Cambodia's economic growth has picked up strongly in recent years. But agriculture remains an area of concern.



Phnom Penh

Offical Language

Khmer, English, French


181,035 km²


approx. 15.29 Million

Population growth

1.6 %

Rural Population

79.1 % of the overall population

Gross Domestic Product

26.63 Billion US Dollars

Annual Income per Capita

Approx.  1614 Dollars

Severity of hunger according to the World Hunger Index

serious (WHI: 22.8)

Human Development Index

Index: 0,581 / Rank: 146 von 189

Heavy legacy of the past

In the 20th century, Cambodia was repeatedly at the mercy of armed conflicts and regional and international power politics interests: Liberation from French colonial power and the Vietnam War were followed by the Cambodian Civil War and the Khmer Rouge reign of terror, which claimed an estimated 1.7 million lives. Vietnamese invading forces drove the Khmer Rouge out and occupied the country for ten years.

Since the Paris Peace Accords of 1991, Cambodia's parliamentary monarchy has formally developed into a democracy with regular elections. However, the legacy of authoritarian rule still weighs heavily today and corruption is widespread. Despite an increasingly competitive garment industry, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is heavily dependent on trade facilitation and the support of the international donor community, which contributes about half of the national budget. Between one third and one quarter of the population is affected by extreme poverty. 12 percent of all households have difficulties in obtaining sufficient food supplies.

Agriculture in transition

Due to civil war and economic isolation, Cambodia's economy could hardly develop until the early 1990s. Agriculture, once the dominant sector, now accounts for 30 percent of the gross domestic product and is second only to the service sector. Nevertheless: eight out of ten Cambodians live in rural areas. 45 percent of the more than 8 million people in employment work in agriculture. However, it contributes only 0.5 percent to the high economic growth.

Alongside wood, silk, manioc, cashew nuts, vegetables, corn and rubber, rice is the most important agricultural product. Traditionally, farmers in the Mekong river delta flood their fields to irrigate the grain. But rice cultivation is endangered. Cambodia is already feeling the effects of climate change: lack of rain or flooding, hurricanes and heat waves, and increasingly salty soil due to rising sea levels are tragic realities. Agricultural land is being lost and harvests are failing. The poor rice harvests cause farmers to lose income and food reserves for their families. And the crop failures also have a global impact: A fifth of the world's rice exports come from the Cambodian and Vietnamese Mekong Delta. The pressure on prices, availability and quality of grain is growing. Poor people are particularly affected, for whom rice is often the only available and affordable form of food.


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