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Population and Demography

According to the General Population Census 1998, the final population of
Cambodia on March 3 1998 was 11,437,656. Approximately 51.8 percent of the total population was female and 48.2 percent was male, that is,  a sex ratio[1] of 93 percent (NIS, 1999)[2].

To obtain up-to-date information on the population for the period between the 1998 population census and the next population census in 2008, the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) conducted a survey in 2004 among a nationally representative sample of households. The Cambodia Inter-Censal Population Survey (CIPS) showed an estimated population in Cambodia on March 3 2004 of 12.824 million people. Approximately 51.7 percent of the total population was female and 48.3 percent was male, that is, a sex radio of 93.5 percent in 2004.

According to CIPS 2004, out of 2.5 million households in Cambodia, 29.2 percent of households were headed by females, showing an increase of 3.5 percentage points over the proportion of 25.7 percent in 1998. The percentage of female-headed households in urban and rural areas was 28.6 and 29.3 percent, respectively.

According to CIPS 2004, the density of the population was 74 persons per square kilometer, showing an increase of 10 points over 1998. The average household size of regular households in 2004 was 5.1 persons, with an average of 5.4 persons for urban households and 5.0 persons for rural households.

Table 5.1 Estimated number of households and household population by sex and average household size by total, urban and rural areas, Cambodia 2004


Source: CIPS, 2004

The average size of household has marginally decreased during 1998-2004 both in urban and rural areas indicating perhaps the beginning of a trend to have smaller sized households. It is also interesting to note there is little difference in size between rural and urban households.

Age Distribution

According to CIPS 2004, approximately 38.6 percent of the population was 14 years old or younger and only about 3.9 percent of the population was 65 years of age or older.  The proportion for each age group based on the CIPS survey and population projections are almost the same.

The proportion of children of 14 years of age or younger declined by about four percentage points during 1998-2004. The proportion of the population aged 15-49 years increased by about 3 percentage points during 1998-2004 (Table 5.1, Figure 5.1 and Figure 5.2). The median age in Cambodia worked out to be 19.9 in 2004 and is likely to increase to 21.6 in 2010 according to projections.

 Table 5.2: Percentage of the Population by Age Group








Source: CIPS 2004

Figure 5.1: Age Pyramid, 2004


Source : CIPS 2004

Figure 5.2: Age Pyramid, 1998


Source : CIPS 2004

The population characteristics of Cambodia, while being similar to those of some of the comparable developing countries, reflect distinctively the consequences of war and political instability in the recent past. The effects of high mortality and large scale out migration from the country during the Khmer Rouge period (1975-79) are revealed by very low sex ratios in the age groups 40 - 44 onwards. The largest cohort reported by the census is those of ages 5 – 9 closely followed by the cohort of ages 10-14. This may be attributed to a baby boom reported in the early 1980s after the Khmer Rouge era ended and an estimated high fertility in the following years. The 1998 Census counted a population of 11.4 million (NIS, 2006).

Age Dependency Ratio

The age dependency ratio is the percentage of the population in the younger (0-14) and older (65+) age groups to the population in the age group 15 - 64 years. Table 5.3 shows that the dependency ratio is higher in rural areas for both sexes. These ratios are lower than the corresponding ratios in 1998. The main reason for this difference is the change in the age structure with decline in the proportion of child population.

Table 5.3: Dependency Ratio, 2004


Source : CIPS 2004

Marital Status

According to CPIS 2004, most males and females are currently married. The proportion of widowed, divorced and separated women was much higher than the corresponding proportions among males. This pattern, which was also observed in the 1998 census, is mainly due to higher mortality among men, especially in older ages, and the tendency among women to not remarry once they are widowed, divorced or separated (Table 5.4).

Table 5.4: Percentage of Marital Status by Sex






Source : CIPS 2004

Employment Status

According to the estimates of employment, total employment in 1993 was 3.9 million. The agriculture sector accounted for 81 percent of employment, the industrial sector for 3 percent, and the service sector for 16 percent. According to 2004 CSES, total employment had increased to 7.5 million by that year. The agriculture sector accounted for approximately 60.3 percent of employment, the industrial sector for 12.5 percent and the service sector for 27.2 percent.   Approximately 68.1 percent of employed persons in rural areas worked in the agriculture sector, compared to 2.6 percent and 40.3 percent of employed persons in Phnom Penh and other urban areas, respectively (NIS, 2006).

For rural areas, the main industries of employment were crop production (47.2 percent), livestock farming (13.6 percent), retail trade (10.3 percent) and the manufacture of textiles, apparel and footwear (3.7 percent) (NIS, 2006).

For urban areas, the main industries of employment were crop production (25.8 percent), retail trade (23.3 percent), livestock farming (7.2 percent) and fishing (6.5 percent) (NIS, 2006).

The main industries of employment for Phnom Penh were retail trade (33.8 percent), public administration and defence (12.5 percent), the manufacture of textiles, apparel and footwear (12.2 percent) and domestic workers (7.8 percent) (NIS, 2006).

Population Growth Projection

The population projection for Cambodia in 2006 is 14.0 million according to official population projections based on the 1998 General Population Census and the 2004 CIPS. The population increased by 2.0 percentage points from 13.8 million in 2005. The estimated average population density in 2006 is 82 persons per square kilometre. Around 51.4 percent of the population is female, and the population is growing at an estimated rate of around 1.7 percent per annum.

The population growth rate is continuing to decline and expected to fall to 1.6 percent by 2011. In terms of further population growth, the Cambodian population is projected to increase to 14.0 million in 2006, 14.8 million in 2009 and 15.3 million by 2011 (NIS, 2006)[3].

WFP's Beneficiaries

In 1979, WFP began its operation in Cambodia to provide humanitarian relief assistance to refugees and internally displaced people. Subsequent to the Paris Peace Accords in 1991, WFP began extensive rehabilitation programmes to support the recovery of the population following decades of conflict and economic isolation. Since the advent of genuine peace in the late 1990s, WFP has been at the forefront of efforts to bring lasting reprieve from extreme poverty and hunger to the people of Cambodia.

With its focus on basic human needs in rural areas, including health and nutrition, education, and disaster management, WFP’s current operations continue to facilitate the recovery process and directly contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. The combined geographic coverage of the current Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations (PRRO 10305.0) and Development Project (10170.1) allowed WFP to reach more than 1.2 million people across all 24 provinces in 2006 (Figure 5.3, Figure 5.4, Figure 5.5). As Cambodia continues along the course of recovery, WFP food assistance remains an essential means for improving the lives of the food-insecure and provides a critical safety net in times of crisis.

Figure 5.3: WFP 2006 Food Allocation by Programme


Source : WFP

Figure 5.4: WFP 2006 Beneficiaries by Programme


Source : WFP

Figure 5.5: WFP 2006 Beneficiaries by Age Group


Source : WFP



[1] Number of males per 100 females

[2] NIS, 1999, General Population Census of Cambodia 1998

[3] NIS, 2006, Statistical Year Book 2006.

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