Cruelty tourism in Cambodia

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Photo: Mekong at Phnom Penh

Covering an area of 181,035 square kilometres Cambodia is about half the size of Germany. In the West the country is bordered by Thailand, in the North by Laos and in the East by Vietnam.

By far the most important river of Cambodia is the Mekong, which passes through the country for about 500 kilometres in a northsoutherly direction. The Mekong is passable for ships from its delta in Vietnam until Phnom Penh.

Southeast Asia’s largest lake, Tonle Sap, is in Cambodia and is connected to the Mekong by a short river, also called Tonle Sap. For most of the time this river flows from lake Tonle Sap into the Mekong. However, during the Southeast Asian rainy season from June to October when the Mekong drains large areas of Southeast Asia, the Tonle Sap river flows from the Mekong back into lake Tonle Sap thus causing enormous floods in the area surrounding the lake. During this time, lake Tonle Sap can swell to more than twice its regular size.

Central Cambodia is a fertile plain. Mountain ranges in the shape of a semicircle form a natural boundary with Thailand. In the West are the Cardamon Mountains (designated after the spice of the same name), in the Southwest the Elephant Mountains and in the North the Dankret Mountain Range. The highest mountain in Cambodia is Phnom Aural in the Cardamon range, at a height of 1,813 metres.

To date these mountain ranges are comparatively densely covered with forest and are only sparsely populated. All three are still operating areas of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas.

The southern coastal strip has never been of importance for the Cambodian economy. It is separated from the central plain by difficult terrain. The Mekong has always been the economical conduit of Cambodia.

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Cambodia / Climate

bridge_in_battambang_cambodia

Bridge in Battambang

Just like the Thais the Cambodians distinguish three major seasons: the cold season from November to January, the hot season from February until April or May, and the rainy season from May or June to October. During the rainy season about four fifth of the total annual precipitation pour down upon the country.

Additional, editorially modified, material from Wikipedia:

climate
J F M A M J J A S O N D
7 3121
10 3222
40 3423
77 4024
134 3824
155 3624
171 3424
160 3226
224 3125
257 3024
127 3023
45 3022
temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: BBC Weather
Imperial conversion

Cambodia’s temperatures range from 10° to 38 °C (50° to 100 °F) and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to March. The country experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February.
It has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can raise up to 40 °C around April. The best months to visit Cambodia are November to January when temperatures and humidity are lower.
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Cambodia / Population

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Photo: Owning the largest lake of Southeast Asia, Tonle Sap, and having the region’s largest river, Mekong, crossing their country, Cambodians have always lived in close contact with water. Until today, houses are often built over water, either on stilts or floating in a river (see below).

According to Asiaweek’s issue of July 6, 1994, Cambodia at that time counted a population of 8.9 Millions. This makes Cambodia the second smallest country in Southeast Asia in terms of population. Most other Southeast Asian countries outnumber the population of Cambodia several times: Indonesia with 191.1 Millions, Vietnam with 73 Millions, the Philippines with 65.6 Millions, Thailand with 59.5 Millions, Burma with 45 Millions and Malaysia with 19.4 Millions. Only Laos is less populated, with 4.5 Millions. By comparison, the city state of Singapore counts a population of around 3.1 Millions.

In 1975 Cambodia’s population numbered 7.2 Millions. During the fouryears reign of the Khmer Rouge the population dropped to around 6 Millions mostly due to the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge but also owing to starvation and migration of large numbers of people, especially ethnic Vietnamese.

The dominant ethnic group are the Khmer, about 85 % of the population. The remainder are mostly Vietnamese, along with around 100,000 ethnic Chinese, and some 100,000 Muslim Chams. A number of primitive tribes make the remainder.

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Photo: Houses on Mekong river, near Phnom Penh.

The Vietnamese presently still count for more than 5 %, maybe even as much as 10 % of the population. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge a large portion of Cambodia’s Vietnamese population fled to Vietnam but returned after the Vietnamese military invasion in 1979, along with further Vietnamese imigrants.

After the Khmer Rouge in 1993 attacked Cambodian families of Vietnamese origin and cruelly killed entire families, including women and children, at least 20,000 Cambodians of Vietnamese origin fled to Vietnam.

