Fri, March 30, 2012

Backgrounder: Basic facts about Cambodia

2012-03-30 06:06:41 GMT2012-03-30 14:06:41(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

The following are basic facts about the kingdom of Cambodia:

Situated in southern Asia, Cambodia borders Thailand to its west and northwest, Laos to its northeast, Vietnam to its east and southeast and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. Its capital is Phnom Penh.

The country has a total area of 181,035 square km and a population of 14.4 million. About 80 percent of Cambodians are khmer. The country's official language is Khmer and the official religion is Theravada Buddhism.

Cambodia is a country with a long history of civilization. The country became a protectorate of France in 1863 although it was occupied by Japan between 1941 and 1945. Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953.

The ruins of Angkor, 240 km northwest of Phnom Penh, are the symbol of Cambodia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples of the Angkor area number over 1,000 and are the biggest tourist attraction of the country.

Cambodia is traditionally an agricultural economy and among the least developed countries. In recent years, the Cambodian government has implemented a free market economy with an opening-up policy, putting priorities on economic development and poverty reduction. From 2004 to 2007, the economy grew about 10 percent annually, though the growth dropped to below 7 percent in 2008 as a result of the global economic slowdown.

Meanwhile, the government also put great emphasis on tourism by increasing capital investment and improving tourism environment. In 2008, visitor arrivals reached 2.15 million, an increase of 7 percent over the previous year.

Relations between Cambodia and China have developed smoothly since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1958.

Bilateral trade has grown steadily. The trade volume reached 1.13 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, a year-on-year increase of 21.3 percent, achieving ahead of schedule the objective of 1 billion dollars by 2010.

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