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Research paper example essay prompt: Cambodia - 1930 words

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.. hildren were underfed. Hundreds of thousands of children are orphans or have only one surviving parent. The crisis of poverty, affecting children and adults alike, makes lone-term planning difficult, or impossible. Because of insecurity and a shortage of revenue, the State of Cambodia has been unable to keep Cambodia's roads, bridges, and railway system in good repair.

Trips that before 1970 took less than an hour from Phnom Penh by car, on well-paved roads, now take over three hours, on roads from which the paving has almost disappeared. Rapid Social Change A third theme is that for many Cambodians, as for millions of other people elsewhere in the 1990's, everything is changing so rapidly that their past experience gives little guidance for their lives. The possibility of the return of Democratic Kampuchea and the erosion of traditional values have made many Cambodians uncertain. This is particularly true for those who live abroad. People who traveled for twenty years on foot, in ox-carts, or in an occasional rickety bus now live alongside freeways where tens of thousands of cars, trucks, and buses roar past them everyday.

Accustomed to villages, they live in urban slums or run-down suburban areas. When they venture from home, for work or shopping, their new environment, its inhabitants, and its weather are unfamiliar, even menacing. The freedom enjoyed by young people in the West is also distressing to many older refugees who have settled there, and so is the apparent decline of Buddhism. Cut off from their roots, many Cambodians find difficulty putting down new ones. Some have tried hard to do so, however, by becoming Christians, for example, or by working hard in high school and college.

As these changes are going on, many Cambodian immigrants have watched their children become American or French, Canadian or Australian, losing track of the past, and often losing respect for the ways that held Cambodian society together. For older Cambodians, the process has been sad to watch. The Civil War Finally, Cambodians in Cambodia and along the Thai border live in the shadow of an ongoing civil war. This war has sputtered along since 1980. When the Vietnam withdrew their troops in 1989, thousands of young Cambodians were forcibly drafted into the army and trucked off to battlefronts in the northwest, while their counterparts in the refugee camps were pressed into service to fight them.

The civil war also affects civilians. Every year, hundreds of civilian men, women, and children, as well as a larger number of soldiers, have their legs or arms blown off by small plastic land mines that have been scattered throughout the country over the years by Democratic Kampuchea, the State of Cambodia, the Vietnamese, and the resistance forces. Many of the mines are undetectable until they're stepped on or touched by mistake. The pressure and the click that it makes on the mine activate the explosive, which blows off a hand, a foot, or more. Mines made in China and favored by Democratic Kampuchea are known as jumping mines, because of the way they leap out of the ground when ignited.

The minefields are unmapped, and experts estimate that to clear those along the Thai border alone would require 30,000 people working for several months, during which over 10,000 of the workers would be maimed or killed. Villagers in the late 1980's and early 1990's, especially in remote parts of the country, were also threatened by D.K. raiding parties. These ranged in size from five to a hundred men. Sometimes they offered gold for food and treated people decently, but in most cases they menaced, killed, and kidnapped rural people and tortured S.O.C. officials to death as a warning to others. Some of these D.K. fighters have been raiding villages and using their weapons against enemies for over twenty years.

Cambodia's People Today: Boom or Bust? Since the early 1980's, foreign journalists and most other visitors have not been allowed to circulate freely in Cambodian, because of the threats posed by guerrillas and because the Phnom Penh government, like many others in the past, has preferred to control the information about Cambodia that reaches the outside world. This makes it difficult to say much about social and economic conditions in many rural areas today, as compared with those in Phnom Penh or in the places where visitors are usually taken. Even in the cities, some see hopeful new prosperity and others a frightening descent into corruption and despair. At the same time, some statements about Cambodia today are easy to make. The first, already emphasized, is that nearly all its people are desperately poor. By the early 1990's, agricultural production has not yet reached pre-Revolutionary levels, and indeed its seems likely that in many war-torn and forested areas little food is being grown.

Malnutrition is a serious problem in many parts of the country and is the major illness treated in the children's hospital in Phnom Penh. Other diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, are widespread in rural areas. Many parts of the country are too embattled for people to be sure of eating and single mothers with small children, eke out precarious livings in Phnom Penh, often finding it difficult to cope. Yet some parts of the country, such as Kompong Chhnang on the shores of the Tonle Sap, have regained some of their earlier prosperity, as fisheries have reopened and a flourishing trade in fish and fish products has developed between Cambodia and southern Vietnam. Similarly, in the ruby and sapphire mining regions of the northwest, many individual miners have become wealthy by trading across the border with Thailand. Similar fortunes are being made by Khmer and Thai who cooperate, without official permission, to cut down valuable timber in the frontier region.

Still other Cambodians, transporting goods from Thailand through Cambodia to Vietnam by truck, on foot, or on bicycles, earn a handsome profit, and there is a flourishing coastal trade in Cambodia's Wild West province of Koh Kong. Phnom Penh is Cambodia's capital and largest city. Hardly any of this prosperity reaches the Phnom Penh government in the form of taxes, and the government is therefore sorely pressed to provide basic services like electricity, water, and sanitation to its people-to say nothing of education, new roads, or proper medical care. The new prosperity does trickle down to many poor Cambodians who find jobs in building construction, restaurants, tourist services, and markets unthinkable in the more austerely socialist atmosphere of the early 1980's. As Vietnamese troops departed, and the government relaxed its dependence on Vietnam, it became unclear to what extent any Cambodian government could influence events outside the capital, or control the economic boom that seemed to have overtaken Phnom Penh.