In Cambodia tensions between Khmer and ethnic Vietnamese have been the norm for centuries, and ethnic Vietnamese are poorly integrated into the Khmer population. Hatred of the Vietnamese and anything Vietnamese is the only emotion the Khmer Rouge can still incite in their countrymen.

Compared to the ethnic Vietnamese the ethnic Chinese are better integrated into the Khmer population.

Before the Khmer Rouge took power in April 1975 the Chinese, or Khmer families with Chinese ancestry, played an important part in the Cambodian economy and in politics. Lon Nol, the dictator who ruled Cambodia before the Khmer Rouge, had a Chinese grandparent.

During the reign of the Khmer Rouge the Chinese population of Cambodia, too, suffered excessively, and many fled. Another wave of Cambodians of Chinese origin left the country after the Vietnamese military invasion in 1979 when relations between Vietnam and China were anything but good.

In the middle of the 90’s the Chinese part of the Cambodian population was estimated at about 100,000, equalling slightly less than 1 %.

The number of remaining Chams is also around 100,000 (before Pol Pot’s rule there had been twice as many). The Chams had for several centuries settled in the territory north of Phnom Penh but originally they were from the Danang area in presentday Vietnam. Until the 15th century the kingdom of Champa, centered near presentday Danang, ruled the trade route between China and Southeast Asia.

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Subsequently, the Chams were pushed farther and farther to the South and West by the more numerous Vietnamese (Annamese). During the time of the decline of the realm of Angkor they settled in the territory of presentday Cambodia.

In the 17th century, after the Khmer king Chan converted to Islam and invited Malay Muslims into Cambodia, most Cham embraced Islam. The influence of Malay Muslims can be recognized today in many Cham customs, including the way they dress.

Only small numbers of ethnic Thais and Laotians live in Cambodia today. Their settlement areas are restricted to the western Cambodian town of Battambang and the respective border areas. One reason for the low penetration of Cambodia from these two neighbouring countries is the topography of the border regions with Thailand and Laos. While there are no natural boundaries between Cambodia and South Vietnam (the region is one geographic entity) the borders with Laos and Thailand clearly follow the mountain ranges.

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Statistical Details

After 25 years of civil war Cambodia’s number of illiterates is among the highest worldwide. According to a report in Asiaweek of July 6, 1994, about 65 % of the Cambodian population above the age of 15 can neither read nor write.

Higher percentages of illiterates in Asia are only found in Afghanistan (more than 70 %) and in Nepal (almost 75 %). By comparison, in Thailand the number of illiterates above the age of 15 is 7 %, in Vietnam 12 %.

Infant mortality (death within the first year of life) in Cambodia is 111 per 1,000 live births, only surpassed by Bhutan (129) and Afghanistan (164). In Thailand it is only 26, in Vietnam 37, in Germany at 6 and in Japan at 4.

The average life expectancy in Cambodia is 51 years. In Asia it is lower only in Afghanistan (43 years). In Thailand it is 69 years, in Vietnam 64, in Germany 76 and in Japan 79 years.

In Cambodia there is one physician per 16,365 people. Only Nepal is worse off with 16,830 people per doctor. In Thailand there is one doctor per 4,361 people, in Vietnam per 2,857. In Germany there is one physician per 333 people, in Italy even per 210 people.

Cambodia is top of the list in its lack of telephones. 1,212 persons share one phone. In well provided Thailand it is only 26.3, in Vietnam 386 people per telephone. In Germany statistically 1.8 persons share one phone, in Switzerland only 1.1 persons.

Additional, editorially modified, material from Wikipedia:

Ethnicity

87% Khmer
4.3% Vietnamese
4% Chinese
2.3% Cham
0.3% Thai
0.1% Eurasian
2% Other
Civil war and its aftermath have had a marked effect on the Cambodian population. The median age is 20.6 years, with more than 50% of the population younger than 25. At 0.95 males/female, Cambodia has the most female-biased sex ratio in the Greater Mekong Subregion. In the Cambodian population over 65, the female to male ratio is 1.6:1. UNICEF has designated Cambodia the third most mined country in the world, attributing over 60,000 civilian deaths and thousands more maimed or injured since 1970 to the unexploded land mines left behind in rural areas. The majority of the victims are children herding animals or playing in the fields. Adults that survive landmines often require amputation of one or more limbs and have to resort to begging for survival. In 2006, the number of landmines casualties in Cambodia took a sharp decrease of more than 50% compared to 2005, with the number of landmines victims down from 800 in 2005 to less than 400 in 2006. The reduced casualty rate continued in 2007, with 208 casualties (38 killed and 170 injured).”

