CAMBODIA is a country in Southeast Asia with a population of almost 15 million people, bordered by Laos to its northeast, Thailand to its west and northwest, and Vietnam to its east, the country has a long and tragic history, as well as a fascinating culture. The Khmer civilization left the amazing temple ruins at Angkor.
Phnom Penh being the capital city, Cambodia is the successor state of the once powerful Hindu and Buddhist Khmer Empire, which ruled most of the Indochinese Peninsula between the 11th and 14th centuries. Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhists of Khmer extraction, but the country also has a substantial number of predominantly Muslim Cham, as well as ethnic Chinese, Vietnamese and small animist hill tribes. In the south it faces the Gulf of Thailand with 443 km (275 miles) of coastline.
The geography of Cambodia is dominated by the Mekong river and the Tonlé Sap (“the fresh water lake”), an important source of fish. The low geography of Cambodia’s fertile areas means much of the country sits nearly below sea level, and consequently the Tonle Sap River reverses its water flow in the wet season, carrying water from the Mekong back into the Tonle Sap Lake and surrounding flood plain. In 2005, oil and natural gas deposits were found beneath Cambodia’s territorial water, and once commercial extraction begins in 2009 or early 2010, the oil revenues could have a profound impact on the future of Cambodia’s economy.
In recent years superyachts have expressed an interest in cruising this uniquely beautiful, culture rich and historic country but due to regulatory and other issues, have been unable to successfully enter the country. This situation may change in the future. Of interest would be an overland tour to the lost city of Angkor Wat, which is the finest example of Khmer architecture in existence with its 100 magnificent temples, now a UNESCO Heritage site. Built to honour the Hindu god Vishnu, Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious complex, taking nearly 40 years to complete and using the manpower of some 50,000 artisans, workers and slaves.