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Missionary Spotlight – Cambodia Facts

May 2004


Area:69,898 square miles.




Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.




A tropical monsoon climate, with heavy rain in the few mountainous areas (Phnum Aoral 1,801 metres). Most of Cambodia consists of a low, flat, alluvial plain, dominated by the Mekong River. The large Tonle Sap (Great Lake) communicates with the Mekong through the Tonle River. There has been considerable forest degradation through uncontrolled logging, resulting in soil erosion.




Over 13 million.


Infant mortality


76 per 1,000 live births.


Life expectancy


58 years. Many are infected with AIDS.


Ethnic groups


Khmer 83%, Vietnamese 5%, Malay 4%, indigenous tribal 3%, Chinese 2%, others 3%.




Khmer (official), French, English.







Phnom Penh (1 million).




Cambodia has rich agricultural resources, being a land of forests and paddy fields. Although 80% of the workforce work in agriculture, over one third of the country is below the poverty line, as a result of war, genocide and economic mismanagement. There is hydroelectric power and some mineral deposits, including gemstones. Exports include timber, fish, rice and rubber. Tourism is significant for the economy, but Cambodia also earns money through prostitution and the drugs trade.




Buddhist 83%; Chinese 5%; indigenous tribal (animism) 4%; Muslim 4%; Protestant 1%; others 3%. Between 1975 and 1978 the Khmer Rouge sought to eradicate all religion, including Buddhism and Christianity. Today the Evangelical churches are growing and number at least 200,000 professed Christians.




The Marxist Khmer Rouge, headed by Pol Pot, took over Cambodia in 1975 after the Vietnam War and brutally suppressed all opposition. Over 1 million people died through executions and the resulting hardships of population displacement, as people were forced from towns into rural communes. The Vietnamese army invaded in 1978 and 20 years of civil war followed. A semblance of democracy was restored in 1998.

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