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Cambodia / Economic Data

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The gross national product (GNP) per capita in Cambodia is US $ 1,266 per year. This figure has been arrived at by a new system of measuring, used by international organizations like the World Bank.

Using the old method, the GNP of a country was initially calculated in the national currency and the resulting figure converted into US Dollars at exchange rates prevailing among banks.

But who in the world wants Cambodian Riel?

The new system of measuring works differently. Percapita GNP is not expressed in currency, but in buying potential.

This means: the accumulated percapita GNP in Cambodia equals a buying potential sufficient for a certain amount of rice, meat, washing powder, etc. The US dollar figure expresses what the same basket of goods would cost in the US, or in worldwide average.

While average percapita GNP in Cambodia is US $ 1,266, it is US $ 5,665 in Thailand; in Vietnam it is lower than in Cambodia, US $ 1,263. In Afghanistan it is even lower at US $ 760, and in Burma it’s a meagre US $ 676 per year barely more than half of the Cambodian figure.

This does not necessarily mean that the average Cambodian is economically better off than the average Vietnamese. For in Cambodia, a substantial part of percapita GNP is still spent for war material. Today’s Cambodians also start business at a lower level of percapita property, and furthermore, a substantial part of accumulated GNP is destroyed again and again by actions of war. The distribution of income may also be less equal in Cambodia than in Vietnam.

Fact is, the average Cambodian seems to be worse off than the average Vietnamese. A relevant point of reference here average life expectancy and medical provision rather than percapita GNP.

Percapita GNP, however, is a reference point for the natural resources of a country. Cambodia need not be a poor country, as shown by percapita GNP created under strenuous conditions. Cambodia owns large forests of the most precious woods and the most productive gem mines of the world (except diamonds). Much of the country is a fertile plain nurtured by one of the most powerful rivers of Asia, the Mekong.

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In fact, Cambodia could be a rich country. Its preconditions are several times better than those of Ethiopia, Turkey, Peru, Egypt, Afghanistan or Iraq. Though, in the absence of sufficient political stability, the economic growth potential cannot be realized.

Therefore, percapita GNP in Cambodia, based on buying potential, amounts to only US $ 1,266 per annum, while in Thailand it is US $ 5,665, in the Philippines US $ 2,440 and in China US $ 2,413. In comparison: percapita GNP, based on buying potential, is US $ 20,165 in Germany, and $ 22,595 in the US.

Additional, editorially modified, material from Wikipedia:

Final economic indicators for 2007 are not yet available. 2006 GDP was $7.265 billion (per capita GDP $513), with annual growth of 10.8%. Estimates for 2007 are for a GDP of $8.251 billion (per capita $571) and annual growth of 8.5%). Inflation for 2006 was 2.6%, and the current estimate for final 2007 inflation is 6.2%.

Per capita income is rapidly increasing, but is low compared with other countries in the region. Most rural households depend on agriculture and its related sub-sectors. Rice, fish, timber, garments and rubber are Cambodia’s major exports. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) reintroduced more than 750 traditional rice varieties to Cambodia from its rice seed bank in the Philippines (Jahn 2006,2007). These varieties had been collected in the 1960s. In 1987, the Australian government funded IRRI to assist Cambodia to improve its rice production. By 2000, Cambodia was once again self-sufficient in rice (Puckridge 2004, Fredenburg and Hill 1978).

