Cambodia is without doubt one of the most exciting countries in SE Asia. A developing country emerging from decades of civil conflict and economic stagnation at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, the last 20 years of peace have brought significant developments to this land and its ever smiling people. The country has much to look forward to with potential oil, gas and mineral deposits to be mined and a rapidly growing tourism industry. From the wondrous temples at Angkor, untouched for thousands of years, to the colonial architecture of the capital Phnom Penh and unspoilt beaches, the charm of Cambodia attracts tourists from the world over
Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, is a vibrant city , there are truly sophisticated bars, cafes, boutique and internationally branded hotels are moving in and though the city is fast becoming a modern metropolis, it is managing to retain its colonial charm, with the French influences still very apparent in the architecture, bakeries and wine bars of today.
Cambodia has achieved impressive economic growth since the mid-1990s, its economy grew at almost 10% per year between 1998 and 2008 (worldbank.org). Although this growth was interrupted by the global financial crisis, its growth momentum is expected to continue with projected growth rates of 6.7% in 2013 and 7.0% in 2014 (IMF, worldbank, ADB). Currently, Cambodia’s foreign policy focuses on establishing friendly borders with its neighbours, as well as integrating itself into regional (ASEAN) and global (WTO) trading systems.
The three main Asian economic powers, China, Japan and Korea are largest investors in Cambodia with total investment about $762.6 million (Council for the Development of Cambodia – CDC). This represents 33 per cent of the total $2.28 billion of foreign investment in the Kingdom in 2012.
Cambodia’s two largest industries are textiles and tourism, while agricultural activities remains the main source of income for many Cambodians in rural areas. The garment industry accounts for 80% of the country’s exports and employs over 400,000 workers. Tourism numbers surpassed 3.5 million visitors in 2012 (Ministry of Tourism).
In the first 8 months of 2013, Cambodia’s construction sector had received a total investment of 2.14 billion U.S. dollars for the approved 1,100 constructing licenses issued by the Ministry of Land Management. In 2012, the amount of money spent on construction in Cambodia soared by 72 per cent compared to 2011, according to data from the Ministry of Land Management. The ministry said it had issued 1,694 construction patents covering 6.5 million square metres of land, involving total capital of $2.1 billion in 2012, compared with 2,125 patents for 4.2 million square metres and capital of $1.2 billion in 2011, an increase of 71.9 per cent, the data shows.
Cambodia is a multi-party democracy under a constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister of Cambodia is the head of the government and of the multi-party system whilst the King is the head of state. The monarchy is symbolic and does not exercise political power, although it is the King who appoints the Prime Minister on the advice of the National Assembly. The current prime minister Hun Sen, has served since 1985 which has provided much needed stability and growth to Cambodia.
Culture & People
Cambodian culture and tradition have had a rich varied history dating back many centuries. Over the years, the people of Cambodia developed a set of unique tradition from the syncretism of indigenous Buddhism and Hinduism. Cambodians are passionately spiritual; life for most revolves around the Wat, or temple, with regular worship and festivals
With a population over 15.2 million (July 2013, CIA Factsheet), Cambodia’s has a young population with more than half the population under the age of 25 years old.