Hey Geograpeeps! So this episode is gonna have some bad audio because I’m currently in my parent’s basement filming this, not at the youtube space and, eh, the microphone we typically use doesn’t fit into the audio jack in my camera. So, just bear with me, and we’re gonna basically go back to the quality of Afghanistan. ♫ Piano ♫ ♫ It’s time to learn geography… NOW!!! Hey everybody, I’m your host Barby. This is our FIRST country with the letter “C,” Cambodia! And basically Cambodia had a relatively normal life until 4 really messed up years kinda ruined everything for them. But before we talk about that, let’s dissect the flag. ♫ Slot Machine Noise ♫ ♫ Cling Sound Effect ♫ The flag is pretty simple and conveniently symbolic. There are 3 bands, two blue on the top and bottom, and red in the middle. In the center, you have a picture of the temple of Angkor Wat, A symbolic, country defining icon of Cambodia. Blue is a traditional color of royalty, and red represents the Cambodian people. The white of Angkor Wat symbolizes the spirituality of Cambodia, as it is a heavily Buddhist nation. Keep in mind, this was actually the original flag from 1948, before a lot of crazy stuff happened, a bunch of other flags ensued, until they finally came back to this one. Ok, now let’s talk about all that craziness, shall we? ♫ Sound Effects ♫ Ehhh, no clever antidote, let’s just jump into it this time. Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia bordered by Thailand to the west, Laos to the north, and Vietnam to the east, and the Bay of Thailand to the south. The country is divided into 25 provinces, and the capital is Phnom Penh, That’s right people, it’s pronounced “Pa-Nom” Pen, not “Fa-nom” Pen or “Nom” Pen. Phnom Penh, formerly named “Chaktomuk,” is actually very conviniently located in the country because it’s where the Mekong, the Lower Mekong, the Bassac, and the Sap rivers all converge into one point. This is also where the royal family lives and is a bustling city overtaken by mopeds, bicycles and roads, with no stop signs, making traffic a free-for-all. Should I signal??? SHOULD I SIGNAL??? Wait? Who cares? GOOD LUCK EVERYBODY ELSE! Off the coast, without including the small islets and rocks, Cambodia has over 80 main islands that they have sovereignty over, most of which are close to the coast, easily accessible, some of you can even see from beaches, like Snake Island, visible from the interestingly named “Hawaii Beach.” The furthest of these islands and the southernmost point of Cambodia is the Koh Poulo Wai Islands which were originally just used for military bases, but are now open to the public for tourists. Now, for the longest time, Cambodia was actually split kind of east and west by the Mekong river and the only way to get across was either by ferry or to fly. In 2001, they opened their first bridge across the Mekong River, the Kizuna Bridge, funded by the Japanese Government. and finally it joined the two parts of Cambodia by road for the first time. Since then, 3 more have been built, and more are projected to come in the future. now of course, when going into Cambodia, the landmark that pops up into everybody’s mind immediately is Angkor Wat, the ancient ruins of the Khmer empire. The town nearby, Siem Reap, actually has an International Airport so you can just fly over there, rather than go to Phnom Penh, and then take a bus, which by the way is not really advised because things get a little shady in the rural areas, we’ll explain a little more about that in the demographics… Just keep walking Bob, you didn’t see nothin’ here… Now if you look at Angkor Wat, you not only notice the stunningly enticing view of botanically dominated temples and pagodas that have trees growing out of them, but you also notice that it has these perfectly straight geometric moats and reservoirs adjacent to the ruins. These were cleverly constructed by the empire to aid irrigation and in return feed an entire city that is speculated to have the largest pre-industrial metropolis in Asia during that time. Otherwise, most areas in Cambodia have villages that function in a subtropical, developing way, heavily based on the environment. Now let’s discuss that environment. ♫ Rock Crumbling Sound Effect ♫ Now this is where things get really colorful, because Cambodia is kind of like a landscape marvel. The country is generally characterized as having a low-lying, central plain with hilly and light mountainous regions in the southwest, and especially in the border by Vietnam. In this country, rivers are everywhere, and in the top middle corner, you can find Tonle Sap, which is the largest freshwater lake in all of Southeast Asia. Tonle Sap expands dramatically in the wet season and