First Impressions of Cambodia

Approximately 8 million people live in this former «Land of Angkor». Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are the starting points for the world famous temple of Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century on an area 850 m wide and 1050 m long. This Southeast Asian kingdom still hides many secrets from the time of the Hindu Khmer Empire, traces of which date back to the 8th century. The filigree temple complexes of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom in Siem Reap impress visitors to a large extent and give an idea of ​​the vast areas of still undiscovered complexes.

From 1863 the country was under French colonial rule. In 1954 the country became independent. Cambodia was also involved in the turmoil of the Vietnam War and the takeover by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 finally led to ruin for the country. The Khmer Rouge were not overthrown until 1978, leaving a devastated and very poor country. 4 ½ times the size of Switzerland and with a population that is about twice as large. The temple complexes in Siem Reap, the Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and the capital Phnom Penh with its royal palace are particularly worth seeing. The climate is tropical, the rainy season lasts from May to November. Also recommended is a ride on the Mekong flight from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam or vice versa.


According to topmbadirectory, Cambodia is located on the Indochinese Peninsula, on the northeast shore of the Gulf of Thailand. The coast has a length of 443 kilometers. Cambodia borders Thailand to the west and north-west for 803 km, Laos to the north (541 km) and Vietnam (1,228 km) to the east and south-east. The total area is 181,040 km², of which 176,520 km² is land area. This makes Cambodia about half the size of Germany.


In general, the monsoon climate in Cambodia has consistently high temperatures. In December they drop to a low of 26 °C and reach their maximum of 30 °C in April. Rainfall is determined by the monsoons; from May to September/October the humid southwest monsoon blows and brings rain, the rest of the year northeast winds bring dry continental air. The lowest rainfall is measured at Tonle Sap with an average of 1,000 mm per year; in the rest of the lowlands they are 1,300-2,000 mm per year. On the western slopes of the mountains, the rainfall increases to 4,000 mm and more, the maximum values ​​are reached in the Elephant Mountains with 5,300 mm.

Flora and Fauna

Depending on the source, between 30 and 76% of Cambodia is forested. At altitudes of over 700 m with a damp and cool climate, an evergreen mountain forest grows, the trees of which reach heights of up to 20 metres. The vegetation of the western slopes of the mountains, which are rich in precipitation, is characterized by tropical rain forest, which is 40 to 50 meters high. In the undergrowth there are lower plants such as smaller trees, bushes or palm trees. The lowlands, when not in agricultural use, are covered by monsoon and dry forests, which lose their foliage in the dry season. In regions dominated by floodplain forest and swampy savannas, the soils are nutrient-poor and dry. Mangrove forests can be found on the coast. Also widespread are tree species that have become rare, such as the blackwood tree, the ebony tree and the rosewood tree (Dalbergia cochinchinensis).

Nature reserves

Cambodia was the first country in Southeast Asia to establish a nature reserve. In 1925, the land around the Angkor temple complex was declared a national park. In 1969 there were six sanctuaries for wild animals, mostly large mammals. They occupied a total of 2.2 million hectares or 12% of the country’s area. The system, which had fallen into disrepair during the civil war, was renewed in 1993 by a royal decree that resulted in the creation of 23 protected areas, which now cover 3,402,203 hectares, over 21% of Cambodia’s total area. However, they were largely located in Khmer Rouge-controlled territory and could therefore neither be controlled nor financed. Since 1993 some protected forests have been added, so that today 43,000 km² or 25% of the country are under protection. Even today, after the end of the Khmer Rouge, there are access problems in many protected areas. They are threatened by the development of settlement areas, illegal deforestation and the demand for animal organs for traditional medicine. In addition, there is a lack of resources and sometimes also the will to provide effective protection.


Cambodia has around 16.0 million inhabitants. The average age is 24.9 years, life expectancy is 69.5 years (2000: 54 years). The birth rate is 23.4 per 1,000 population compared to a death rate of 7.6 per 1,000, with an infant mortality rate of 31 per 1,000 live births. On average, a woman has 2.6 children. Population growth is 1.6%. The literacy rate is 77.2% (2015 estimate), with men at 84.5% being significantly better literate than women at 70.5%. The population density is 78 people per square kilometer. According to UNICEF estimates, there are around 670,000 orphans living in Cambodia.


Cambodia’s official language is Khmer, an Austroasiatic language spoken by 95% of the country’s residents. Other languages ​​include Vietnamese, Chinese, Cham and various other minority languages: Brao, Chong, Jarai, Kaco, Kraol, Kravet, Kr’ung, Lamam, Mnong, Pear, Samre, Sa’och, Somray, Stieng, Suoy and Tampuan.

First Impressions of Cambodia