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The Kingdom of Cambodia is a state in Southeast Asia with a population of more than 13 million people. A citizen of Cambodia is usually identified as Cambodian, although Khmer is also used. Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhists of Khmer extraction, but the country also has a substantial number of Cham and small hill tribes.

Cambodia is the successor state of the once powerful Khmer Empire, which ruled most of the Indochinese Peninsula between the 11th and 14th centuries. The country shares a border with Thailand to its west, with Laos to its north and with Vietnam to its east. In the south it faces the Gulf of Thailand.
Most of the area of Cambodia are nearly untouched by tourists, except for Angkor and Phnom Penh.

Cities: Phnom Penh, the capital city, and Siem Reap, 7km from the wonder of Angkor, are the two largest political, cultural and economic centres.

Population: Estimated at 13 million. The Khmer constitute 90% of the population, Vietnamese (5%), Chinese (1%), and Other (4%). The biggest population concentrates in Phnom Penh, with more than one million people.

Area: Total -181,040 sq km, Land - 176,520 sq km, Water - 4520 sq km.

Land Borders: North borders Laos, all the East to Vietnam, and shares a long part of North and Northwest borders with the land of Thailand. . Sea Borders: Southwest, to the Gulf of Thailand.

Climate: The average precipitation is highest in southern Laos, where the Anna mite mountains receive over 3000 mm annually. In Vientiane rainfall is about 1500-2000 mm, and in the northern provinces only 1000-1500 mm. Generally, tourists are recommended to visit Laos during the months of November to March because these are cool months and rainfall is lower than other periods. Climate: tropical monsoon, with two periods of rainfall. The sequence of the seasons is hot, very hot, light rain, and heavy rain. High humidity is throughout and sometime up to 90%. April, then March and May are the hottest months. Early June to early October have heavy rains and humidity due to the southwest monsoon arises over the Indian Ocean. The wettest months are August and September. November to March is cool and dry, the best time for your visits.

GEOGRAPHY:

Language:
Khmer, the official language, is a non-tonal language of the Mon Khmer family, enriched by Pali and Sanskrit. English is the second major language, closely followed by French, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, are also spoken in Cambodia. Literacy rate is 60%, a legacy of the Pol Pot years.

National flag: White triple towers of Angkor set on a red background, edged with blue trim, the symbol of the Khmer culture.

Religion: Religious people accounts for 95% of the population. Theravada Buddhism was almost annihilated under the 1975 1979 reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge, but it has since been reinstated as the national religion of Cambodia. Minority groups adhere to other religion such as Catholicism (mainly Vietnamese) and Sunni Muslim (Cham).

Government: Multiparty liberal democracy under a constitutional monarchy

King: On October 14, 2004, King Norodom Sihamoni was selected by a special nine-member council, part of a selection process that was quickly put in place after the surprise abdication of King Norodom Sihanouk a week before. Sihamoni's selection was endorsed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly Speaker Prince Norodom Ranariddh (the new king's brother), both members of the throne council. He was crowned in Phnom Penh on October 29. The monarchy is symbolic and has no official political power; similar to Japan and Great Britain. Norodom Sihamoni trained as a dancer and is unmarried.

Prime Minister: Samdech Hun Sen - Born on 1952, Cambodian political leader, premier of Cambodia (1985-93, 1998-; second premier, 1993-98). In 1970 Cambodia was plunged into war. Responding to the appeal of Prince Sihanouk to Cambodians to join the war against the imperialists, at the age of 18, Samdech Hun Sen joined the struggle movement, which liberated the country on April 17, 1975. After the signing(1991) of a peace agreement with both the Khmer Rouge and Norodom Sihanouk 's forces and then national elections in 1993, Samdech Hun Sen became co premier with royalist Prince Norodom Ranariddh. Elections in 1998, Samdech Hun Sen's Cambodian People's party won, and he became sole premier in coalition with Norodom Ranariddh's party; after protracted negotiations, the coalition was renewed after the 2003 elections.

