Cambodian Culture By: Madison Kane, shanthni ravindrababu, Grace Pride, Fazil soharwardi, and Ethan ferrari


Cambodia has a population of about 15.14 million people


  • Phnom Penh is a popular place for all citizens and tourists to go in Cambodia
  • There are parks, swimming areas, restaurants, and even yoga classes
  • Important areas of Cambodia are also often visited, these include: Wat Phnom (temple), Wat (temple), The Royal Palace and the Independance Monument
  • Sihanoukville - famous for their beaches. This city also has spas, diving clubs, and places for recreational use


  • "Conservative traditional norm value women less than men, and persistent gender power imbalances lead to poverty, iliteracy, gender discrimination, and other obstacles that prevent women from effectively participating in Cambodia's development" ("The Role of Women in Cambodia").
  • 18% of all elected councilors are women
  • Responsible for production and marketing of products
  • Cannot obtain business loans easily which causes poverty
  • If they are educated, they can get earn more money, but never as much as the men


  • Located in groups or along a river in villages which often contain hundreds of thousands of people
  • Everything from birth to marriage to death occurs in the villages
  • Temporary shelters are common if the husband works far from home in a field
  • Some extremely poor villages do not even have electricity, telephones, or mail delivery
"Ma says the ground level is undesierable because dirt gets into your house and nosy people are always peeking in, so of course only poor people live on the ground level" (ung 8).


  • Unfortunately, many people are illiterate as they only have a 65% literacy rate among adults
  • Only 53% of third graders are at grade reading level
  • "Cambodia has also strengthened gender parity in education, with girls comprising 48 percent of primary students" (Education).

Jobs & Income

  • Average income of $1.30 US dollars a day
  • Often, farmers leave early in the morning with their buffalo and cattle
  • About 10% of Cambodians run a shop out of their house which they call a "Shop House"
  • Around 8% of the population works for the government
  • Large gap between the rich and poor
  • Rich people usually have mansions, fancy cars, and servants
  • Those who are poor live in small, thatched houses and rarely even have a bicycle
"'I'm full can I go?', i ask swinging my legs even harder. 'All right, you can go play', ma says with a sigh" (ung 6).


  • 95% of the population is Theravada Buddhism
  • Other religions include Mahayana Buddhism, Daoism, Sunni Islam, Evangelical Protestantism
  • Buddhists govern their lives with dhamma
  • Women do not have to renounce their home lives in order to be religious
  • Buddhism was recongnized as the state religion until 1975
  • Religious practices were forbidden by the Khmer Rouge
  • Buddhism taught them to not bring importance to material wealth
  • Rural Cambodians still aspire to Buddhist ideals
  • Before 1975, Buddhism education and ideology were taught in school
Sculpture of Buddha


  • Have 3 meals a day and often eat snacks from street vendors
  • Extremely similar to Vietnamese and Thai food
  • Lunch and dinner usually contain a meat (or fish), vegetables, and fruit, there is almost always rice somewhere in their meal
  • Street food is cheap and enjoyed by everyone, including tourists
Iced Coffee is a popular drink in Cambodia
  • Insects, animal hooves, snouts, and feet are all delicacies
  • Commonly eaten insects are ants, roaches, tarantulas, and crickets - all are usually eaten fried
"Wrapped in a green lotus leaf, the brown, glazed crickets smell of smoked wood and honey. They taste like salty burnt nuts"(Ung 6).
  • Garnished with peppers, limes, spices, and herbs
  • Dishes often contain contrasting flavors such as a sweet flavor paired with a bitter taste
  • "Cambodians usually have 3 meals a day. Rice in some form is eaten at nearly every meal. Fish is the main protein. Poor people may have to make do with cold rice (left over from lunch time) and fish sauce for their evening meal" ("Cambodian Lifestyle").


Religious Holidays

  • Pchum Ben - 2 week rituals that honor the dead, they visit their ancestor's graves, give offering
  • Kathin - A day for processions (parades), about honoring the monks and giving them food/new robes
A visiting monk on Kathin

Other Holidays

  • Water Festival - lasts from November 2nd to the 4th, they race colorful long boats in the day and display illuminated boats at night
  • Independance Day - November 9th, festivals and parades around the country with the main celebration in Phnom Penh, it is important, it does not have as much widespread cultural resonance as the religious holidays
  • Khmer New Year - April 14th, but the Cambodian New Year is celebrated on the 15th and 16th of April, they illuminate houses with bright lights and give money to the poor
  • King's Birthday - typically on May 15th, the king makes offerings to the monks and those who are less fortunate in society, buildings are covered in lights and pictures of the king
  • "The day of the Buddha's birth and enlightenment (May) and the day of the Buddha's last sermon (February) are also important holidays. The beginning of the Buddhist lunar calendar occurs in April and has both religious and secular aspects" ("Cambodia").
The Water Festival

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