Cambodia officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia and once known as the Khmer Empire is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Its total landmass is 181,035 square kilometers (69,898 sq. mi), bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. With a population of over 14.8 million, Cambodia is the 69th most populous country in the world. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by approximately 95% of the Cambodian population. The country's minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams, and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic, and cultural center of Cambodia. The kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch chosen by the Royal Throne Council, as head of state. The head of government is Hun Sen, who is currently the longest serving non-royal leader in South East Asia and has ruled Cambodia for over 25 years.
Climate & Weather
Cambodia's climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia, is dominated by monsoons, which are known as tropical wet and dry because of the distinctly marked seasonal differences. Cambodia has a temperature range from 21 to 35 °C (69.8 to 95.0 °F) and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to April. The country experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February. Cambodia has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C (71.6 °F) and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can rise up to 40 °C (104 °F) around April. Disastrous flooding occurred in 2001 and again in 2002, with some degree of flooding almost every year.
The Wet Season
The wet season comes courtesy of the southwest monsoon which blows from May to October, bringing with it some 75% of Cambodia's annual rainfall. Not surprisingly, the wet season is characterized by rain, and during the peak of wet season from July to September it can rain as much as two out of every three days. However, the rainy days are usually just a few hours of heavy downpour and not all-day rain, although the latter do occur. From a more cheerful perspective, monsoonal Cam
bodia is also a beautiful country to travel around in. The roads are not dusty and the lush greenery of the country returns. Angkor Wat in particular can be stunning during the wet season, the murals have a more unique appearance and feel. Observing Angkor Wat with a lightning storm as a backdrop is an electrifying experience. There are also fewer tourists going about in the country, so if you prefer to dodge the crowds, wet season can be a good time to visit. Regionally, the Cardamom Mountains get the heaviest rain in the country, while the entire coastline gets rough seas and a lot of rain.
The Dry Season
The dry period runs from October to April, when the dusty northeast monsoon arrives. Blowing like a hair-dryer set to high, the northeast monsoon dries out the country very quickly. While November and January are quite cool (high C20s) by April, the weather can be scorching and very dry. Characterised by heat and dust, this season coincides with Cambodia's peak tourist season when travellers arrive in their droves between November and January to take advantage of the lack of rain, enjoy the sun and the relatively cooler months. Cambodia's beach strips at Kep, Sihanoukville and Ko Kong bask in brilliant sunshine with clear calm waters and if you're a beach person, dry season is the best time for you.
Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Cambodia, which is practiced by more than 95 percent of the population. The Theravada Buddhist tradition is widespread and strong in all provinces, with an estimated 4,392 monastery temples throughout the country. The vast majority of ethnic Khmers are Buddhist, and there are close associations between Buddhism, cultural traditions, and daily life. Adherence to Buddhism generally is considered intrinsic to the country's ethnic and cultural identity. Religion in Cambodia, including Buddhism, was suppressed by the Khmer Rouge during the late 1970s but has since experienced a revival. Islam is the religion of the majority of the Chams and Malay minorities in Cambodia. The majority of Muslims are Sunnis of the Shafi'i school and are very numerous in Kampong Cham Province. Currently there are more than 300,000 Muslims in the country. One percent of Cambodians areidentified as being Christian, of which Catholics make up the largest group followed by Protestants. There are currently 20,000 Catholics in Cambodia, which represents 0.15% of the total population. Other denominations include Baptists, The Christian and Missionary Alliance, Methodists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Apostolic or United Pentecostals, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mahayana Buddhism is the religion of the majority of Chinese and Vietnamese in Cambodia. Elements of other religious practices, such as the veneration of folk heroes and ancestors, Confucianism, and Taoism mix with Chinese Buddhism are also practiced.
The population of Cambodia today is about 10 million. About 90-95 percent of the people are Khmer ethnic. The remaining 5-10 percent include Chinese-Khmers, Khmer Islam or Chams, ethnic hill-tribe people, known as the Khmer Loeu, and Vietnamese. About 10 percent of the population lives in Phnom Penh, the capital, making Cambodia largely a country of rural dwellers, farmers and artisans. The ethnic groups that constitute Cambodian society possess a number of economic and demographic commonalties- for example. Chinese merchants lived mainly in urban centers and play middlemen in many economic cycles, but they also preserve differences in their social and cultural institutions. They were concentrated mostly in central and in southeastern Cambodia, the major differences among these groups lie in social organization, language, and religion. The majority of the inhabitants of Cambodia are settled in fairly permanent villages near the major bodies of water in the Tonle Sap Basin-Mekong Lowlands region. The Khmer Loeu live in widely scattered villages that are abandoned when the cultivated land in the vicinity is exhausted. The permanently settled Khmer and Cham villages usually located on or near the banks of a river or other bodies of water. Cham villages usually are made up almost entirely of Cham, but Khmer villages, especially in central and in southeastern of Cambodia, typically include sizable Chinese communities.
The Cambodian language is Khmer, which is inherited itself - and advanced in education with application of Indic languages Pali and Sangkrit from India. Also, the Khmer language is influenced by spoken and written Thai. Some technical languages are borrowed from French. However, English is commonly communicated in hotels and business compounds at present days. English and French are popular second languages and Chineses is the third.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for establishing national policies and guidelines for education in Cambodia. The Cambodian education system is heavily decentralised, with three levels of government, central, provincial and district – responsible for its management. The constitution of Cambodia promulgates free compulsory education for nine years, guaranteeing the universal right to basic quality education. The 2008 Cambodian census estimated that 77.6% of the population was literate (85.1% of men and 70.9% of women). Male youth age (15–24 years) have a literacy rate of 89% compared to 86% for females. The education system in Cambodia continues to face many challenges, but during the past years there have been significant improvements, especially in terms of primary net enrollment gains, the introduction of program based-budgeting, and the development of a policy framework which helps disadvantaged children to gain access to education.
The country has also significantly invested in vocational education, especially in rural areas, in order to tackle poverty and unemployment. Two Many of Cambodia's most acclaimed universities are based in Phnom Penh. Traditionally, education in Cambodia was offered by the wats (Buddhist temples), thus providing education exclusively for the male population. During the Khmer Rouge regime, education suffered significant setbacks. With respects to academic performance among Cambodian primary school children, research showed that parental attitudes and beliefs played a significant role. Specifically, the study found that poorer academic achievement among children were associated with parents holding stronger fatalistic beliefs (i.e., human strength cannot change destiny).
The study further found that "length of residence" of parents in the community in which they stay predicted better academic achievement among their children. Overall, the study pointed out to the role of social capital in educational performance and access in the Cambodian society in which family attitudes and beliefs are central to the findings.