Chhay Mach and her husband, Seng Ny, struggled to make ends meet by raising pigs and selling fruit in their impoverished Cambodian village. But their profits were not enough to feed the six children who shared their crowded, leaf-roofed house, or to pay for school supplies.
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The Kingdom of Cambodia is located on mainland Southeast Asia with Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. Cambodia experiences little temperature variation throughout the year. Average annual rainfall ranges between 50 inches and nearly 200 inches. Natural resources include oil and gas, timber, gemstones, iron ore, phosphates, and hydropower.
Cambodia’s population is comprised mostly of descendents of the Khmer people, a group that migrated from the north more than 2,000 years ago. Other ethnic groups include Chinese, Vietnamese, and Laotians. Khmer is the country’s official language and is spoken by 95 percent of Cambodians.
Since 2004, Cambodia’s economic growth rate has averaged nearly 10 percent, with the textile sector and tourism industry driving the progress. Inflation has remained steady over the past 10 years, holding at 6 percent or less. Despite these recent improvements, however, more than a third of Cambodians live below the poverty line, and nearly 78 percent live on less than $2 a day. Economic growth has been limited primarily to urban areas, creating a large income gap between rich and poor communities.
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