The population of Cambodia is 14,131,858 (2007 estimate). Population growth per year is estimated at 1.8 percent, one of the highest rates in Asia. The rate of infant mortality is also high. The population density is 80 persons per sq km (207 per sq mi), with the densest concentrations on the heavily cultivated central plain. The mountainous regions of the country, where malaria is widespread, are thinly populated, as are the poorly watered northern provinces.
During the late 1970s, under the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge, all of Cambodia’s towns were depopulated, and residents were forcibly relocated to rural areas. A process of reurbanization began in the 1980s.
Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, is situated at the junction of the Mekong and Tônlé Sab rivers. Other major cities are Bãtdâmbâng, Kâmpóng Cham, Kâmpôt, and Cambodia’s only deep-water port, Kâmpóng Saôm, located on the Gulf of Thailand.
Ethnic Cambodians, or Khmer, constitute 90 percent of the population. About 5 percent of the country’s inhabitants are of Vietnamese origin, and 1 percent are Chinese. Seminomadic tribal groups concentrated in the mountainous northeast make up the remaining 4 percent of the population.
Cambodia’s official language is Khmer, or Cambodian, which belongs to the Mon-Khmer family of languages. French was formerly an important secondary language in the country, but English gained considerable ground in the 1990s. Other languages spoken include Vietnamese and an assortment of South Chinese dialects.
At least 85 percent of Cambodia’s inhabitants adhere to Theravada Buddhism, which is the dominant religion in most Southeast Asian nations. Buddhism originated in India in the 6th century bc and arrived in Cambodia during the first centuries ad. At first Mahayana Buddhism predominated, but after the 14th century Theravada gradually replaced the older school as the primary religion. Nevertheless, a minority of modern Cambodians still practices Mahayana Buddhism.
Other religions practiced in Cambodia include Roman Catholicism and Islam. "Cambodia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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