Cambodia sits on mainland Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand. One of Asia’s longest rivers, the Mekong, runs through the heart of the country. Lake Tonlé Sap lies in the west, along with mountains and a forested plain.

  • Population: 14,864,600
  • Life Expectancy: 72 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 67%
  • School Enrollment: 98%
  • Land Mass: 69,898 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 74%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 40/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 880

Facts about Cambodia

Economic Development

Cambodia is one of the pooorest countries in Southeast Asia. One-third of the population lives below the poverty line. Another third lives on less than $2 a day.

Food & Agriculture

Agriculture is Cambodia’s largest industry, but it suffers from a lack of infrastructure. This makes it more vulnerable to challenges like severe weather patterns and climate change.


Less than 50 percent of students complete primary school in Cambodia.

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Progress in Cambodia

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2014.

  • Demonstrating Christ’s love through our actions, we worked among children and families to promote peace and justice and encourage understanding.

  • Through savings groups, community members gained access to basic financial services and were empowered with small, affordable loans to start businesses and increase their incomes.

  • Farmers were trained in improved farming methods and learned how to raise poultry, equipping them to provide more nutritious food for their children and earn a living.

  • We established and trained volunteer village health support teams to promote maternal and child health and nutrition.

  • To reduce malnutrition, mothers were taught to prepare nutritious porridge for young children and community nutrition sessions were held to assist malnourished children.

  • We partnered with the Department of Education to train teachers in improved teaching methods, child-centered learning, and classroom management.

  • With our help, community volunteers organized Parent Teacher Associations to monitor and support schools, strengthen the quality of education, and raise awareness of the importance of education.

  • Through our children's groups, boys and girls had opportunities to become leaders in their communities, teach adults and other children about child rights and child protection, and monitor the health and education of other children.

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    World Vision in Cambodia Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Cambodia to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 9,000 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Cambodia. Highlights include:

    • Helping to increase year-round access to nutritious food for children and communities.
    • Caring for people and children affected by HIV and AIDS.
    • Enriching learning through the use of innovative and alternative classroom teaching methods and resources.
    • Facilitating the recovery of victims of abuse and protection of their rights through community-based and alternative forms of restorative care.

    World Vision History in Cambodia

    World Vision began work in Cambodia in the early 1970s with community assistance through medical supplies and the building of a national pediatrics hospital in 1974. World Vision was forced to abandon its work, including the hospital, when the Khmer Rouge took over in 1975. The organization returned in 1979. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Assisting Cambodia’s recovery after Pol Pot’s defeat by restoring social services and helping farmers recover and return to crop production in the late 1970s and into the 1980s.
    • Working to improve the health of children suffering from malnutrition, infectious diseases, and parasite infections during the late 1980s.
    • Improving hospital services during Cambodia’s recovery from civil war in the 1990s.
    • Focusing on HIV and AIDS prevention, microenterprise development, at-risk youth education, and food production since the beginning of the 21st century.
    • Providing relief supplies to people affected by Typhoon Ketsana in 2009.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Cambodia sits on mainland Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand. One of Asia’s longest rivers, the Mekong, runs through the heart of the country. Lake Tonlé Sap lies in the west, along with mountains and a forested plain.

    The tropical climate has very little temperature variation throughout the year. Natural resources include oil and gas, timber, gemstones, iron ore, phosphates, and hydropower.

    The Khmer people, a group that migrated from the north thousands of years ago, make up most of Cambodia’s population. Other ethnic groups include Chinese, Vietnamese, and Laotians. Most Cambodians speak the official language of Khmer, along with French and English.

    More than three-quarters of the population live in rural areas in traditional stilt houses. The stilts protect the homes from floodwaters in the rainy season and let air circulate to keep the house cool in the dry season.


    After almost 100 years under French control, Cambodia won its independence in 1953.

    Years later in 1975, the capital city of Phnom Penh fell to the communist group, Khmer Rouge. The group’s leader, Pol Pot, renamed the country Kampuchea and initiated a plan that abolished the currency, seized private property, and sent hundreds of thousands of residents to work camps and security centers.

    By the time Vietnamese forces removed Khmer Rouge in 1978, Pol Pot had killed an estimated 2 million people. A civil war between Vietnam and Khmer Rouge holdouts lasted through the 1980s. This conflict eroded the cultural, economic, and social life of the country. Cambodia returned to its original name in 1989.

    Negotiations for peace between the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian government continued through the 1990s and into the 2000s. Violence and debate accompanied government elections in the early 21st century, but government elections in the past few years have finally grown more peaceful.

    Prayer Requests for Cambodia

    • Please pray for protection and safety for children at risk of being trafficked, as well as the safe return of children who are missing.
    • Pray also for families who are still recovering from severe flooding in late 2013.