Situated on the Indochinese peninsula, Cambodia is bordered by Thailand and Laos on the north and Vietnam on the east and south. The Gulf of Thailand is off the western coast. The size of Missouri, the country consists chiefly of a large alluvial plain ringed by mountains with the Mekong River to the east. The plain is centered around Lake Tonle Sap, which is a natural storage basin of the Mekong.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is an independent country with a population of more than 7 million people. With a surface area of 181,035 sq. km and once a French colony, is the least known Indochinese country. Cambodia has a distinct geographical personality: it is a wide basin surrounded by highlands. In this basin the farmer has created a simple life – an original civilization and philosophy of mildness. After many years of war, people rediscovered the meaning of “PEACE” They started to rebuild and reconstruct in all fields. Cambodia is divided into 20 provinces and rich in resources, forests, rubber, gems, fish and has a big potential in tourism.
FACTS ABOUT THE COUNTRY
Khmers have called their country Kampuchea (usually rendered Kambuja), since the l6th century. The name is derived from the word kambu-ja, meaning those born of Kambu (a figure of Indian mythology), which was first used to refer to the people of Cambodia in the 10th century. The Portuguese Cambodia and French Cambodge from which the English name Cambodia is derived, are adaptations of ” Kampuja”.
It was the Khmer Rouge who insisted that the outside world use the name Kampuchea. Changing the country’s official English name back to Cambodia (which has been used by the US State Department all along) was intended as a symbolic move to distance the present government in Phnom Penh from the bitter connotations of the name Kampuchea, which westerners and overseas Khmer alike associate with the murderous Khmer Rouge regime. As a result of the United Nations sponsored and enforced election in May, 1993, the Kingdom of Cambodia is now safe to travel and tourism has once again become possible. Indeed, the country and Phnom Penh in particular is undergoing something of a renaissance. Often overshadowed by the traumatic events of its recent past, Cambodia as home of the Khmer culture remains one of the most important and exotic countries in South East Asia.
Cambodian food is closely related to the cuisines of neighbouring Thailand and Laos, and to a lesser extent, Vietnam, but there are some distinct local dishes. In the growing number of restaurants in Phnom Penh and Siemreap, you will find excellent Chinese and Vietnamese dishes but it is the local dishes which are often the best prepared and most interesting. Rice is the principal staple and and Battanbang Region is the country’s rice bowl. Most Cambodian dishes are cooked in a wok known locally as a chnang khteak.
The country’s capital Phnom Penh is renowned for its beauty, particularly the area surrounding the Royal Palace where magnificent Khmer towers share the boulevard with coloured French villas overlooking the banks of the Tonle Sap river.
ANGKOR WAT AND SIEMREAP
The glorious and world-famous Angkor Wat situates in Siemreap Province and is just a few kilometers from the town. One can reach Siemreap by taking daily direct flight from Phnom Penh. Temples of Angkor were built between 7th and 11th century when Khmer civilisation was at its height of its extraordinary creativity. Angkor Wat is the cultural home of the Khmer people and one of the ancient wonders of the world. Its magnificent architecture was the evidence of the Khmer’s strong belief in religions – Hinduism and Buddhism. First discovered by Western archeologists in the late 19th century, the lost city of Angkor is just re-opening to the exploration to the modern civilisation.
ANGKOR WAT – ANGKOR THOM
The fortified city of Angkor Thom, some 10 sq km in extent, was built in its present form by Angkor’s greatest builder, Jayavarman 7 (reigned 1181 to 1201), who came to power just after the disastrous sacking by the Chams of the previous Khmer capital, is enclosed by a square wall eight metres high and 12 km in length and encircled by a moat 100 meters wide, said to have been inhabited by fierce crocodiles. The city has five monumental gates, one in the north, west and south walls and two in the east wall. The gates, which are 20 metres in height, are decorated on either side of the passageway with stone elephant trunks and crowned by four gargantuan faces of the bodhisatva Avalokitesvara.
The unit is the RIELS. Riel demoninations are 100, 200 and 500. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuation. US$ are generally accepted thoughout the country. In Phnom Penh, some credit cards can be used and limited services and purchasing and cashing traveller cheques.
Cambodia lies in a tropical zone between 10 and 14 degree of latitude north the equator. The temperature is fairly uniform throughout the year and averages 25 degree centigrade (77 degree fahrenheit). The relative humidity is higher at night and usually in excess of 90 percent, during the day the average humidity is 80 percent.
The Cambodia has an area of about 181,305 squares kilometres, bordered to the north by Thailand and Laos, to the east and the south by Vietnam, to the west by the gulf of Cambodia.