Cambodia (Khmer: កម្ពុជា, Kampuchea), officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia (Khmer: ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា, Preăh Réachéanachâk Kâmpŭchéa) and once known as the Khmer Empire, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Its total landmass is 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 sq mi), bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
With a population of over 20.2 million, Cambodia is the 47th most populous country in the world. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by approximately 95% of the Cambodian population. The country's minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams, and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic, and cultural center of Cambodia. The kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch chosen by the Royal Throne Council, as head of state. The head of government is Hun Sen, who is currently the longest serving non-royal leader in South East Asia and has ruled Cambodia for over 25 years.
Cambodia's ancient name is "Kambuja" (Sanskrit: कंबुज). In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king marking the beginning of the Khmer Empire which flourished for over 600 years allowing successive kings to dominate much of Southeast Asia and accumulate immense power and wealth. The Indianized kingdom built monumental temples including Angkor Wat, now a World Heritage Site, and facilitated the spread of first Hinduism, then Buddhism to much of Southeast Asia. After the fall of Angkor to Ayutthaya in the 15th century, Cambodia was then ruled as a vassal between its neighbors.
Cambodia became a protectorate of France in 1863, and later gained independence in 1953.
Cambodia is a "vaguely socialist free-market state with a relatively authoritarian coalition ruling over a superficial democracy." Cambodia still faces numerous challenges and sociopolitical issues that stunt its development as a nation. In 2013, Cambodia scored a 20 out of a scale of a 100 (highly clean) to 0 (highly corrupt) on the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, which also ranked the nation as the a ranking of 160 out of 175 nations (tied with other nations) making the nation one of the most corrupt in the world and Cambodia is the second most corrupt nation in Asia with the People's Republic of China being the first. According to Freedom House in their 2013 report Cambodia scored a 5.5 out of a scale of 1 (Free) to 7 (Not Free) indicating that Cambodia as a nation is 'Not Free'. As of 2013, the Human Development Index (HDI) ranks Cambodia 138th place (tied with Laos) making the nation one of the lowest ranking in terms of human development and that it indicates that Cambodia has lower medium to low development presently. Cambodia is a low income economy with it having one of the lowest annual incomes in the world with the agriculture sector dominating the country's economy, followed by the service and industrial sectors. According to the Global Hunger Index, Cambodia currently ranks as the 32nd hungriest nation in the world out of the list of the 56 nations with the worst hunger situation(s) in the world.
Cambodia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with economic growth averaging 6 percent for the last 10 years. Strong textiles, agriculture, construction, garments, and tourism sectors led to foreign investments and international trade. Oil and natural gas deposits found beneath Cambodia's territorial waters in 2005 remain mostly untapped, due in part to territorial disputes with Thailand. However, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world with two million people living in poverty, endemic government corruption and a poor record on human rights. One third of the population live on less than a dollar a day. Forty per cent of children are chronically malnourished. Among the ten ASEAN countries, Cambodia ranked last in terms of quality of life. There is a large gap between rich and poor in Cambodia. Phnom Penh has experienced a building boom. However, many people struggle to get basic services in Cambodia, "where public hospitals are overwhelmed and average annual income is £600 - or £1.60 a day - nearly a fifth that of Vietnam and Thailand."
Forced land evictions by senior officials, the security forces, and government-connected business leaders are common in Cambodia. Land has been confiscated from hundreds of thousands of Cambodians over more than a decade for the purpose of “self-enrichment and maintaining power at all costs,” claims a partner at the London-based firm Global Diligence. Credible non-governmental organizations estimate that "770,000 people have been adversely affected by land grabbing covering at least four million hectares (nearly 10 million acres) of land that have been confiscated, according to the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).