is home to an enormous cluster of bio diversity including over 200 species of freshwater fish. …like the Giant Barb fish, the national fish of Cambodia, that can reach lengths up to 3 meters long. IN YOUR FACE, JAPAN WITH YOUR YELLOW FISH TUNA, THIS IS HOW WE ROLL IN CAMBODIA! Now, of course one of the best things about Cambodia would have to be the food. The World Rice Conference actually voted Cambodia as having the best rice in the world 3 years in a row. And here’s possibly one of the reasons why. Like many other third world countries, the good thing is that the food is mostly fresh and organic, partially because most people can’t afford pestecides, therefore, almost every time you get a wholesome pure batch of produce. Now although fish is the main source of protein that’s consumed, the majority of Cambodians are entomophagous, or people who consume insects in their diet. Insects are actually very nutritious, low in fat and carbs, and high in protein, and can be sold at same weight for the fraction of the price that the mainstream meats will cost for, like beef and chicken. Now, despite the fresh food, Cambodia’s economy is actually more heavily dependent on textiles and footwear. Just look at the tag on your shirt, it might just be from Cambodia! NOT ON OUR WATCH! As well as tourism! [With heavy Midwestern accent] “Hey Janice, I found out that Angkor Wat!” “Wat?” “Wat?” “Wat?” Cambodia still maintains and facilitates Elephant Sanctuaries for the majestic Asian Elephant. Almost revered in some parts as keepers take great care of them as a source of their livelihood. …Especially when tourists come and, kind of want, to… ride them. [With heavy Midwestern accent] “Hey Janice, I’m riding an elephant!” “Wat?” Now here’s a sad thing, because of its brutal past, that we’ll discuss the next section… UNESCO has actually listed Cambodia as a third most landmined country in the world with about 4 million landmines that still need to be cleared out from the area. Now because of this, Cambodia actually has the highest “per capita” percentage of amputees in the world. Each month there are about 300 to 700 new amputations due to landmine injuries. The country is slowly trying to fix this problem, but for the time being the possible threat still lingers, especially in rural secluded areas. Now let’s explain more about how this came to be in… DEMOGRAPHICS Okay, first off, let’s distinguish a few confusing nuances that people seem to have with Cambodia’s demographical titles. Now, it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to somebody in Cambodia as a Cambodian and although the term Cambodian is kind of a universally interchangeable term to refer to the Cambodian ethnicity. The technically correct term to refer to the Cambodian ethnicity would be Khmer. Yeah, that’s right, all this time you though it was “Kuh-Mair”, no, it’s “Kuh-Mai”. The “r” is silent, and the “e” is an “ai”. The Cambodian language is also called Khmer and as well as the script and the culture. Speaking of which, people who speak Khmer can understand a little bit Thai and Lao as the languages have piggybacked off of each other for centuries. Most Khmer people can understand about a quarter to a third of the Thai and Lao languages if they listen really hard. The problem is, unlike Khmer, Thai and Lao are actually total languages whereas Khmer isn’t, so it can be a little confusing, but overall it’s like a code game when they talk to each other. Vietnamese though is completely unintelligible to them. That being said… Cambodia has about 15 and a half million people, the vast majority around 90% are ethnically Khmer, about 5% are Vietnamese, 1% Chinese and the remainder come from various people groups. About 95% of the country is Buddhist, adhering to the Theravada branch of Buddhism and Islam and Christianity make up about 2% each, with the remaining 1% being other affiliations. Now in order to understand Cambodia, you kind of have to understand where it came from and how it got to where it is today. You know how I do things, I’m gonna summarize this in the quickest way I can: kingdom, protectorate, occupied, kingdom, republic, really bad dictatorship, Vietnamese puppet, tranistional state and finally monarchy all over again. The really bad dictatorship was the Communist Party – the Khmer Rouge. It took over in the 70’s and killed around 1/5 of Cambodia’s population, approximately 1,5 to 3 million people. The victims were mostly educated people that were deemed a threat to the regime, as well as priests and monks, as the Marxist influence ideologies of Pol Pot instituted and forced a secular state that opposed and outlawed all types of religion. Books were burned, temples and churches were ransacked. So