Cambodia People - 2021


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


17,304,363 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70


noun: Cambodian(s)

adjective: Cambodian

Ethnic groups

Khmer 97.6%, Cham 1.2%, Chinese 0.1%, Vietnamese 0.1%, other 0.9% (2013 est.)


Khmer (official) 95.8%, minority languages 2.9%, Chinese .6%, Vietnamese .5%, other .2% (2019 est.)

printed major-language sample:
សៀវភៅហេតុការណនៅលើពិភពលោក។ ទីតាំងពត៏មានមូលដានគ្រឹះយាងសំខាន់។. (Khmer)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.


Buddhist (official) 97.9%, Muslim 1.1%, Christian 0.5%, other 0.6% (2013 est.)

Demographic profile

Cambodia is a predominantly rural country with among the most ethnically and religiously homogenous populations in Southeast Asia: more than 95% of its inhabitants are Khmer and more than 95% are Buddhist.  The population’s size and age structure shrank and then rebounded during the 20th century as a result of conflict and mass death.  During the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979 as many as 1.5 to 2 million people are estimated to have been killed or died as a result of starvation, disease, or overwork – a loss of about 25% of the population.  At the same time, emigration was high, and the fertility rate sharply declined.  In the 1980s, after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge, fertility nearly doubled and reached pre-Khmer Rouge levels of close to 7 children per woman, reflecting in part higher infant survival rates.  The baby boom was followed by a sustained fertility decline starting in the early 1990s, eventually decreasing from 3.8 in 2000 to 2.9 in 2010, although the rate varied by income, education, and rural versus urban location.  Despite continuing fertility reduction, Cambodia still has a youthful population that is likely to maintain population growth through population momentum. Improvements have also been made in mortality, life expectancy, and contraceptive prevalence, although reducing malnutrition among children remains stalled.  Differences in health indicators are pronounced between urban and rural areas, which experience greater poverty.

Cambodia is predominantly a country of migration, driven by the search for work, education, or marriage.  Internal migration is more prevalent than international migration, with rural to urban migration being the most common, followed by rural to rural migration.  Urban migration focuses on the pursuit of unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in Phnom Penh, with men working mainly in the construction industry and women working in garment factories.  Most Cambodians who migrate abroad do so illegally using brokers because it is cheaper and faster than through formal channels, but doing so puts them at risk of being trafficked for forced labor or sexual exploitation.  Young Cambodian men and women migrate short distances across the Thai border using temporary passes to work in agriculture, while others migrate long distances primarily into Thailand and Malaysia for work in agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, and domestic service.  Cambodia was a refugee sending country in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime, its ousting by the Vietnamese invasion, and the resultant civil war.  Tens of thousands of Cambodians fled to Thailand; more than 100,000 were resettled in the US in the 1980s.  Cambodia signed a multi-million dollar agreement with Australia in 2014 to voluntarily resettle refugees seeking shelter in Australia.  However, the deal has proven to be a failure because of poor conditions and a lack of support services for the few refugees willing to accept the offer.

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.18% (male 2,582,427/female 2,525,619)

15-24 years: 17.28% (male 1,452,784/female 1,472,769)

25-54 years: 41.51% (male 3,442,051/female 3,584,592)

55-64 years: 6.44% (male 476,561/female 612,706)

65 years and over: 4.59% (male 287,021/female 490,454) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.7

youth dependency ratio: 48.2

elderly dependency ratio: 7.6

potential support ratio: 13.2 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 26.4 years

male: 25.6 years

female: 27.2 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 153

Population growth rate

1.34% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 74

Birth rate

20.84 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 69

Death rate

7.15 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 112

Net migration rate

-0.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 116

Population distribution

population concentrated in the southeast, particularly in and around the capital of Phnom Penh; further distribution is linked closely to the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers


urban population: 24.7% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 3.06% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

2.144 million PHNOM PENH (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.78 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.59 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

22.4 years (2014 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality rate

160 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 55

Infant mortality rate

total: 45.62 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 52.46 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 38.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.27 years

male: 63.7 years

female: 68.95 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 193

Total fertility rate

2.36 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 77

Contraceptive prevalence rate

56.3% (2014)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.4% of population

rural: 77.8% of population

total: 80.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.6% of population

rural: 22.2% of population

total: 19.7% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

6% (2018)

Physicians density

0.19 physicians/1,000 population (2014)

Hospital bed density

1.9 beds/1,000 population (2016)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 55.5% of population

total: 65.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 44.5% of population

total: 34.3% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.5% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

75,000 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

HIV/AIDS - deaths

1,200 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

3.9% (2016)

country comparison to the world: 188

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

24.1% (2014)

country comparison to the world: 12

Education expenditures

2.2% of GDP (2018)

country comparison to the world: 158


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 80.5%

male: 86.5%

female: 75% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 11 years

female: 10 years (2008)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 1.1%

male: 1%

female: 1.2% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 180

NOTE: The information regarding Cambodia on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Cambodia 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Cambodia 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.