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Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire, ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863 and it became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In April 1975, after a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off almost 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders have been tried or are awaiting trial for crimes against humanity by a hybrid UN-Cambodian tribunal supported by international assistance. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed. In October 2004, King Norodom SIHANOUK abdicated the throne and his son, Prince Norodom SIHAMONI, was selected to succeed him. Local elections were held in Cambodia in April 2007, with little of the pre-election violence that preceded prior elections. National elections in July 2008 were relatively peaceful.


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Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos

Geographic coordinates
13 00 N, 105 00 E

Map references
Southeast Asia

Area World Ranking: 90
Total 181,035 sq km
Land 176,515 sq km
Water 4,520 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Oklahoma

Land boundaries
Total 2,572 km
Border countries
Laos 541 km, Thailand 803 km, Vietnam 1,228 km

443 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Contiguous zone 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone 200 nm
Continental shelf 200 nm

Tropical; rainy, monsoon season (May to November); dry season (December to April); little seasonal temperature variation

Mostly low, flat plains; mountains in southwest and north

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Gulf of Thailand 0 m
Highest point Phnum Aoral 1,810 m

Natural resources
Oil and gas, timber, gemstones, iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential

Land use
Arable land 20.44%
Permanent crops 0.59%
Other 78.97% (2005)

Irrigated land
2,850 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
476.1 cu km (1999)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 4.08 cu km/yr (1%/0%/98%)
Per capita 290 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Monsoonal rains (June to November); flooding; occasional droughts

Environment - current issues
Illegal logging activities throughout the country and strip mining for gems in the western region along the border with Thailand have resulted in habitat loss and declining biodiversity (in particular, destruction of mangrove swamps threatens natural fisheries); soil erosion; in rural areas, most of the population does not have access to potable water; declining fish stocks because of illegal fishing and overfishing

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
Signed, but not ratified Law of the Sea

Geography - note
A land of paddies and forests dominated by the Mekong River and Tonle Sap


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Cambodia (Phnom Penh):
Country Flag
Country Locator

GPS points from Cambodia (Phnom Penh)

square Phnum Lahan Kampong Thum

square Chhoeu Kach Prey Veng

square Phum Popech Changvar Kampong Chhnang

square Phumi Vihear Sambo Kampong Cham

square Virochey (cb15)

square Kompong Stalau Preah Vihear

square Phumi Khvav (cb16)

square Phumi Tnaot Chrum Khett Kampong Spoe

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