Economy: Agriculture employs about 75% of the workforce. Top exports are timber, rubber, cane furniture and garments.

JANUARY

» International New Year's Day on January 1st

Victory Day commemorating every 7th of January, the fall of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in 1979.
 

FEBRUARY

Chinese and Vietnamese New Year - Around the period of the full moon, this Chinese and Vietnamese celebration causes many shops and businesses to be closed.

MARCH

Women's Day - Colorful parades mark this national holiday on the 8th of March.

APRIL

Chaul Chhnam - This Cambodian New Year celebration is the equivalent of Songkran in Thailand and follows the end of the harvest season. Generally lasting for three days from 14-16 April during which time Cambodians douse each other liberally with water, clean and decorate their houses, and make offerings at the local temple. City streets are decorated and brightly lit in the evenings. There are cultural shows, entertainment, and competitive games.

MAY

Labour Day - National holiday on May 1st

Visa Ka Bochea - Commemorating the birth and the first sermon of the Buddha on the 17th of May.

Royal Ploughing Ceremony - Dating back to the times when the reigning king traced the first furrows in the Capital's sacred rice field, thus inaugurating the ploughing season. Today, the ritual is performed every 21st of May, with two people taking the roles of King of Neakh, who leads the yoke and plough, and Queen Me Hour, who sows seeds. After circling the field three times, the procession stops at a chapel where Brahmins invoke the protection of the gods. Sacred cows are guided to eat from seven silver trays containing such things as rice, corn, and beans. Predictions are made for the coming year based upon what they choose. The harvest will be good if they choose the cereals, rain will be abundant if they drink water, but trouble is feared if they eat herbs, or drink alcohol.

JUNE

International Children's Day - June 1st

Queen's Birthday - June 18th

JULY

Buddhist Lent - The exact date depending on the lunar calendar, this marks the beginning of the 3-month Buddhist Lent. Young men consider this day auspicious for entering the monkhood.

SEPTEMBER

End of Buddhist Lent - The day of the final celebrations of the end of Buddhist Lent, with exact date determined by the lunar calendar.

Constitution Day - September 24th

OCTOBER

Pchum Ben or Soul Day - Running for 15 days from the end of September into October, and the exact date determined by the lunar calendar, this festival is dedicated to blessing the spirits of the dead, and is one of the most culturally significant in Cambodia. Each household visits their Buddhist temple and offers food to the monks for their assistance in blessing the souls of late ancestors, relatives and friends. Pagodas are crowded with people taking their turn to make offerings, with many staying behind to listen to Buddhist sermons.

Bonn Kathen - A religious festival when monks come out of retreat, and people all over the country form reverent slow processions to their local temple. Monks change their old saffron robes for the new ones offered by the devotees, an action that brings spiritual merit to all participants. Date decided by lunar calendar.

Paris Peace Agreement - October 23rd

Birthday of His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk - Held over three days from October 30th, people converge from all corners of Cambodia to enjoy the shows, parades, festivals, and a giant firework display in Phnom Penh.

NOVEMBER

Independence Day - A national holiday on November 9th to celebrate the independence of Cambodia from France in 1953. A gala parade is held in front of the Royal Palace, which includes floats, marching bands and other entertaining festive activities.

The Bonn Om Took Water Festival - Celebrating the reversed current of the Tonle Sap River that connects the Tonle Sap Lake with the Mekong. For most of the year the river flows out from the lake into the Mekong. However, during the rainy season from about June to October the Mekong rises, causing the Tonle Sap River to flow in reverse, and the lake to swell to more than twice its regular size. At the end of the rainy season, when the water level of the Mekong drops again, the current reverts and flows back into the Mekong. This event is celebrated with three days of boat races, fairs, festivals, shows, parades, fireworks, music and dancing.

DECEMBER

International Human Rights Day - December 10th

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