90% of its population is of Khmer origin and speaks the Khmer language, the country's official language. The remainder include Chinese, Vietnamese, Cham and Khmer Loeu.

The Khmer language is a member of the Mon-Khmer subfamily of the Austroasiatic language group. French, once the language of government in Indochina, is still spoken by some older Cambodians. French is also the language of instruction in some schools and universities that are funded by the government of France.

Cambodian French, a remnant of the country's colonial past, is a dialect found in Cambodia and is sometimes used in government. However, in recent decades, many younger Cambodians and those in the business-class have favoured learning English. In the major cities and tourist centers, English is widely spoken and taught at a large number of schools because of the overwhelming number of tourists from English-speaking countries. Even in the most rural outposts, most young people speak at least some English, as it is often taught by monks at the local pagodas where many children are educated. The dominant religion, a form of Theravada Buddhism (95%), was suppressed by the Khmer Rouge but has since experienced a revival. Islam (3%) and Christianity (2%) are also practiced.

The civil war and its aftermath have had a marked effect on the Cambodian population. 50% of the population is younger than 22. At 0.96 males/female, Cambodia has the most female-biased sex ratio in the Greater Mekong Subregion. In the Cambodian population over 65, the female to male ratio is 1.6:1. UNICEF has designated Cambodia the third most landmined country in the world, attributing over 60,000 civilian deaths and thousands more maimed or injured since 1970 to the unexploded land mines left behind in rural areas. The majority of the victims are children herding animals or playing in the fields. Adults that survive landmines often require amputation of one or more limbs and have to resort to begging for survival. In 2006, the number of landmine casualties in Cambodia took a sharp decrease of more than 50% compared to 2005, with the number of landmine victims down from 800 in 2005 to less than 400 in 2006. The reduced casualty rate continued in 2007, with 208 casualties (38 killed and 170 injured).

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Earthwalkers’ · Sala Kanseng Village · Sangkat No. 2 · Siem Reap ·
Photogallery: TIM CROCKATT