Western cuisine which can be found in abundance in the Capital.
Main Events For 1994
|14-16 April :||Khmer New Year (Chaul Chnam)|
|25-27 May :||Royal Ploughing|
|4-6 October :||Spirits Commemoration Day (Pchum Ben)|
|30 October 1 November:||H.M. the King's Birthday|
|9 November :||Independence Day|
|17-19 November :||Water Festival (Bonn Om Tuk)|
Useful Words in Khmer
|Hello.||Choom reab suor.|
|How are you?||Sok sap-bay chea te?|
|Very well||Sok iap-bay.|
|Yes (man says)||Baht|
|Yes (woman says)||Chha|
|Excuse me||Sohm tohs...|
|Where is ...?||...noeuw tee na?|
|I Go||Khniom Teow|
|I Understand||Khniom Yuol|
|Airport||Pi-leanh yonn hoh|