The recovery of Cambodia’s economy slowed dramatically in 1997-98, due to the regional economic crisis, civil violence, and political infighting. Foreign investment and tourism also fell off drastically. Since then however, growth has been steady. In 1999, the first full year of peace in 30 years, progress was made on economic reforms and growth resumed at 5.0%. Despite severe flooding, GDP grew at 5.0% in 2000, 6.3% in 2001, and 5.2% in 2002. Tourism was Cambodia’s fastest growing industry, with arrivals increasing from 219,000 in 1997 to 1,055,000 in 2004. During 2003 and 2004 the growth rate remained steady at 5.0%, while in 2004 inflation was at 1.7% and exports at $1.6 billion US dollars. As of 2005, GDP per capita in PPP terms was $2,200, which ranked 178th (out of 233) countries.

The older population often lacks education, particularly in the countryside, which suffers from a lack of basic infrastructure. Fear of renewed political instability and corruption within the government discourage foreign investment and delay foreign aid, although there has been significant assistance from bilateral and multilateral donors. Donors pledged $504 m to the country in 2004, while the Asian Development Bank alone has provided $850m in loans, grants, and technical assistance.

The tourism industry is the country’s second-greatest source of hard currency after the textile industry. 50% of visitor arrivals are to Angkor, and most of the remainder to Phnom Penh. Other tourist destinations include Sihanoukville in the southeast which has several popular beaches, and the nearby area around Kampot including the Bokor Hill Station.

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Cambodia / History / Historical Eras: Early civilization

typical_cambodian_market_architecture

Around 4000 B.C. at what today is Samrong Sen at lake Tonle Sap a human society developed a remarkable level of civilization. As has been found in excavations, at that time, people already built houses on stilts, just like they still do today at lake Tonle Sap.

Additional, editorially modified, material from Wikipedia:

The first advanced civilizations in present-day Cambodia appeared in the 1st millennium AD. During the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries, the Indianised states of Funan and Chenla coalesced in what is now present-day Cambodia and southwestern Vietnam. These states, which are assumed by most scholars to have been Khmer, had close relations with China and Thailand. Their collapse was followed by the rise of the Khmer Empire, a civilization which flourished in the area from the 9th century to the 13th century.

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Cambodia / History / Historical Eras: Angkor

For centuries, the area around the Mekong delta and the Cambodian central plain were ruled by the Kingdom of Java (in today’s Indonesia). But in 802, Khmer prince Jayavarman II, who was born and raised at the court of the Javanese Sailendra Dynasty, declares the areas inhabited by Khmer independent from Java and thus founds the kingdom of Angkor. He is crowned as Devaraja (god king) by a Brahman priest. In the following years he moves his capital several times. Initially it was at Indrapura (east of Kampong Cham), then at Wat Phou (in today’s southern Laos) and finally at Rolous (near Angkor).

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Photo: At Angkor Thom, more than 11,000 relief figures tell the history of the Khmer people.

In 889 Yasovarman I becomes king of the Khmer. He starts the construction of Angkor, then named Yasodharapura. Yasovarmans reigns until the year 900.

In 1002 Suryavarman I usurps the throne. Under his rule, the kingdom of Angkor is extended into vast stretches of today’s Thailand and Laos.

In 1080, after Angkor had been conquered by the kingdom of Champa, a northern provincial Khmer governor declares himself king, assuming the name Jayavarman VI. He rules the new Khmer kingdom from his northern province.

In 1113 a nephew of Jayavarman VI is crowned king of the Khmer, choosing the new name Suryavarman II. During his long reign Angkor Wat is built.

In 1177 Angkor is again conquered by an army from Champa. Jayavarman VII, a cousin of Suryavarman II, becomes king in 1181 and subsequently conquers Vijaya, the capital of Champa (in today’s Vietnam). Under Jayavarman VII the Khmer territory reaches its largest extent ever. It covers practically all of today’s Thailand and Laos, and reaches into today’s Myanmar, Malaysia and Vietnam. Jayavarman VII converts from Hinduism to Buddhism and makes Buddhism the new national religion.

In 1200 construction of a new royal capital is started Angkor Thom. As this enormous construction depletes the resources of the Khmer realm, it suffers economical problems in the following years.

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Photo: Ta Prohm temple at Angkor; after the old capital was abandoned, the site was taken over by the jungle.

The following decades see the decline of Angkor. To the West Thai kingdoms become the dominant political powers; to the East Vietnamese kingdoms rise. As a small buffer state Cambodia in between the two, the kingdom of the Khmer alternatively depends on the Thais and the Vietnamese. In order to liberate themselves from the yoke of one conqueror they need the help of the other who then demands that the Khmer obey in compensation of their debts.

