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Top 10 Amazing Facts About Cambodia

10. Street Food is an Adventure Sport
Traditional food consists mostly of fish and rice, but street food is a free-for-all. We’re not talking dodgy hot dogs, either. More like a bevy of spiders, locusts, crickets and, a delicacy, the tarantula kebab. Think that’s not “exotic” enough? How about the one thing your local food truck has been missing, termite eggs? Cambodians don’t hold back when it comes to protein options, they’ll fry, barbecue, and stir in just about anything. Other popular dishes include Chha Kuy Teav, a Khmer version of a stir-fried flat noodle; Num Sakoo, a tapioca ball stuffed with meat; and Babor Skor Bot, a corn-based pudding that features sweet rice and coconut milk. Need something to wash that all down with? Locals might suggest Teuk Ampau, a sugar cane juice extract; Golden Muscle Wine, a liquor made from deer antlers and Chinese herbs; or Te Kroch Chhma, Cambodia's version of lemon iced tea. We want to know, are you brave enough to try any of these Cambodian dishes?


9. Land Mines
During Cambodia's Civil War in the 1970's, millions of landmines were planted all over the small country. As a result, Cambodia has the most amputees in the world caused by landmines, and more than 60,000 reported casualties related to them since the late 1970s. So many, that the country started a landmine removal trust which still operates today. It works to help in the removal of landmines to make the territory safer for civilians, mainly kids, who often fall victim to these mines while they are out playing. Still, an estimated half of the country’s landmines are still active today.

8. Cambodia Dresses You
The garment and footwear sector employes over 600,000 of the country’s citizens and 86% of its factory workers. It’s one of the top industries in the economy, bringing in around 40% of its GDP. This doesn’t particularly mean that the locals are fashionistas. In fact, the garments are largely bought by the United States, which is why the tag on a large number of your clothing says “Made in Cambodia”. This is because the country has strived to keep production prices low, controversially low, to compete with neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam who also excel at the confection and tailoring of clothing.

7. A Teenage Population
Have you ever thought about what would happen if all Generation Z moved to one country and left everyone else behind? Maybe it would look like something straight out of Lord of the Flies. Or maybe it might look a little like Cambodia. Cambodia is one of the youngest countries in the world when it comes to their population. The reason is far from glamorous, however. The Cambodian Communist party, known as the Khmer Rouge, killed a huge part of their population during their rule. So, naturally, when they lost power in the late 1970s, the country celebrated and that led to a large baby boom. Now, half the population of the nation is less than 15 years old, and around 16% of the country is under 30! This makes their birth rate three times higher than their death rate.

6. The Prime Minister is Young Too
If you have a country full of young people you can’t have a 70-year-old leading the nation. Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, who came to power in 1998, became one of the world’s youngest head of state at the age of 32 years old. You would think that this would make him the “cool PM,” kind of like Justin Trudeau, but unfortunately, he quickly became known for maintaining his position using oppression and violence. He was even quoted saying, about possible protesters against his rule, “I will beat all those dogs and put them in a cage.”

5. Inventions and Famous People
Although Cambodia is stereotyped as being a poor and corrupt country, they still have brought the world many historical people and inventions. Designed by local innovator Nhean Phaloek, the Angkor car is an electric-powered car known for being both sleek and compact, as well as affordable at less than $10,000. Local companies also figured out a way to recycle cooking oil into useful biodiesel. Famous people include Rithy Panh, film director and screenwriter; Vann Nath, painter, artist, writer, human rights activist; and professional Tennis player, Patricia Hy-Boulais. For YouTube personnel, be sure to check out the likes of Rasmey Hang Meas, KH Daily, Cambodia Wilderness Channel, and CJ Cambotar Chord.

4. The Struggle is Riel
Can you imagine if we used two sets of currencies in the United States? Pay for lunch with two euros and your coffee with a dollar? Sounds impossible! Well, like a few other countries in the world, Cambodia uses the US dollar for a lot of their transactions. This isn’t to say that they have no currency of their own. The currency in Cambodia is called the Riel, and the exchange rate is about 4,000 per dollar. Any purchases made for under a dollar will be made in Riel, and anything above in dollars. They’re a country which regularly mixes and matches currency flawlessly. The struggle is Riel! You’d think it gets confusing but it’s the way it is in daily life of a Cambodian.

3. Tourist Attractions
Angkor Wat, located in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap, is the biggest religious complex in the world. It’s a Hindu temple to the god Vishnu but was later turned into a Buddhist temple. The ground ruins are over 500 acres big, which means Machu Pichu would fit inside it roughly fifty times! It only recently became a large tourist destination in the past 25 years or so. In 1993, there were less than 10,000 visitors, but by 2013, over two million people were visiting the site per year. Tourism has led to a few things, including increased funds for maintenance, mainly due to unwelcomed graffiti. Other AMAZING tourist attractions native to Cambodia include the Bayon Temple, Banteay Srei, Koh Ker, Silver Pagoda, Sihanoukville, and Preah Vihear.

2. A Two-Way River
A very rare phenomena in the world, Cambodia holds one of the only rivers that flows in two different directions. We’re not even saying one goes East and one goes West after a fork. That’s just boring. No, The Tonle Sap river in Cambodia actually changes direction in flow between monsoon and dry season. This means that between November and May, during the dry season, the Tonle Sap river drains into the Mekong River. However, when the waters start flowing during monsoon season, the River will actually turn around and come back to the lake!


1. Say My Name
I’ve thought long and hard and decided this here country will now be called The United States of Jim. Think I’m crazy? Well, yes, but also, countries around the world have been known to make big changes like that, even recently. Sure, we call it Cambodia now, but over the past 50 years, Cambodia has changed its name 5 times! It’s gone from the Kingdom of Cambodia, to the Khmer Republic, Democratic Kampuchea, People's Republic of Kampuchea, the State of Cambodia, and, finally, back to the Kingdom of Cambodia. Phew, that’s a lot of changes for a people to remember. However, truth be told, less than half of their population saw all of these name changes, so we guess it's not that confusing for most.


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