Cambodia is a developing country. Particularly in rural areas most of the population lives below the poverty line. They live without electricity, have no running water and have limited access to medical care. Wars and the unstable political history have caused Cambodia’s economy fall into neglect.
Oppression of the Khmer Rouge
Cambodia has a long history of oppression, fear, death and violence. During the power of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge a quarter of the population, approximately 2 million people, was murdered. In 1979, the civil war finally came to an end. This war had completely ruined the economy of Cambodia and the population was traumatized for life.
Cambodia is more than 4 times larger than The Netherlands. Cambodia has 14.5 million inhabitants of which 75% is younger than 30 years and of this 75%, 50% is even younger than 18 years. The average life expectancy is now 62 years. More than a third of the population is illiterate and the average income lies between $0.50 and $2.50 per day.
Cambodia is an agricultural country; 90% of the population works in agriculture or in the fishing industry; modern agricultural methods have not yet been introduced. Hundreds of thousands women work in textile factories to produce quite expensive Western brand clothing for a salary of only $45 per month. Tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the last few years. Unfortunately, with the opening of the country and easier accessibility also sex tourism, drug trafficking and gambling have been growing industires. Despite the growth in tourism the Government stands for a major challenge. The largest share of the budget is still being paid by foreign aid and the political instability and corruption keep many foreign investors away. Also the lack of schooling and the almost total absence of any rural infrastructure is allready causing many difficulties.
Although it looks like the political situation has been reasonably stabilized now, the Cambodians are facing diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria. Cambodia has the highest percentage of HIV-seropositives in all of Southeast Asia.