The Kingdom of Cambodia, formerly Kampuchea, is a Southeast Asian
nation that borders Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand.
The capital city is Phnom Penh.
Situated in the southwest of the Indochinese peninsula, Cambodia
occupies a total area of 181,035 square kilometers and borders Thailand
to the west and northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east,
and Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
Cambodia’s geographic coordinates are 13 00 N, 105 00 E.
Cambodia’s terrain consists mainly of low plains, with mountains to the southwest and north.
Two dominant physical features of Cambodia are the Mekong river,
which runs from north to south of the country, and the Tonlé Sap Lake.
Natural resources include oil and gas, timber, gemstones, iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential.
Cambodia’s population is approximately 14 million. Ninety per cent
of residents are Khmer; the rest are Cham (Khmer Muslim), Chinese,
Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Phnorng, Kuoy, Stieng, Tamil, etc. Population
density is 78/ km2.
ClimateLike most of Southeast Asia, Cambodia’s climate is hot and warm
almost all year round. The climate is dominated by the annual monsoon
cycle of rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season lasts from May to
October, and the dry season from November to April. December to January
are the coolest months, while the hottest period is in April. The
average temperature is around 27-28ºC.
The romduol, a small yellowish-white flower, is the national flower of
the Kingdom of Cambodia. Since ancient times, Cambodian women have
often been compared to the Romduol flower because of its attractive
fragrance; a unique scent that is prominent in the late afternoon and
can travel over long distances with the wind. With its sturdy stems
that measure up to 30cm, the Romduol plant can grow to a height of 12
meters. These plants are being planted to enhance public parks.
Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. The Cambodian language
is derived from the Mon-Khmer (Austro-Asiatic) language family. Khmer
is renowned for possessing one of the largest sets of alphabets; it
consists of 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels.
While tourists may wish to learn a few spoken phrases before or
when visiting Cambodia, English is widely spoken and understood. French
and Mandarin are also spoken frequently in the country; most elderly
Cambodians speak French and many people in the Khmer-Chinese population
Customs and Tradition
Cambodian culture and tradition have had a rich varied history dating
back many centuries. Over the years, the people of Cambodia developed a
set of unique tradition from the syncretism of indigenous Buddhism and
Cambodians have been raised to respect their culture and are very
traditional in their way of life. Tourists will see the well mannered
Cambodian expressing a friendly “Chumreap Suor” when they meet one.
Cambodians traditionally greet with a
Sampeah, which involves pressing the palms together before the chest
with a slight bow and greeting with a polite ‘Chumreap Suor’.
Customarily, the higher the hands are held and the lower the bow, the
more respect is conveyed. Except when meeting elderly people or
government officials, between men, this custom has been partially
replaced by the handshake. Women usually greet both men and women with
the same traditional greeting. Although it may be considered acceptable
for foreigners to shake hands with a Cambodian, it is more appropriate
to respect the custom and respond with a ‘Chumreap Suor’.
are many classical dance forms in Cambodia, of which a highly stylized
art form was once confined mainly to the courts of the royal palace and
performed mainly by females. Known formally in Khmer as Robam Apsara,
the dancers of this classical form are often referred to as Apsara
This dance form was first introduced to foreign countries and best
known during the 1960s as the Khmer Royal Ballet. The first royal
ballerina was Princess Norodom Bopha Devi, a daughter of King Norodom
Apsara Dance is particularly inspired by the style from around more
than a thousand Apsara carvings in the Angkor temple complex. As
evidenced in part by these Apsaras (celestial dancers), dance has been
part of the Khmer culture for more than a millennium.
A visit to Cambodia is only complete when one has attended at least one such traditional dance performance.
Cambodia Travel Guide