In 1432, after Thais once more conquered Angkor, the Khmer abandon their capital, leaving it to the jungle.

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Cambodia / History / Historical Eras: Colonial Times

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Photo: French colonial rule influenced Cambodian culture, even the cuisine of ordinary people.

On April 17, 1864, after being alternatively controlled by Thailand or Vietnam for more than 400 years, Cambodian King Norodom accepts for his country the status of a French protectorate. King Norodom expects the French to protect Cambodia from the neighbouring countries Siam (Thailand) and Vietnam.

However, the French protectors cannot prevent politically strong Siam from temporarily annexing western parts of the country, including the town of Battambang. Nevertheless, by recognizing French rule, King Norodom preempted moves of Siam and Vietnam to entirely divide his country between them. In past centuries the loss of territory to Vietnam had been more significant. The Mekong delta, or rather the entire presentday South Vietnam, had been settled by Cambodians until well into the 18th century.

In 1884, with the acknowledgment of King Norodom, Cambodia’s status is changed from protectorate to colony. The political influence of the French grows, and together with Vietnam and Laos, Cambodia becomes part of the Union Indochinois. In subsequent decades the French colonial masters install a European administrative system in Cambodia and improve the infrastructure of the country. Nevertheless, the economical development of the French Union Indochinois does not reach the extent of Burma’s or India’s development under British rule.

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Photo: Phnom Penh’s Psah Thmay Market (New Market), built 1927 by the French, in Art Deco style.

In September 1940 , after France is invaded by Germany, Japanese troops occupy Indochina without meeting any resistance.

Officially the word is that the French colonial power leaves all military installation for the Japanese troops to use; in exchange the French colonial administration remains in office. Therefore the years of World War II bring less destruction to Cambodia than, for instance, to the fiercely contested Southeast Asian states of Burma and the Philippines.

In 1941 the French colonial masters proclaim 18-year-old Prince Norodom Sihanouk king of Cambodia, expecting to be able to easily control the politically inexperienced youth.

In March 1945 the Japanese military remove the French colonial administration and force young King Norodom Sihanouk to proclaim the independence of his country.

In East Asia, World War II ends August 14, 1945, with the capitulation of Japan. Subsequently, France tries to reestablish herself as colonial power in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

In 1946 King Norodom Sihanouk demands independence for his country from France. The French colonial masters respond by abolishing the absolute monarchy in Cambodia and by restricting the position of the king to representative status. A national assembly is elected.

In 1952 King Norodom Sihanouk enters self-elected exile, announcing he would return to Cambodia only when the country is independent.

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Cambodia / History / Historical Eras: Independence

On November 9, 1953, France releases Cambodia into independence and King Norodom Sihanouk returns.

In 1955, in order to free himself from the restrictions set for the king by the Cambodian constitution, Norodom Sihanouk abdicates in favour of his father, Norodom Suramarit, and enters politics. In successive elections, in 1955, 1958, 1962 and 1966, the party of Norodom Sihanouk wins every seat in parliament.

In March 1969 American planes start bombing Cambodia to interrupt the supply trails of the Vietcong. The bombardments last until 1973.

In 1970, while Norodom Sihanouk is in Moscow on a state visit, Marshal Lon Nol stages a coup d’etat in Phnom Penh. Lon Nol abolishes the monarchy and declares Cambodia a republic. Norodom Sihanouk chooses to stay in Peking, presiding over a governmentinexile. The Khmer Rouge are part of it. During the following years, the Khmer Rouge conquer more and more regions of Cambodia, until finally only Phnom Penh remains under the control of the Lon Nol government.

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Photo: Khmer Rouge guards transport a prisoner to an interrogation and torture room – Painting at Tuol Sleng Museum, the former torture prison of the Khmer Rouge in Phnom Penh.

On April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge march into Phnom Penh. Within a few days, the execute a large number of Cambodians formerly connected to the Lon Nol regime. More than 2 Million inhabitants of Phnom Penh are forced out of the city and moved to provincial labour camps. Phnom Penh becomes a ghost town. The economy of the entire country is transformed along radical Communist lines, money is simply abolished. The consequences include famine and epidemics.

