Nestled between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia is in the heart of Southeast Asia. it’s mainly famous for its rich and vibrant culture ranging from mouth-watering dishes to breathtaking temples and religious sites. Beyond that, the country is also loaded with natural beauty and plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten path. Whether you’re planning to visit or are just curious, here are some interesting facts about Cambodia.
7 of the Most Interesting Facts About Cambodia
1. The size of Angkor Wat is staggering
Cambodia is famous around the world for its sprawling religious complex of temples known as Angkor Wat. In fact, it’s the largest religious complex is in the entire world. And not by a smidge, either. The grounds sprawl across more than 500 acres. To put that into perspective, it’s around 50 times larger than Machu Picchu.
2. It’s home to the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia
The Tonle Sap is responsible for the sustenance of almost half of Cambodia’s crops and serves as a prime fishing hub for the country. Not only is it a crucial habitat for Cambodia, it’s also the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia at nearly 3,000 square km and a popular tourist spot.
3. There are 19 indigenous languages
Across the whole of Cambodia there are 19 indigenous languages. They range from Malayo-Polynesian to Mon-Khmer language families and speak to the rich diversity of the nation. However, despite there being over a dozen languages spoken, there is only one official language, Khmer, which is spoken by about 97% of Cambodians.
4. Cambodia is nearly mono-religious
Buddhism is the official religion of Cambodia and it’s not without reason. In fact, it’s estimated that 95% of the population are practising Buddhists. Majority of the holidays on the Cambodian calendar are Buddhist in origin and the religion has been practised here since at least the 5th century. And of course, nothing proves Cambodia’s love for Buddhism more than the spectacular Angkor Wat.
5. It has an interesting flag
A single bright red stripe framed by deep blue with Angkor Wat in the centre gives the Cambodian flag an interesting status – the only flag in the world with a building. Over the years, the flag has changed several times but has always born the county’s most proud symbol, the world-famous religious complex that’s synonymous with Cambodian culture.
6. Cambodians celebrate the New Year in April
In keeping with the Buddhist calendar, the New Year is celebrated in spring rather than winter. The Khmer New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey, coincides with the solar calendar and marks the end of the harvest season. The New Year is the most important festival of the year and the celebrations are comparable to the Songkran festivals held in Myanmar and Thailand.
7. Tourism is a major source of revenue for Cambodia
Followed closely after Cambodian textiles, tourism is the nation’s largest source of income. Prior to the pandemic, around 6.5 tourists visited Cambodia each year. This contributes more than 5 billion USD to the tourism sect alone. The most popular tourist attraction is of course Angkor Wat, however other hot contenders are the Royal Palace compound in Phnom Penh and the Tonle Sap.