Cambodia officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia and once known as the Khmer Empire is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is 181,035 square kilometers (69,898 sq mi) in area, bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, and Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
Cambodia has a population of over 15 million. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, practiced by approximately 95 percent of the population. Cambodian Buddhism is deeply pervaded by Hinduism, Tantrism, and native animism. Key concepts in Cambodian Buddhism include reincarnation, and religious activities are focused on acquiring bonn and erasing kamm which, for Khmers, means the negative results accrued from past actions. Hinduism has left little trace beyond the magical practices of Tantricism and a host of Hindu gods now assimilated into the spirit world. Mahayana Buddhism is the religion of the majority of Chinese and Vietnamese in Cambodia. Elements of other religious practices, such as the veneration of folk heroes and ancestors, Confucianism, and Taoism mix with Chinese Buddhism are also practiced. 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 centre of Cambodia.
The country faces numerous challenges and sociopolitical issues, including widespread poverty, pervasive corruption, lack of political freedoms, low human development, and a high rate of hunger. Cambodia has been described by Human Rights Watch's Southeast Asian Director, David Roberts, as a "vaguely communist free-market state with a relatively authoritarian coalition ruling over a superficial democracy. While per capita income remains low compared to most neighboring countries, Cambodia has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia with growth averaging 6 percent over the last decade. Agriculture remains the dominant economic sector, with strong growth in textiles, construction, garments, and tourism leading to increased foreign investment and international trade. Cambodia scored dismally in an annual index (2015) ranking the rule of law in 102 countries, placing 99th overall and the worst in the region.
Cambodia's climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia, is dominated by monsoons, which are known as tropical wet and dry because of the distinctly marked seasonal differences. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to April. The country experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February.
The tourism industry is the country's second-greatest source of hard currency after the textile industry. Other tourist destinations include Sihanoukville in the south west which has several popular beaches and the sleepy riverside town of Battambang in the North West, both of which are a popular stop for backpackers who make up a large of portion of visitors to Cambodia. Most of the tourists were Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Americans, South Koreans and French. Tourism has been one of Cambodia's triple pillar industries. The Angkor Wat historical park in Siem Reap province, the beaches in Sihanoukville and the capital city Phnom Penh are the main attractions for foreign tourists.