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Map of Cambodia © Lonely Planet

Some fast facts:

  • Official Name: Kingdom of Cambodia
  • Capital city: Phnom Penh
  • Location: South East Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand, Vietnam and Laos
  • Independence in 1953 (from France)
  • Size: 181,040 sq km
  • Population: c.14 million (july 2005 estimate)
  • Language: Khmer
  • Religion: Buddhist (95%)
  • Climate: Tropical with the south-west monsoon from May to November and a  dry season from December to April
  • Natural resources: Timber, gemstones, iron, ore, manganese, silver and phosphates
  • Industries: Tourism, garments, rice milling, fishing, wood and wood products, rubber, cement, gem mining, textiles
  • Exports: Clothing, timber, rubber, rice, fish, tobacco and footwear
  • Modern day challenges: Diseases – malaria, TB, AIDS, road accidents


Cambodia's flag

Cambodia’s flag

Caught in the crossfire of the Vietnam American war, and subject to Pol Pot’s cruel regime in the seventies where approximately 1.7 million people perished, Cambodia’s first full year of peace, in 30 years, was in 1999. In the last ten years it has struggled to combat poverty and remains one of the poorest countries in the world with regards to wealth, health and education, consequently it is heavily reliant on aid.

Since 1991 over $5bn has been spent on foreign assistance to Cambodia. No country in the world receives a higher per capita rate of foreign aid. Over 200 NGOs are presently working in Cambodia. Every area of human need is being addressed. Despite this and, given the country’s history, education is a very poor standard.

Cambodia’s years of defeat and struggle to move forward will only change when youth’s opportunities change – this can be acheived with better education, encouragement and support. Without education for all the country will always limp on (often with a beautiful Cambodian smile) but never prosper.

Factors influencing the nation’s education include:

  • Schools and teachers are in short supply and therefore schooling is typically only 4 hours a day
  • The teachers, through no fault of their own, have had very limited training and often juggle teaching with another job
  • Many children/young adults start school much later in life since in most cases they must pay, as a typical teacher’s salary is between $25 -$50 per month
  • It is often more beneficial for families to send children out to work than send them to school
  • Parents of today’s children know education is a sensible option but most have missed an education themselves. Many children today miss bedtime stories from their mums and dads in Cambodia

Despite very limited pure “play” time, the children are always happy and very resourceful.

The children are the HOPE of the future.