Cambodia’s Land Use

A picture from a mountain top across Cambodia's forested plains.

The main land use is agricultural at 32.1% of which 22.7% is arable, 0.9% permanent crops and 8.5% permanent pasture. Incredibly, forests still make up 56.5% of Cambodia’s land with 11.6% used for various other uses.

Cambodia has a land area of approximately 181,035 square kilometres in the southern part of the Indochina peninsula.

Cambodian Land Uses

In times before the French occupation of Cambodia, all land in the Kingdom belonged to the reigning monarch. It was actually the French who introduced the concept of land ownership to Cambodia and upheld in the post-independence era until the destruction of all land titles by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s.

Private land ownership was maintained in 1993 after the Paris Peace Agreement ended Vietnamese occupation.

Agriculture is the main occupation for over 40 percent of the Cambodian people, however, many more live in rural areas and rely on agriculture in one way or another.

The majority of the arable land is cultivated for crops like wheat, maize, and rice that are replanted after each harvest. Permanent crops are cultivated for crops like citrus, coffee, and rubber that are not replanted after each harvest.

This also includes land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees, and vines, but excludes land under trees grown for wood or timber. Other land uses includes permanent meadows and pastures, forests and woodlands, built-on areas, roads, barren land, etc.

Foreign ownership of property

Foreigners cannot own land in Cambodia, but they can acquire ownership rights in private units of part-owned buildings from the first floor up. Foreigners cannot own ground floors or underground floors in co-owned buildings. The rules were set out in the Law on Providing Foreigners with Ownership Rights in Private Units of Co-Owned Buildings, May 2010.

Cambodian Provinces

Cambodia shares international borders with Thailand to the west, Vietnam to the east and Laos to the north with the Gulf of Siam giving Cambodia its southern coastline.

Cambodia is subdivided into 25 provinces or khaet in Khmer. The capital city is Phnom Penh which is not considered a province but instead is classed as an administrative zone and is classed as the 25th province. Cambodia is also home to some other sizable cities including Siem Reap and Battambang.

Cambodia and its provinces can be divided into six geographical areas:

Northwestern Cambodian Provinces

Pursat
Battambang
Pailin
Siem Reap
Oddar Meanchey
Banteay Meanchey
Preah Vihear

Northeastern Cambodian Provinces

Stung Treng
Kratie
Ratanakiri
Mondulkiri

Southeastern Cambodian Provinces

Kampong Cham
Kandal
Tboung Khmum
Prey Veng
Svay Rieng

Southern Cambodian Provinces

Kep
Kampot
Takeo

Central Cambodian Provinces

Kampong Chnnang
Kampong Speu
Kampong Thom
Phnom Penh Municipality

Southwestern Cambodian Provinces

Koh Kong
Sihanoukville

Population

Phnom Penh has by far the highest population and population density when compared to the other provincial areas but is the smallest in size after Kep. The largest land area is Mondulkiri which also has the lowest population density. Each province has an appointed governor who oversees and administers provincial matters.

Each province in Cambodia is subdivided into districts or srok in Khmer, although the 12 districts of Phnom Penh are called khan.

There are 163 districts all together in the country with the smallest province (Kep) having just two and the larger provinces (Siem Reap, Battambang) having as many as 14. Districts are further divided into subdistricts or khum then again into communes or sangkat and finally into villages or phum.

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