After spending 90 years governed by France, Cambodia gained independence from the French in 1953. This southeastern Asian country lies on the Gulf of Thailand, just above Vietnam. A large majority of the 15 million Cambodian residents practice Buddhism, the country’s official religion. It is an integral part of Cambodian culture and has been the official religion of the people since the 13th century.
Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. However, French used to be the language of the country when under French colonialism, so older Cambodians still retain the language and Cambodia happens to be a part of La Francophonie, an organization made up of countries and regions where French is a major language. English is also prevalent in Cambodia.
- Cambodia houses the Tonley Sap River, which is interesting for reversing its flow every year.
- One out of every 236 Cambodians is disabled, giving Cambodia the highest per capita disabled population on Earth.
- The Angkor Wat is a massive Cambodian temple spanning over 400 acres. It was originally built for Hindu worship, but came to be a place of Buddhism as more Buddhist residents began to inhabit the area. It is the world’s largest religious complex and almost four times the size of Vatican City.
- Buddhism is the major religion in Cambodia. When young, children participate in activities at their wat (temple), and most young boys serve as monks for a short period of time to earn merit.
- In Cambodia, automobilists can purchase gasoline in empty soda and liquor bottles from street vendors.
- Norodom Sihamoni, the sitting Cambodian king, spent the majority of his life outside of the country over which he reigns. A large portion of his life was spent in Europe studying classical dance, where he taught ballet for many years.
- The Cambodian town of Skuon, just 34 miles north of the capital, has gained fame among both tourists and Cambodian residents for its residents’ love of eating fried tarantulas.
- The 18th prime minister of Cambodia, Ek Yi Oun, only served in office for six days.