Cambodia

By: Rachel Taber

Basic Information

Population: 15,708,756

Capital: Phnom Penh

Leader: King: Norodom Sihamoni

Government: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy with two legislative houses

Languages: Khmer (official language) 96.3%, other 3.7%

Map of Cambodia

Big image

Geography

Cambodia is located in the southwestern part of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. The country's land area is about 181,035 square kilometers which is about 50 times smaller than the area of the United States! In fact, Cambodia is just slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand all border Cambodia. The Gulf of Thailand gives Cambodia about 443 kilometers of coastline.

Major Landforms

Cambodia is right in the middle of a basin-like lowland which rises from the Gulf of Thailand. Most of Cambodia's land is covered by rolling plains and hills. In the Cardamom Mountains in the southwest of the country lies the highest point in Cambodia, Mount Aôral, which is about 5,949 feet tall. A big river called the Mekong River flows from Laos through Cambodia right into Tonle Sap River on the southwest side of the country.

Climate

Cambodia has a tropical climate. In the lowlands, there are almost always warm to hot temperatures. Here, the temperature rarely is seen below 80° F. The wet season spans from May through November. The wet season moves through Cambodia along with the southwest monsoon. During this time, there are strong winds, heavy rain, and high humidity. The dry season begins in early December and ends in April. The dry season is less harsh with lighter winds and less rainfall with lower humidity. The annual rainfall can vary from 50-55 inches to 200 inches per year. During the wet season, the Tonle Sap River stretches about 3,000 square miles and is on average 45 feet deep. In the dry season, the river shrinks to stretch only twelve hundred square miles and only 5 feet deep. Natural disasters that often occur here are monsoonal rains which bring flooding during the wet season and the dry season can bring occasional droughts.

Vegetation

More than half of Cambodia's land coverage is forestry while the rest of the land is used for agriculture, meadows, and pastures. Cambodia has many floodplains which house many strips of fertile soil that farmers grow their crops on. As much as 8,000 identified plant species have been found to be growing in Cambodia. Many of these plants are unique to the ecosystems in Cambodia such as the ecosystems of Cardamom, Tonle Sap, and Damrei Mains.

Major Cities

Not many large or major cities have ever been popular in Cambodia. Most of the country is filled with small villages and not so urban areas. The only major city in Cambodia is its capital, Phnom Penh. The population in Phnom Penh is about 1.5 million. Phnom Penh is located along the banks of the Tonle Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers and in the south-central region of Cambodia. A few other large cities are Takeo, Sihanoukville, and Battambang which aren't nearly as large as Phnom Penh with populations only in the ten thousands.

Culture

Many of the people who live in Cambodia adopt the culture and languages of the Khmer. The most popular ethnic group is the Khmer, who have lived in or near Cambodia for an estimated 2,000 years. A few other popular ethnic groups in Cambodia are those of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and even Muslim Cham-Malays. The Apsara Dance is one of traditional dances that is performed in Cambodia on special holidays.

Traditions and Foods

Khmer New Year is a big celebration held on April 13 or 14 every year and it is a three day celebration. This is said to be one of the biggest holidays that take place in Cambodia. During the three day celebration, people travel home to their villages and families and the cities shut down. Traditionally, people used to mark themselves a year older when this day came along but this rarely happens any more. There are other important holidays such as the Water Festival, Pchum Ben, and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony.

The staple food for Cambodians is rice, which is eaten with almost every meal in many different styles. Freshwater fish and water are another few commonly used foods in Cambodian cuisine. When the rainy season arrives in Cambodia, fish and water grow in quanties which is why both are used as some of the commonly used foods.

Education

Cambodia's educational system was once broken by the Khmer Rouge Government in the 1970s and they only allowed elementary schools to keep operating. Because of this, the literacy rate plummeted. After a new government took over, the education system was put back together but it suffered and is still trying to recover.

The men's literacy rate is about 14% higher than the women's literacy rate and on average, the men go through two more years of schooling than women do. The average number of years spent in school is 11 years between both genders. The education isn't completely equal between boys and girls due to the higher education rates of men than women.

Clothing

Clothing that is common among the lower class of Cambodians is bottoms called Sampots, which is a tubular garment which is worn over the lower half of the body, extending to the ankles. The Sampot can vary in colors and styles depending on the social class of the one wearing the garment. There are many different types of tops that are popular among the males and females in Cambodia. A traditional top called the aor was created at the end of the Khmer empire.

Apsara Dance Royal ballet of Cambodia

Bibliography

Works Cited

Apsara Dance Royal Ballet of Cambodia. Dir. Tola Chap. Perf. Tola Chap. Apsara Dance Royal Ballet of Cambodia. 23 June 2015. Web. 13 May 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Erbp1Isk96M>.

"Apsara Dance Royal Ballet of Cambodia." Youtube. 23 June 2015. Web. 13 May 2016.

Cambodia flag. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 11 May 2016.

Cambodia traditonal clothing. Digital image. Wikipedia. Web. 11 May 2016.

Cambodian children in school. Digital image. Wikipedia. Web. 10 May 2016.

"Cambodian Cuisine." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 12 May 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambodian_cuisine>.

Cambodian dance. Digital image. Wikipedia. Web. 10 May 2016.

"Festivals and Holidays in Cambodia | Move to Cambodia." Move to Cambodia. Web. 12 May 2016. <http://www.movetocambodia.com/about-cambodia/get-to-know-khmer-culture/festivals-and-holidays/>.

"Log in." Britannica School. Web. 12 May 2016. <http://school.eb.com/levels/middle/article/273466>.

Map of Cambodia. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 11 May 2016.

Mekong River. Digital image. Wikipedia. Web. 11 May 2016.

Phnom Penh. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 11 May 2016.

"Phnom Penh." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 12 May 2016.

Prey Lang Forest, Cambodia. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 11 May 2016.

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 11 May 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_clothing#Tops>.

"The World Factbook: Cambodia." Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, 05 May 2016. Web. 10 May 2016.