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: 14,138,000
  • Life Expectancy: 63 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 61%
  • School Enrollment: 89%
  • Land Mass: 69,898 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 78%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 51/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 760

Facts about Cambodia

Economic Development

More than 30 percent of Cambodians live below the poverty line.

Food & Agriculture

Hunger still remains a problem in Cambodia. The World Food Programme estimates that almost 40 percent of children are malnourished.

Child Protection

Cambodia is a key transit and destination point in the global commercial sex trade. Each year, thousands of women and children are trafficked from Vietnam and China to work in brothels in Phnom Penh and other urban areas.

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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 2012.

  • Taught families how to plant gardens and raise animals, increasing the supply of nutritious food and generating income.

  • Trained farmers in modern rice cultivation methods so they can harvest multiple rice crops per year.

  • Upgraded wells and installed rainwater tanks to reduce waterborne illness.

  • Improved sanitation by helping communities build household latrines.

  • Strengthened the education system by holding refresher courses for teachers and training school management committees.

  • Installed culverts to divert rainwater and reduce flooding, making it easier for children to get to school safely during the rainy season.

  • Renovated schools to improve safety and provide a comfortable learning environment for children.

  • Expanded the market for local goods by educating farmers about marketing and helping them network with buyers.

  • Trained people living with HIV and AIDS in livestock production and gardening, improving their livelihoods and encouraging self-sufficiency.

  • Formed community organizations such as savings groups, which provide low-interest business loans for entrepreneurs.

  • Provided vocational training for community members.

  • Organized workshops to teach community members about the rights of women and children and raise awareness of child trafficking and domestic violence.

  • Children participated in an education and cultural program, enjoyed birthday cake, and received gifts such as notebooks, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, t-shirts, and/or school bags.

  • Partnered with local organizations to provide mosquito nets for children, helping control the spread of malaria and dengue fever.

  • Monitored children's health and helped sick children access treatment.

  • Organized support groups and community care coalitions for people living with HIV and AIDS.

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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 11,000 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Cambodia. Highlights include:

    • Improving access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, reducing the risk of disease and infection.
    • Ensuring children enroll in school by equipping schools to be child friendly and providing children with positive learning experiences.
    • Improving the quality of and access to healthcare, especially for mothers and children.
    • Protecting children through community programs targeting all forms of child abuse; domestic violence, sexual exploitation, forced labor and human trafficking.

    World Vision History in Cambodia

    World Vision began work in Cambodia in the early 1970s with community assistance with 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. We 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 one hundred 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

    • The recovery of families affected by floods and other disasters.
    • Protection, care, and improved nutrition for vulnerable children.