Without doubt, Cambodia is one of the most exciting countries in SE Asia. A developing country emerging from years of civil conflict and economic stagnation, the last 25 years of peace have brought stability and growth to this land and its ever smiling people. Cambodia has much to look forward to with its industry, natural resources and increasing tourism. From the wondrous temples of Angkor, untouched for hundreds of years, to the colonial architecture of the Phnom Penh and unspoiled beaches in the south, the charm of Cambodia attracts people from the world over
Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, is a vibrant city and, despite its sophisticated bars, cafes, boutique and international hotels moving in and the city fast becoming a modern metropolis, it has retained its colonial charm. French influences are still very apparent in the architecture, bakeries and wine bars of today.
Following more than two decades of strong economic growth, Cambodia has attained the lower middle-income status as of 2015, with gross national income (GNI) per capita reaching $1,070. Driven by garment exports and tourism, Cambodia has sustained average growth of 7.6% 1994-2015, ranking sixth in the world (worldbank.org).
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 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 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.
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, who has served since 1985, has provided much needed stability and growth to Cambodia.
Culture and people
Cambodian culture has a rich and varied history dating back many centuries. The Cambodian people have developed a set of unique traditions through the amalgamation of Buddhism and Hinduism and are passionately spiritual. Life for most revolves around the Wat (temple) with regular worship and festivals.
The population of Cambodia is 16 million, based on the latest United Nations estimates (Nov 2017), which is equivalent to 0.21% of the total world population. More than half its people are under the age of 25.