essentially, that explains why today, about half of the population is about 15 and under. The genocide of the 70’s effectively cut off an entire generation and those left would eventually have an explosion of children outnumbering themselves within a few decades. Speaking of which, Cambodia is the only country in Asia that has a king of part French descent and he’s also the only monarch in Asia that speaks Czech fluently. Culture-wise, Cambodia really sticks out, a lot of the customs are heavily influenced by Theravada Buddhism and traditional Khmer rituals. As a classified 3rd world country, Cambodians live off of an average salary of 2 dollars and 60 cents a day. One thing you have to understand is that like many other countries in South-East Asia, Cambodians are masters of vocational improvisation. Since the economy is highly unregulated, working in Cambodia is kind of like a free-for-all. When it comes to money, you can pretty much be and do anything you want. This could be a good and a bad thing, beacuse it allows Cambodians to innovate on all sorts of hustling. For example, you can start your own street corner gas station, all you need is a steel drum and air compressor. Heck, you can even sell gas and used pop bottles. And for the record geograpeeps, yes, I grew up in the Midwest, I call it Pop, I refuse to call it Soda, don’t even get…Soda…no I refuse to call it that. However, the downside is that it also opens up the door for a lot of controversial underground corrupt industries. Cambodia has some of the highest rates of human trafficking in the world, including the trafficking of…children. It’s sad, but it has to be addressed because it’s true and it can’t be glossed over. For a 3rd world country, where poverty is quite rampant, Cambodians may have to hustle, but they are surprisingly thrifty as well. After the monarchy was re-established, the government encouraged people to move back to abandoned towns by offering them free homes. These are typically used to operate small businesses like grocery stores, restaurants and moped repair shops and so on. Cambodia has dealt with a lot in the past half century and is trying to grow and sometimes to grow you need a little help from… FRIEND ZONE Have you ever had a friend that you realized would soon become a really terrible roommate? Yeah that’s kind of situation that Cambodia got itself in. All the relations are generally okay today. Cambodia does essentially have a little bit of historical beef with its neighbours Thailand and Vietnam. Historically, Thailand used to be the arch enemy of Cambodia and went through a number of conquests to rule over the entire area. To this day, they still have a few disputes over the Preah Vihear province, I hope I pronounced that right, probably not. And about 10 years ago riots broke out and flags and embassies were burned down as a Thai actress claimed that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand. Vietnam was kind of like the ulterior motive friend that who kept saying: “Hey, I’ll protect you and in return I’ll just kind of control over you, cool?” France still has relatively good ties with Cambodia and not only has bilateral agreements and embassies, but also helps out with internal development. Many school and universities are funded by the French and are instructed in French as well. However, due to the tourism sector, Cambodians are favoring English more as a second language rather than French, but they still teach it there. In terms of their best friends however, Cambodia would actually probably say China, Japan and South Korea. All three of these countries invest the heaviest in the country’s infrastructure, they’ve helped build roads, buildings, malls and business centers all over. Large flocks of Koreans and Japanese regularly visit Cambodia for vacation and are welcomed with open arms. In conclusion, Cambodia is a very vibrant colorful nation that had a really bad punch in the gut in the 70’s, but they didn’t throw in the towel just yet and they’re just starting to get their breath back, stand up and get ready for another round. Stay tuned, Cameroon is coming up next! Hey geograpeeps, if you’d like to learn a little bit more about Cambodia, check out and see the video, just click on this box right here, here’s a little clip.. “Cambodia’s population is now over 15 million, nearly 2/3rds of which are 2nd or 3rd generation from Khmer Rouge survivors. With the old and new generations rising up from their history of unrest, what’s it like living in Cambodia today? Well first, the aftermath of Khmer Rouge left an obvious imbalance in socioeconomic classes. The regime forced many city residents out into the rural areas leaving only a few still in the city.