Cambodia, a land of cultural, Ethnic and financial extremes: Extreme poverty, extreme wealth and extreme culture. It has a hotchpotch of different people and cultures. More than 90% of its people are ethnic Khmer and speak Khmer as there first language. The remaining ethnic minorities are Chinese, Cham, Indian and Khmer Loeu. French is still spoken by some older Khmers as a second language (a remnant of its colonial past), but English now is rapidly becoming the preferred second language. In many tourist areas English is widely spoken. Most young people, you will find speak at least a little English and English is taught even in small village schools.
The dominant religion practiced in Cambodia is a form of Theravada Buddhism that account for 95% of the population. The other 5% is taken up by Muslims (3%) and Christians (2%). In general there would appear to be a peaceful co-existence between the groups.
Cambodia, in my opinion, has a wonderful climate with temperature ranges from 10’ to 38’C. It is never really cold, although the Khmers may dispute that, at anything below 15’C they will be dressing for ‘winter’. The Rainy season runs from May to October and temperatures can drop below 22’C with very high humidity.
The dry season is usually from November to April. Some effects of climate change have been obvious during my times in Cambodia. The best months to Cambodia are November to January, as the temperatures and humidity tend to be lower.
There are a wide variety of plant and animal life in Cambodia despite its recent intensive deforestation. 212 species of mammal, 536 types of bird and 240 reptiles. It also has 850 freshwater species of fish in the Tonle Sap and 435 marine species in the waters of Sihanoukville. Sadly the countries primary rain forest has fallen rapidly (and illegally) since 1970 and has fallen from over 70% to 3.1% in 2007. The forest reserves of Cambodia are under severe threat. Illegal logging is still prevalent.
The Khmer Rouge times severely damaged the countries infrastructure and transport system but Cambodia has been working hard to improve the highways that it has and things have improved since 2006 with many main road now being paved. The rail network is extremely poor and in a bad state of repair. Lines run from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, Sisophon and Battambang. Currently only one passenger train a week runs to Battambang.
Many former dirt roads are slowly being resurfaced with concrete or asphalt and some major river bridges have be built or replaced leading to Phnom Penh having an uninterrupted road access to Thailand at Koh Kong.
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