Cambodia in 1982


Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire, ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863, and it became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In April 1975, after a seven-year struggle, communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off 20 years of civil war.

The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a cease-fire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders were tried for crimes against humanity by a hybrid UN-Cambodian tribunal supported by international assistance.

181,300 km2; 16% cultivated, 74% forested, 10% built-on area, wasteland, and other

Land boundaries: 2,438 km

Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 12 nm (economic including fishing 200 nm)

Coastline: about 443 km


Population: 5,882,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 1.9%

Nationality: noun—Kampuchean(s); adjective—Kampuchean

Ethnic divisions: 90% Khmer (Kampuchean), 5% Chinese, 5% other minorities

Religion: 95% Theravada Buddhism, 5% various other

Language: Cambodian


Official name: Democratic Kampuchea (supported by resistance forces deployed principally near the western border); People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK; pro-Vietnamese, in Phnom Penh)

Type: both are Communist states

Capital: Phnom Penh

Political subdivisions: 19 provinces

Legal system: Judicial Committee chosen by People’s Representative Assembly in Democratic Kampuchea; no information for PRK

National holiday: 17 April for both regimes

Branches: Cabinet, State Presidium, and some form of People’s Representative Assembly in Democratic Kampuchea; Peoples Revolutionary Council, various ministries, and a “National Congress” held in early 1979 and a second time in September 1979 in PRK

Government leaders: Presidium Chairman and Prime Minister KH1EU SAMPHAN; Deputy Prime Ministers IENG SARY and SON SEN; Assembly Standing Committee Chairman NUON CHEA in Democratic Kampuchea; Chairman, Council of State, HENG SAMRIN; Chairman, Council of Ministers, CHAN SI; Minister of National Defense BOU THANG; and Foreign Minister HUN SEN in PRK

Suffrage: universal over age 18

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Kampuchea Khmer Communist Party disbanded December 1981 though chief political figure still former party chairman Pol Pot; in PRK Kampuchean United Front for National Construction and Defense (KUFNCD) and separate Kampuchean Peoples Revolutionary Party

Member of: Colombo Plan, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, GATT (de facto), IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, ILO, IMCO, IMF, ITU, Mekong Committee (inactive), NAM, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTO for Democratic Kampuchea; none for PRK


GNP: less than $500 million (1971)

Agriculture: mainly subsistence except for rubber plantations; main crops—rice, rubber, corn; food shortages—rice, meat, vegetables, dairy products, sugar, flour

Major industries: rice milling, fishing, wood and wood products

Shortages: fossil fuels

Electric power: 120,000 kW capacity (1981); 100 million kWh produced (1981), 18 kWh per capita

Exports: probably less than $1 million est. (1978); natural rubber, rice, pepper, wood

Imports: probably less than $20 million (1978); food, fuel, machinery

Trade partners: (1978) exports—China; imports—China, North Korea; (1981) Vietnam and USSR

Aid: economic commitments—US (FY70-80), $690 million; other Western, (1970-79) $135 million; military (FY70-80)—US, $1,260 million; Communist not available

Budget: no budget data available since Communists took over government

Monetary conversion rate (1978): no currency in use

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 612 km meter gauge (1.00 m); government owned

Highways: 13,351 km total; 2,622 km bituminous, 7,105 km crushed stone, gravel, or improved earth; and 3,624 km unimproved earth; some roads in disrepair

Inland waterways: 3,700 km navigable all year to craft drawing 0.6 meters; 282 km navigable to craft drawing 1.8 meters

Ports: 2 major, 5 minor

Airfields: 52 total, 23 usable; 9 with permanent-surface runways; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 8 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: service barely adequate for government requirements and virtually nonexistent for general public; international service limited to Vietnam and other adjacent countries; radiobroadcasts limited to 1 station


Military manpower: males 15-49, 1,571,000; 843,000 fit for military service; 99,000 reach military age (18) annually

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