Very few people know where Cambodia is and where it lies on a map. Those who know, probably know only one thing about Cambodia and that’s Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is not the only temple, but is the most recognizable. There is also the famous Angkor Thom (ancient city), Ta Prohm (aka. jungle temple, where Tomb Rider was shot) and others.The country borders Thailand to its west and northwest, Laos to its northeast, and Vietnam to its east and southeast. In the south it faces the Gulf of Thailand. The geography of Cambodia is dominated by the Mekong river. Cambodia is a very poor country. The United Nations Development Program’s 2005 Human Development Index ranks Cambodia 131 out of 177 countries in terms of quality of life. There are still a lot of people that are living for less than 1$ USD a day. GDP in Cambodia is $592 per capita and that’s low! Cambodia has a population of around 14 million people.
The dominant religion, a form of Theravada Buddhism (95%), was suppressed by the Khmer Rouge but has since experienced a revival. Islam (3%) and Christianity (2%) are also practiced.The median age is 20.6 years, with more than 50% of the population younger than 25. UNICEF has designated Cambodia the third most mined country in the world, attributing over 60,000 civilian deaths and thousands more maimed or injured since 1970 to the unexploded land mines left behind in rural areas. The majority of the victims are children herding animals or playing in the fields. Adults that survive landmines often require amputation of one or more limbs and have to resort to begging for survival. In 2006, the number of landmine casualties in Cambodia took a sharp decrease of more than 50% compared to 2005, with the number of landmine victims down from 800 in 2005 to less than 400 in 2006.
A few quick facts:
Index of Economic Freedom: 100 out of 157
Worldwide Press Freedom Index: 126 out of 173
Corruption Perceptions Index: 162 out of 179
Human Development Index: 131 out of 177
Global Competitiveness Report: 110 out of 131
I must say that people were very friendly, and that is was a really nice traveling around Cambodia. The country has some nice beaches in the South that are not so tourist crowded. It has nice national parks and of course a lot of temples. It certainly is an interesting country to visit. It is also interesting fact that the deadliest thing in Cambodia is transport :) so watch out.
Not so well known amongst tourists, I was practically alone inside.
Probably the most known temple in Cambodia. Angkor Wat was built for the king Suryavarman II in early 12th century. It is the best preserved temple at the site and is also on the national flag. Everything in Cambodia is connected to Angkor (Angkor beer, Anchor (beer) etc…).
Ancient city of Angkor Thom. It was established by the king Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. It was probably the most populated city of its time with population around 2 million people around 13th century AD.
TA PROHM (aka Jungle temple)
Ta Prohm was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara. It was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university.
The temple of Ta Prohm was used as a location in the film Tomb Raider. Although the film took visual liberties with other Angkorian temples, its scenes of Ta Prohm were quite faithful to the temple’s actual appearance, and made use of its eerie qualities.
So much about Cambodia and the temples in this post. In the following posts I will post some more photos of landscapes, people and places in Cambodia.