Cambodia Population and Literature

In the period 1962-79 the population remained almost unchanged (equal to 5.7 million residents) due to the tragic political and military events that shocked the country. Since 1980, however, the trend has reversed and strong increases have begun (+ 2.8% per year), which have caused the population to rise to 7,876,000 residents, According to 1988 estimates. Phnom Penh, from a ghost town of 20,000 people (mostly military) under the Pol Pot regime in the mid-1970s, it is now a center of 750,000 residents (in 1962 the population was 394,000).

According to LSAT Test Centers, agriculture remains the main resource thanks to the fertile basin of the Mekong and the lands surrounding the Tonle Sap, the ” Great Lake ” which represents the expansion of the Mekong during floods, although located upstream of the river. 17% of the country’s surface is arable, a value that can be further expanded, and the main product is rice, followed by corn, sesame, legumes, cassava, soy and peanuts. Important are the fishing in inland waters, the breeding of cattle, buffaloes and pigs, the products of the forest (precious woods). Industry is slowly recovering, not favored by the scarce resources of the subsoil and by the modest electricity production, of thermal origin. Alongside the few food industries, we should mention those of assembly of motor vehicles, some chemical and rubber industries (tires).

The road system, already rather precarious (612 km by rail and 2662 km asphalted), is waiting to be restored; the fluvio-maritime one is headed by the two ports of Kompong-Som in the Gulf of Siam and of Phnom Penh on a tributary of the Mekong.

Literature. – Political events have negatively influenced the development of Cambodian literature, which has not been able to express any significant works to date. The efforts made by the French administration during the colonial period and especially during the last war to encourage the production of novels and plays, have achieved little but little results.

From the general greyness of a barely mediocre production, some names emerge: those of Nhôk Thèm who wrote Kulap Pailin (“The roses of Pailin”, 1936); by Rim Kin, author of Rīoeng Suphāt (“The story of Suphāt”, 1938); by Nou Hach who published Phkā Srabon (“Withered Flower”, 1947); by R. Govid, author of the historical novel Banteay Longvêk (“The fortress of Longvêk”).

There is no shortage of attempts to free himself from tradition: this is the case of one of the most representative modern poets, Keng Vannsak, author of Virgin Heart who, however, continues to favor traditional metrics and to resort to images taken from the classical repertoire. On the other hand, the work Fiore just blossomed by the poet Meas Yout is clearly traditional in style. But the most remarkable and refined figure of recent times is perhaps that of the Franco-Cambodian poetess Makhali Phal, author among other things of Song of Peace, a well-known and delicate composition pervaded by feelings of pacifist nationalism.

The Buddhist Institute of Phnom Penh – now Université Bouddhique Prea Sihanuk Reach – is the most important center of modern Khmer culture and has contributed greatly to the spread of culture by publishing classical texts taken from unpublished manuscripts, translations from European languages ​​and the monthly literary periodical Kampuchea Sauriya, to which is added, always with literary interests, the illustrated magazine Srok Khmer (“The Country of the Khmer”) which began its publications in 1927.

After 1960, as a consequence of intense schooling, a rather active literature was established in Cambodia, but of questionable taste. The production is in fact limited mainly to comics and photo novels and, starting from 1970, to manuals of magic and prophecies. The themes dealt with are those of tearful melodramas, of thwarted loves, of battles, of struggles, where the fantastic element and the taste for the marvelous take on a dominant role. Taken as a whole, it is also a graphically poor production, which seems to aim above all at containing the selling prices of the works. The superficial sensitivity to social issues is striking in this literature. On the other hand, the works with a historical background predominate, typical of a people who seek in the roots of the past the reasons for hope for the future.

History – Throughout the first decade of the 21st century. the political situation of Cambodia remained substantially unchanged, dominated by the Cambodian People’s Party (PPC) and its leader Hun Sen, prime minister since 1985. The inefficiency and widespread corruption of the administrative and judicial system and the lack of infrastructure continued to hindering the development process of the country, one of the poorest on the Asian continent, even if government policies aimed at attracting foreign capital and increasing tourism met with some success. The main opposition force led by Sam Rainsy (Party of Sam Rainsy, PSR), subject to restrictions and intimidation, remained confined to the margins of political life, and in the 2008 elections won only 26 seats out of 123, against the 90 of the ruling party which also managed to win the votes of the monarchist electorate, with the consequent collapse of the National United Front for an independent, neutral, peaceful and cooperating Cambodia (FUNCINPEC), which went from 26 to 2 seats. In the following years the intolerance of the population towards the executive grew and the PPC began to lose support. In the July 2013 elections, the ruling party fell sharply to only 68 seats, while the Cambodian National Salvation Party (PSNC), born from the merger of the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, won 55 seats. he contested the electoral results, accusing the government of fraud, and boycotted the parliamentary work, mobilizing the square. Protracted over the months, the demonstrations resulted in real clashes with the police forces in January 2014 which resulted in some deaths. Eventually the government agreed to open a negotiating table with the opposition, which in July decided to end the boycott on the basis of an agreement that provided for electoral reforms and sharing the leadership of the country. During these years, international relations with China and neighboring countries remained stable.

Cambodia Literature