Benefits are very uneven, and many Cambodians in the 1980's balanced on a thin edge between death and survival. Hundreds of thousands of them had too little to eat, worked long hours for pitiful rewards, and succumbed easily to disease. These hardships darkened the picture of an economic boom based on trade and speculation, reported by many visitors to Phnom Penh and to areas along the Thai border. This boom, if it really is one, is based largely on informal trade with Thailand and between Thailand and Vietnam, and also on increasing revenue from tourism, real estate speculation, and the possibility of renewed foreign investment, particularly by Thailand, Hong Kong, and Japan. With the relaxation of Vietnamese influence, many Cambodian government officials have become wealthy, as have individual traders, themselves often Vietnamese, Chinese, or Chinese-Cambodians. Prospects for the Future These developments have also widened the gaps between Cambodia's rich and poor, and, some would say, between the Vietnamese and Chinese minorities on the one hand and Cambodia's urban and rural poor on the other. Some visitors saw the changes as evidence of a new openness and new opportunities for Cambodia, and as a chance for Khmers to benefit from relative political freedom and from the prosperity of the early 1990's. The rebirth of Buddhism, and Buddhist festivals, was seen by many as a hopeful sign and as evidence of the resilience of Cambodian culture and the flexibility of its supposedly Communist leaders. Others claimed that the collapse of the old monarchy, the pressures of world economics, and Cambodia's hardships in the 1970's and early 1980's had all been too much for the country, and that its very survival was in doubt.

Bicycles, motorbikes, and pedicabs flood the streets of present day Phnom Penh. Throughout its recent history, then, Cambodia has had to come to terms with its location between two powerful and often antipathetic regimes, each seeking to turn it into a kind of buffer zone. Prince Sihanouk, Lon Nol, and Pol Pot sought to neutralize this situation by seeking protection from powers outside the region, particularly China and the United States. Other regimes have sought to escape the threats of one neighbor by becoming the client of the other. Still others perceived the changes in the late 1980's as a return to the widespread corruption of pre-Revolutionary times, when gaps developed between the richest and poorest members of Cambodian society, and particularly between high officials in the government and ordinary people.

Some resented the favored treatment they claimed was being given to the Vietnamese inhabitants of the country. In the 1970's similar injustice led many young people to join the revolutionary forces led by Pol Pot. After the killing fields of the early 1970's, sweeping social change was no longer a real possibility, but if widespread corruption continues, it could easily erode the confidence that has been built up in the 1980's between the government and the people. These economic threats, changes, and opportunities, as well as the evolving relationship between the government and the people, must be seen, in the short term, against the background of an ongoing civil war and in the context of the economic boom that has overtaken so much of the region. The future will also be affected by the breakdown of Communist parties in Europe and the pressure against those that survive in Asia, especially in China and Vietnam. If Cambodia is to become a non-Communist country, as seems likely, what kind of government will it have? In the longer term, the rapid changes of the 1980's need to be seen in the context of Cambodia's history, for which written records extend back for nearly two thousand years. Current Statistics and Data Basic Facts Official name Kingdom of Cambodia (Kampuchea) Capital Phnom Penh Area 181,040 sq.

km Major cities (Pop) Phnom Penh 369,000 Batdambang 94,412 People Population 10.3 million Region Southeast Asia Pop. growth rate 3% Pop. density 57 persons per sq. km Percent urban 20.7% of the pop. Percent rural 79.3% of the pop.

Life expectancy, female 53 years Life expectancy, male 50 years Infant mortality rate 130 deaths per 1,000 live births Ethnic divisions Khmer 90% Vietnamese 5% Chinese 1% Other 4% Languages Khmer (official), French Religions Theravada Buddhism 95% Other 5% Government Government Constitutional monarchy Independence 9th November 1949 (from France) Constitution 24th September 1993 Voting rights Universal at age 18 Economy GDP per capita U.S $96 Major trade partners for exports & imports Vietnam, former Soviet republics, Eastern European countries, Japan, India Exports Natural rubber, rice, pepper, wood Imports International food aid, fuels, consumer goods, machinery Industries Rice milling, fishing, wood products, rubber, cements, gem mining Agriculture Mainly subsistence farming except for rubber plantations; main crops- rice, rubber, maize, food shortages-rice, meat, vegetables, dairy products, sugar, flour Natural resources Timber, gemstones, some iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential Bibliography Bibliography Encarta 97 Encyclopedia Funk & Wagnails Brittanica Encyclopedia 1994 Encyclopedia Americana 1993 A history of Cambodia (1983) Michael Vickery & David P. Chandler Cambodia 1975-1982 (1984) American History Essays.

Related: cambodia, theravada buddhism, dairy products, consumer goods, alike

Research paper topics, free essay prompts, sample research papers on Cambodia