Within the following 44 months more than a Million Cambodians fall victim to the Khmer Rouge rule of terror. Refugees who make it to Thailand report atrocities of the worst kind: executions of children, only because they were not born of peasant families or of Vietnamese or Chinese origin. Whosoever was suspected of being educated, or to be a member of a merchant family, was murdered: clubbed to death, not shot, in order to save ammunition.

On December 25, 1978, after a series of transgressions at the CambodianVietnamese border, the Vietnamese army invades Cambodia. On January 7, 1979, Vietnamese troops occupy Phnom Penh. A Vietnamfriendly government is installed, Heng Samrin, a Khmer Rouge guerrilla who earlier had fled to Vietnam, is proclaimed president. The new Cambodian government is not recognized by Western countries.

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Photo: Tombstone for 166 victims of the Khmer Rouge reign.

In 1982, three Cambodian resistance groups, the Khmer Rouge, the National Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC) of Prince Sihanouk, and the anticommunist Khmer People’s National Liberation Front of former PM Son Sann, form a coalition aiming to expel the Vietnamese occupation forces.

In 1989 the Vietnamese troops retreat from Cambodia. On October 23, 1991, the government previously installed in Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese, together with the resistance coalition, among them the Khmer Rouge, sign a peace treaty in Paris. Three weeks later, on November 14, 1991, Prince Sihanouk returns to Phnom Penh. The population of the capital receives him enthusiastically.

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FUNCINPEC party headquarters in Cambodia

In 1992 the United Nations Transitory Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) take over the government and the administration of the country. The Khmer Rouge do not adhere to the Paris agreement which stipulates that warring factions lay down their arms.

On May 23, 1993, in elections for a constitutional assembly, supervised by the UN, FUNCINPEC wins 45 % of the votes, the Cambodian People’s Party of the government installed by the Vietnamese achieves 38 %. FUNCINPEC and CPP agree to form a coalition government.

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Cambodia / Celebrations and Holidays

alain_delon_a_common_cigarette_brand_in_cambodia

January or February – Chinese and Vietnamese New Year; it is celebrated principally by the Chinese and Vietnamese minorities, but cause for many shops to be closed. The celebration is flexible in date as it is determined by the lunar calendar.

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Photo: Devotional items on sale before Buddhist holidays.

January – Commemoration Day of the last sermon of the Buddha; date determined by the lunar calendar.

January 7 – national holiday in commemoration of the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

March 8 – Women’s Day; national holiday with parades.

April – Chaul Chhnam; traditional Cambodian New Year, equalling Songkran in Thailand; the celebrations last for three days during which Cambodians douse each other liberally with water; exact date determined by the lunar calendar.

April – Visak Bauchea; commemoration of the birth and the first sermon of the Buddha; exact date determined by the lunar calendar.

April 17 – Independence Day; national holiday in commemoration of the fall of the Lon Nol dictatorship on April 17, 1975.

May 1- Labour Day

June 19 – Memorial Day of the founding of the revolutionary forces of Cambodia in 1951; parades in Phnom Penh.

June 28 – Memorial Day of the founding of the Revolutionary People’s Party of Cambodia in 1951; parades and celebrations in Phnom Penh.

July – beginning of the Buddhist Lent; the exact date depends on the lunar calendar. The day is preferred by Cambodian and Buddhist men of neighbouring countries for becoming monks, mostly on a temporary basis.

September – the day of the final celebrations of the Buddhist Lent; exact date determined by the lunar calendar.

September – Prachum Ben; a kind of Cambodian All-Saints-Day in commemoration of the dead and ancestors; exact date determined by the lunar calendar.

October and November – Water Festival; this festival celebrates the turn of the current of the Tonle Sap river. The Tonle Sap river connects lake Tonle Sap with the Mekong. For most of the time the river flows from lake Tonle Sap into the Mekong. However, during the rainy season from about June to October the Mekong carries a high water level, and in response the Tonle Sap river flows in reverse direction, from the Mekong back into lake Tonle Sap. This causes lake Tonle Sap 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 the water added to lake Tonle Sap during the rainy season flows back into the Mekong.

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