Cambodia Population, Politics and Economy
Population in Cambodia
About 16 million people (2017) live in Cambodia with a population density of 78 residents per km². According to directoryaah, over 90% of the population belong to the Khmer ethnic group. The largest ethnic minority with a share of around 5% of the total population are the Vietnamese, followed by the Chinese with around 1%. Members of the Cham, who belong to the Malay peoples, live in the coastal area and on the lower reaches of the Mekong. Above all in the border area with Thailand in the mountains, different Thai peoples who are now called Khmer Loeu settle. About 20% of the total population lives in larger cities, of which over 1 million people live in the capital Phnom Penh. Large parts of the mountains are extremely sparsely populated or not at all, the majority of Cambodians live in the central lowlands. The official language is Khmer, other languages are French, Vietnamese, Chinese, Cham and various other minority languages. On a trip through Cambodia, at least in the touristically significant places, it is possible to communicate adequately with the English language.
Theraveda Buddhism, to which 95% of the population belongs, is the state religion in Cambodia. The religious minorities include Muslims (2%) and Christians, and animistic religions are also practiced.
Decades of civil war and the cruel actions of the Khmer Rouge have led to extremely poor living conditions for the population: With an estimated per capita income of US $ 500 annually, the country is one of the poorest in the world. Medical care for the population is inadequate and the average life expectancy is 59 years. The family is the most important social security for the individual. Despite a child mortality rate of around 3% of all births and an HIV infection rate of 2.6% of the population, the population is growing at 1.7% annually. Approximately 70% of the Cambodian population can read and write.
Politics and economics in Cambodia
According to the current constitution, Cambodia is a constitutional, parliamentary, electoral monarchy. The head of state is the elected king, who primarily performs representative tasks. The executive power rests with the Prime Minister, who is usually made up of the representative of the strongest party in the National Assembly, and a Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister.
The legislature is exercised by the two-chamber parliament, which consists of the National Assembly with 123 members directly elected by the people for five years and the Senate with 61 indirectly elected seats. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh. The Cambodian legal system is a mixture of French law, royal edicts and common law; some regulations of communist rule are also preserved. The administration of Cambodia is divided into 24 provinces. Despite the formal separation of powers, the Cambodian political system has authoritarian elements that unduly favor the prime minister’s position of power.
During the civil war and under the communist terror regime of the Khmer Rouge as well as the subsequent Vietnamese occupation, Cambodia, which used to have a high standard of living, was thrown back decades in its economic development. It was only through the introduction of the market economy and appropriate development aid that Cambodia achieved annual economic growth of between approx. 7-11% from 1993 onwards, which is mainly due to increasing tourism and textile exports. Despite the fact that Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia, the country is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world and has been accepted as a member of the Southeast Asian association of states ASEAN.
According to ebizdir, of the nearly US $ 20 billion in GDP in 2016, agriculture accounted for 26.7%, industry for 29.8% and services for 43.5%, with tourism becoming a more serious sector with growth rates of around 50% in the future Represents an economic factor. Cambodia’s export goods primarily include wood, rubber, rice, fish, tobacco, and body and footwear.
Despite international intervention, the black market in precious woods and drugs is also flourishing. Trafficking in human beings (selling children and women into prostitution) has not yet been completely stopped.
Oil production concessions are granted off the coast of Cambodia. In the north, the country has various mineral resources such as gold, coal, precious stones, bauxite, iron and phosphates, the exploitation of which has not yet been adequately researched. Since 2011, Cambodia has also had a securities exchange, the Cambodia Securities Exchange.
Transport network in Cambodia
Of the approximately 28,300 kilometers of road network in Cambodia, not even 10 percent of the routes are asphalted. The transport hub is the capital Phnom Penh in the south of the country. From here national roads run in a star shape in all directions. Since the turn of the millennium, the road network has been expanded and modernized with the help of international funding. The main means of public transport are coaches and minibuses, which run between the country’s largest cities.
Passenger trains hardly play a role in public transport and have only been in use again in southern Cambodia since 2016. There are a total of around 600 kilometers of single-track railway lines, most of which are used for freight traffic.
The Mekong plays a major role as a transport route in the east of the country. Passenger ships operate regularly between Phnom Pemh and Siem Reap. The border to Vietnam can also be crossed by ship on the Mekong. In total, there are around 3,000 kilometers of waterways on the largest river in Southeast Asia, but these are gradually being replaced by overland roads. Cambodia’s only overseas port is located in Sihanoukville on the coast.
For a trip to Cambodia, the international airports in the capital Phnom Penh and in Siem Reap are served by various airlines. There are currently (2019) no direct flights from Germany. A stopover usually takes place in Bangkok or Guangzhou.