Country Listing

Cambodia Table of Contents



Population: In 1987 estimates vary from 6.3 to 7.3 million with possibly more than 500,000 Cambodians scattered in Thailand and abroad as refugees; average annual growth targeted at 2.3 percent; estimated urban population of more than 10 percent; estimated population density averages about 36 per square kilometer.

Ethnic Groups: Ethnically homogeneous, more than 90 percent Khmer; national minorities comprise about 3 percent of total population; Cham (see Glossary), of Islamic faith, most significant minority group, other scattered tribal minorities in upland and forested areas. Reportedly some Vietnamese immigration since 1981-82. Some Chinese in urban areas, numbers unknown.

Languages: National language Khmer, a member of Mon-Khmer subfamily of Austroasiatic language group. Russian and Vietnamese taught in Phnom Penh and other urban areas.

Religion: Theravada Buddhism, suppressed by Khmer Rouge (see Appendix B), revived but controlled under successor regime; wats (temples) and monks privately supported; wats administered by lay committees; Buddhist clergy or sangha (see Glossary); chairman (prathean) heads ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Education: Rate of literacy about 48 percent. In late-1980s total estimated school enrollment 1.3 million (primary), 369,500 (secondary). Schooling follows Vietnamese model with three levels: primary grades 1-4; lower secondary education, grades 5-7; upper secondary education, grades 8-10; education at all levels hampered by lack of facilities, teachers and instructional materials. Post-secondary education consists of twenty teachertraining schools, plus institutions offering professional or technical instruction. Soviet and Vietnamese instructors heavily represented in educational institutions. Admission to higher education based on political reliability.

Health: Average life expectancy 48.5 years (male 47 years, female 49.9 years) for the period 1985-90; some prevalent diseases are tuberculosis, malaria, infectious and parasitical illnesses; infant mortality 160 per thousand live births (1986); nonspecific gastro-enteritis accounts for disproportionate number of infant deaths; localized malnutrition and poor hygienic conditions exacerbate debility of population and susceptibility to illness. Total of 34 hospitals and 1,349 rural dispensaries nationwide; in countryside, network of primary care facilities being established with international help; hospitals planned or already established in provincial capitals, dispensaries at district (srok) level, first aid stations at village (khum) level; extension of health care greatly impeded by lack of trained personnel and inadequately developed infrastructure (especially clean water, and distribution or availability of medical supplies/equipment.)

Data as of December 1987