Published 28th January 2020
Cambodia is one of the few countries left in this world which not many people know about. Sure you may have heard about your high school friend Tom who went backpacking around South East Asia for a few months, but Cambodia is probably the country you know least about. Cambodia is not yet on the beaten track of tourism, so it’s not really your fault if you don’t know much about it. In fact, it’s a hidden gem and it won’t be long before everyone and their cousin Sally are making their way there. To increase your general knowledge and help you sound very intelligent and worldly at your next drinks party, here are a few interesting facts about Cambodia for you to wow your friends.
It always changes its name
Over the last 60 years or so, Cambodia has changed its name every time a new government came into power. It started as the Kingdom of Cambodia in 1953, changing to the Khmer Republic, Democratic Kampuchea, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, the State of Cambodia and finally back to the Kingdom of Cambodia in 1993.
Its flag is unique
Cambodia’s flag is blue and red with a white image of Angkor Wat in the centre. What is interesting about the flag is that it’s the only flag in the world that has a building on it.
It’s very young
Almost half of the Cambodian population is younger than 15 years old! This is largely due to the heartbreaking genocide which took place from 1975 to 1979 under the rule of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, when almost two million people were killed. Currently the birth rate is three times higher than the death rate.
Birthdays are not a big deal
Not many people in Cambodia celebrate their birthday. In fact, a lot of Cambodians don’t remember their exact date of birth but rather know their birthday season. Instead, Cambodians believe they age another year at Cambodian New Year. What’s more, traditionally Cambodians are born at age 1 rather than 0, so even if a Cambodian friend was born in the same year as you they would consider themselves a year older!
You need to save for your funeral
In Cambodia, funerals are really expensive. Traditional funerals last over 49 days and can cost as much as USD 9 000, which is astronomical when you understand that many Cambodians earn USD 150 a month.
Landmines are still an issue
Another sad fact, but the reality is that landmines are still very much a problem in certain parts of Cambodia. About 4 to 6 million mines are thought to be active in the rural areas around the country, and at least 30 people die each year because of them. Another result of landmines is that Cambodia has the highest percentage of people with amputated limbs in the world.
There is no future King or Queen
The current king of Cambodia Nodorom Sihamoni is single and has no children. This means there is no direct successor to the throne.
They eat spiders
Yes, the rumours are true: Cambodians really do enjoy eating insects – crickets, silk worms, grasshoppers and scorpions, among other flying and crawling things. Apparently full of protein, vitamins and amino acids, they’re a great addition to your diet. For those more adventurous, you can try the local speciality, deep fried tarantula, to be exact. They say it’s similar to soft-shell crab so don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!
As you can see, Cambodia is not your usual tourist destination, which is even more reason why you should pack your bags, do a TEFL course, and make your way to his exciting country!