(pronounced "HUN she-YEN")
"I must respond to the expectations of… the people, who want to see a new government function better and be stronger and more effective than before."
Cambodia is one of the smallest nations in mainland Southeast Asia, occupying 181,040 sq km (69,900 sq mi). Its neighbors include Thailand on the west and north, Laos on the northeast, and Vietnam on the east. The Gulf of Thailand, to its southwest, provides Cambodia's only access to open waters. Its varied topography consists of a level central plain formed by the Mekong River basin and mountains in the country's southwest and southeast regions. The tropical climate brings 127 to 203 cm (50 to 80 in) of rain annually in the lowlands and about twice as much in the mountain regions. About 75% of Cambodia's land is forested, and 16% is considered arable. The Mekong River flows southward from Laos through eastern Cambodia, and the Tonle Sap Lake serves as its natural flood reservoir.
Cambodians are a relatively homogeneous people, with the Khmer comprising 90% of its 12.8 million inhabitants (2002 estimate). The remaining population consists of Vietnamese (5%) and Chinese (1%). The official language is Khmer, but French and local dialects are also spoken. The literacy rate is 35%, and life expectancy for males and females is 54.8 and 59.5 years, respectively. Theravada Buddhism, which has a long history in the region, is the major religion.
The Cambodian economy is based primarily on agriculture and forestry, which together employ more that 80% of the population. Rice farming and milling, forestry, fishing, and rubber production represent major economic activities, with timber, rubber, fish, and precious stones serving as important sources of foreign exchange. With an estimated per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001 of US $1,500, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia and depends heavily on international aid. The national currency is the riel.
Office of the Prime Minister
Phnom Penh, Cambodia