LOVELACES // Serving in CAMBODIA

History

Cambodia was once known as the jewel of Southeast Asia but this beautiful country has experienced a tumultuous history over the past 30 years.  Because of it's location between Vietnam and Thailand, Cambodia experienced the fallout of the war between the US and their neighbor to the east, Vietnam, in the 60's and 70's.  Millions of tons of bombs were dropped indiscriminately on this once prosperous nation. 

Then in 1975 an extremist communist party, the Khmer Rouge, came to power in Cambodia.  Many in Cambodia believed this would be the start of a new, better era where the country would be run by their own people.  What the Cambodian people didn't realize was that the Khmer Rouge sought to return Cambodia to a completely agrarian society, void of any western influence, through genocide and elimination of all family ties.  Children were torn from their parents and sent to work at camps while hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were tortured, killed and tossed into mass graves.  Cities were evacuated.  Anyone believed to be wealthy, educated, or religious were targeted... many were killed just for wearing eyeglasses. Within only four years, conservative estimates believe over 2 million Cambodians had died from genocide, forced labor or starvation. 

Facts

  • Literacy:  73.9%
  • Population:  15,458,332
  • Official Language:  Khmer
  • Median Age:  24.1 
  • Religion:  Theravada Buddhist  96%, Muslim 2%, Other 2%
  • Currency:  Riel  (Exchange rate - approx 4000 Riel to 1 US Dollar)
  • GDP per capita: $2600/year
  • Area:  69,898 sq mi  -- Similar to the size of Missouri  (69,704 sq mi)
  • Location:  Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos
  • Climate:  Tropical; rainy, monsoon season (May to November); dry season (December to April); little temperature variation 

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