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Cambodia’s population hits 15.5M: Latest census

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Phnom Penh has the highest population density in the country with 3,361 people per square kilometre of land according to the census report. Yousos Apdoulrashim

Cambodia’s population hits 15.5M: Latest census

The National Committee for the General Population Census announced on January 26 that the Cambodian population had risen to 15.5 million, an increase of 16 per cent from the 2008 census figure of 13.4 million people.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, who is also chairman of the committee, said more than 50,000 census officials had contacted 3.5 million families to gather information across the country.

Officials from the Ministry of Planning’s National Institute of Statistics have revised and analysed data in collaboration with technical officials and international experts to complete the census on-time despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“According to the final [census] results on March 3, 2019, there are 15.5 million Cambodians, an increase of 16 per cent from 13.4 million people in 2008. The annual growth rate stands at 1.4 per cent for 2019. The growth rate dropped from 1.5 per cent in 2008,” Sar Kheng said.

He added that the annual growth rate drop was attributed to the successful implementation of the National Population Policy and efforts to better educate the public about the use of birth control and family planning.

The minister noted that the population growth rate remains higher than the median rate for Southeast Asian nations and that there are still many things that must be done to improve the health of the citizenry – particularly with women’s reproductive health issues such as achieving further reductions in infant and maternal mortality.

Sar Kheng continued that the census report is the only source of geographic, socio-economic and cultural data at the village level and that it was an important source of information for government planning.

He said the population density increased from 75 people per square kilometre in 2008 to 87 per square kilometre in 2019, noting that Cambodia’s overall population density remains high compared to that of the other ASEAN member states.

Phnom Penh has the highest population density in the country with 3,361 people per square kilometre of land according to the census report.

The minister then mentioned an important economic indicator that was also included in the data provided by the National Institute of Statistics: Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 was $1,694 – an almost 230 per cent rise from $739 in 2008.

UN Population Fund (UNFPA) acting representative to Cambodia Daniel Alemu remarked that a census is among the most complex and massive peacetime exercises that a nation can undertake and that it necessitates a large-scale mobilisation of resources from top to bottom.

He said this fourth population census in Cambodia was undertaken with unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic and that situation along with initial funding shortfalls and capacity gaps made this particular census quite complex to execute.

“As such, I would like to express from the onset my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the National General Population Census Committee for closely chaperoning the census process leading to its successful conclusion,” he said.

Alemu added that the 2019 census results revealed a number of demographic trends characterising Cambodia today, pointing out that trends toward development and growth served as the key takeaway for nearly every category.

Planning minister Chhay Thorn said that the 2019 census was a milestone event and the most complete conducted in its three decade history with a total cost of $9.9 million drawn from the national budget.

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