Cambodia

THIS SOuTHEAST ASIAN country was a French colony until it gained independence in 1953. The country was devastated by war from 1970-75 and 1978-91, leading to the destruction of much of the country's infrastructure. It has a land area of 69,898 sq. mi. (181,035 sq. km.), a population of 13,971,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 201 people per sq. mi. (78 people per sq. km.). Altogether, 13 percent of the land in the country is used for arable purposes, with a further 11 percent used for meadows and pasture. Officially, about 74 percent of the country is forested, but there has been massive deforestation since the 1980s, in spite of government claims to have limited the problem. This, in turn, has led to soil erosion, made worse by flooding of some areas. In fact, the flouting of environmental laws by government officials and businesses has long been a major problem in the country.

A poor and undeveloped country, Cambodia has little electricity production, with 62.1 percent generated from fossil fuels and 37.8 percent from hydropower. Cambodia's per capita carbon dioxide emissions have been extremely low, with negligible rates recorded, and 0.04 metric tons per person generated in 2003. Cambodia ranks 205th in the world's CO2, emissions, only slightly less than Mali, and a rate only higher than Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Chad, and Somalia. Of Cambodia's carbon dioxide emissions, 77 percent comes from liquid fuels, which is due to cars or buses.

The remaining 23 percent come from cement manufacturing. There is also a reasonably high per capita emission of carbon monoxide.

With much of Cambodia low-lying, parts of the country have regularly faced problems from floods, and with the rising water levels, the floods have become more frequent. Flooding could increase mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Most of the country's fishing industry is located in the Tonle Sap Lake in central Cambodia and the Mekong River, and thus is less likely to face problems related to the warming of the Indian Ocean, with overexploitation causing a far bigger problem. The Cambodian government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and ratified the Vienna Convention in 2001. It accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on August 22, 2002, which took effect on February 16, 2005.

See ALSO: Deforestation; Floods; Transportation.

BIBLIOGRApHY. "Cambodia—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007); Cambodia: First State of the Environment Report 1994 (Cambodian Ministry of the Environment, 1994); Robert Turnbull, "Reconciliation and Conservation in the Cardamons," Geographical (v.77/5, 2005).

Justin Corfield Geelong Grammar School, Australia

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