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Cambodia 2023



Phnom Penh’s many Buddhist monasteries and temples, or wats, are centers of meditation, scholarship, and quiet worship, where monks and nuns pray on behalf of the people. In addition to the study of Buddhist principles and history, scholars also focus on the study and preservation of the history and language of the Khmer, the indigenous people of Cambodia, who comprise more that 90% of Cambodia’s population.

Harlen Persinger © 2013


Kingdom of Cambodia

Southeast Asia

Area 70K mi2; 181K km2

Arable 23%

Population 17M (243/mi²; 94/km²)

Gov’t Parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Capital Phnom Penh (2.3M)

GCP/Capita $4,200

Unemployment 0.3% (note: high underemployment, according to official statistics)

In Poverty 17%

Infant Mortality 30/1K live births (54th)

Life expectancy 71 yrs

Median Age 26 yrs

Literacy 81%

Languages Khmer (official), minority languages, Chinese, Vietnamese, other

Religions Buddhist (official) 97%, Muslim 2%, other 1%

Health 7% of GDP

Education 2% of GDP (175th)

Military 3% of GDP (38th)

Labor Force Agriculture 49%, industry 20%, services 31%

PCVs 2007-present CURRENT: 0, TTD: 706

Adult Books

Music of the Ghosts
By Vaddey Ratner

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Touchstone (2017)
ISBN-10: 1476795789, 1476795797
ISBN-13: 978-1476795782, 978-476795799, 978-1476795805

Returning to Phnom Penh many years after fleeing Cambodia as a child, Teera traces links to her father, whose arrest and disappearance into a Khmer Rouge prison has always haunted her. Along the way, she comes to see her former home as a place where victims and perpetrators live together in the shadow of their tragic past, but also as a land where beauty, hope, and forgiveness hold the promise of renewal.

“This tenaciously melodic novel explores art and war as an orphaned Cambodian refugee travels from her new home in Minneapolis to the Buddhist temple where her father was raised by monks, hoping against hope that he is still alive. The author discerns the poetic even in brutal landscapes and histories.” (New York Times)

“As the title suggests, the songs and stories of ghosts fill the pages of this novel. Ratner, who lived through the rule of the Khmer Rouge herself, weaves a moving tale of hope and heartbreak that will accompany readers long after they finish the last page.” (Publishers Weekly, February 6, 2017)

“Music of the Ghosts is a moving and often gripping exploration of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime and its aftermath. Ratner relentlessly shows the devastating impact of traumatic history on families and the nation, but leaves us with a carefully measured hope for insight and renewal.” (Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and winner of the Pulitzer Prize)

Kids' Books

Dara’s Clever Trap: A Tale from Cambodia (Princess Stories)
Adapted by Liz Flanagan, illustrated by Martina Peluso

Format: 46 pages, color illus
ISBN-10: 1782851038
ISBN-13: 978-1782858379
Age Range: 6-9 years
Publisher: Concord, MA: Barefoot Books, 2019

Princess Dara must prove that her father's wicked ministers have set up her husband for a crime he is innocent of.

Gr 1–3—Princess stories for emerging readers are high in demand, and refreshingly, this new series features a diverse cast of princesses from around the world. Dara's Clever Trap, set in Cambodia, is the standout title. Princess Dara is an architect and falls in love with another architect, Rith. Evil arises from the jealous ministers who frame her husband and try to marry her for her riches. Using her problem-solving skills, Dara creates a mechanical trap that saves the day. The clearly written and easy-to-follow plot makes this story a wonderful choice for struggling readers, with the added bonus of STEM themes. The chapter-book length will also appeal to readers who are ready to move into longer books. Digitally rendered illustrations, enhanced with a warm palette and deft shading, support the text and aid in comprehension. ... Dara's Clever Trap is a solid choice for classroom or school libraries. —Sara Lissa Paulson / School Library Journal


Film: Fathers
Genre: Drama
Director: Huy Yaleng
Country: Cambodia
Release Date: 2020
Filming Locations: AnPhnom Phen, Cambodia
Language: Khmer
Run Time: 110 minutes

Having lost a leg, a man lives on his cyclo-trishaw, which he drives to provide for his children, after his wife abandons them. Based on a true story.

In October 2020, the film was selected to represent Cambodia in the Best International Feature category at the 2021 Oscars

Though full of cliches, it’s a good production and story of a struggling, poor father. It was very popular in Cambodia, and was Cambodia’s entry for the Academy Awards—though not nominated. Free on youtube, with subtitles.

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