Why is Cambodia poor?
There are several reasons why Cambodia is so poor – some historical and some more modern.
Historically, Cambodia has had a hard time recovering from the horrors of the Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s that killed an estimated 2 million people. Pol Pot took the country back in time and tried to create a rural economy with hardly any development or modern advancements. It meant that other countries in the region were able to build their economies and focus on industries that weren’t being embraced by Cambodia.
When the Khmer Rouge was toppled, the majority of Cambodians were only trained as farmers because many of the highly-skilled workers and academics had been murdered. Without a strong educational base, it has been hard for the country to rebuild itself quickly enough to enter the modern world economically. It is has been in the past decade or so that industries like tourism have brought more international money into the economy but it has not always been invested wisely in a way that would promote growth.
If you consider modern factors, there are several things which make Cambodia poor. The first is corruption which prevents a fair distribution of wealth between the classes. The elite citizens are making the most of foreign investment from wealthier Asian countries but it is not flowing down to millions of citizens.
On a more systemic level, there has also been inadequate funding for things like education, health and transport which makes it harder for rural workers to move into other jobs or expand their businesses.
There is some positive movement, though, and the number of people living below the poverty line has halved in the past decade. However, there are still 11 million people (out of 15 million) who are classed as ‘poor’ or ‘nearly poor’. Many of the ‘nearly poor’ would fall back into poverty if they lost just 30 cents a day.