Cambodia Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Cambodia Country Overview

Where is Cambodia located? The Kingdom of Cambodia is a country located in Southeast Asia. After gaining independence, the former French colony had to contend with serious and ongoing civil wars, the damage from which has not yet been overcome. Geographically, Cambodia is located in an area that is in the zone of ‘Indochina Time’ (ICT) on the time zone map. In this world time zone, there is a standard difference to coordinated world time of 7 hours. Accordingly, it is 7 hours later on clocks in Cambodia on those of the world clock (UTC +7).

Cambodia National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Cambodia is 16,926,984, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 16,926,984
Population growth rate 1.40%
Birth rate 23.00 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall life expectancy 63.41 years
Men life expectancy 61.01 years
Women life expectancy 65.93 years
Age structure
0-14 years 30.76%
15-64 years 64.87%
65 years and above 4.37%
Median age 24.50 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 0.94
Population density 93.50 residents per kmĀ²
Urbanization 18.60%
90% Khmer, 5% Vietnamese, 4% Cham (of Malay origin); Chinese, Thai, Moi, Khmer Loeu (highland Khmer), Lao
Theravada Buddhists 95%, Others 5%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.581
HDI ranking 146th out of 194

People in Cambodia

More than 16 million people live in Cambodia and the average age is around 22 years. The population is therefore very young on average. Most of the people belong to the Khmer, that is the original population of Cambodia. About 85 to 90 people belong to the Khmer ethnic group.

Five out of 100 people are Vietnamese. Three in 100 are Cham and one in 100 Cambodians is Chinese. There are also some mountain peoples who are considered to be minorities in the country. One often hears the term “highland Khmer” for these people. They sometimes move around with their animals as shepherds, but also grow rice and vegetables.

The Khmer

It is not exactly known where the Khmer originally came from. In any case, they have lived where they are today since the 2nd century AD. There are always conflicts between the Khmer and the Vietnamese. At the time of French colonial rule in Indochina, the French often preferred the Vietnamese when it came to assigning offices. Many of these Vietnamese live in floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake.

Most of the people settle in the central plains of the country as life in the mountains is very difficult. Three quarters of the population live in the Cambodian Basin, which is only five to 20 meters above sea level.

Only 20 out of 100 Cambodians live in the big cities. The small number of city dwellers is due to the history of the country. The Khmer Rouge killed many people during their rule from 1975 to 1978, especially in the capital Phnom Penh, so that the population fell from 2.5 million to only 20,000. This is still noticeable today.

Languages in Cambodia

Most Cambodians speak Khmer as their mother tongue. However, many in the cities can also speak a foreign language, mostly French. Cambodia was once part of Indochina (look here at history and politics). Some of them now speak English. Vietnamese and Chinese are also spoken. The minorities in Cambodia speak their own language.

Religions in Cambodia

Most of the people in Cambodia are Buddhists, but there are also some Muslims and few Christians. Buddhism was also the state religion of Cambodia until 1995.