Population and censuses

Cambodians gathering along the Chaktomuk riverside in Phnom Penh to watch boat racing during the Water Festival.

Cambodians gathering along the Chaktomuk riverside in Phnom Penh to watch boat racing during the Water Festival. Photo by Patrik M. Loeff, taken on 24 November 2007. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Population

Provisional results from Cambodia’s 2019 census, released in August, 2019,  gave a total population of 15.29 million people.1 The provisional figures indicate 7.42 million men and 7.87 million women. Annual population growth fell from 1.5 percent over the period 1998–2008 to 1.2 percent between 2008 and 2019.

Some key statistics:2

  • 78 percent of the population live in rural areas
  • Two-thirds of the population are working age (15–64), around 29 percent younger than 15 and around 5 percent 65 and older
  • The average age at marriage is 23.7 years for women and 26.2 years for men; both are marrying later in life than in previous years.
  • Life expectancy at birth is 67 for men and 71 for women.

Censuses

There are three categories of census conducted by the National Institute of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning, in cooperation with relevant institutions:3

  • Population census, which covers the population of the whole country
  • Agricultural census, which covers agricultural statistics of the whole country 
  • Economic census, which covers establishments of businesses and enterprises in the whole country 

The Statistics Law of Cambodia governs everything to do with conducting censuses. Censuses must be conducted at least once every ten years, with inter-censal surveys to facilitate annual updates of census data. This provides accurate and reliable economic and social statistics for government policy makers and other users.

General Cambodia Population Census surveys were conducted in 19984, 2008 and 2019 with financial and technical assistance from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). These censuses recorded:

  • total population
  • growth rates
  • population density
  • total fertility
  • infant and maternal mortality rates
  • literate population
  • age structure
  • mother tongue language
  • ethnic groups
  • religion
  • disability
  • other data.

Censuses are carried out through house-to-house visits over a ten-day period. Everyone staying in Cambodia at census time is counted, including foreigners, although foreign diplomatic corps and their families are excluded. Census results are produced in hard and copy, and also made available through the National Institute of Statistics’ website.

The most recent census would normally have been due for 2018, but because there was a general election in 2018, the census was moved to March 2019.5

Population trends

Like other fast developing countries, Cambodia’s growing population is adding more demand to aging and/or inadequate infrastructure, and also adding to the pressure around land issues. In addition, while the majority of the population still live in rural areas, there is an increasing trend towards urbanization, as the country changes from an agrarian-based to a service- and production-based economy.

Percentage of internal migrants by migration stream

Migration type6Percentage of migrants
Rural to rural58.4%
Rural to urban24.5%
Urban to rural5.1%
Urban to urban12.0%

Urban-rural population 2008-2013

 1998720082013
Total11,437,65613,395,68214,676,591
Urban1,795,5752,614,0273,146,213
Rural9,642,08110,781,65511,530,378

While Cambodia has had a notably young population since age statistics started to be recorded again in the 1990s following years of civil war, data show an upward trend in life expectancy, which should also continue to lift the median age of the population.

Census results

Census results1998*200882013
Life expectancy at birth 62.468.9
Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births 6033
Median age16.821.024.5

* The 1998 census did not report on life expectancy, infant mortality or median age; however a median age calculation for 1998 was reported on page 36 of the 2008 full census report.

Related to population and census

Last updated: 12 August 2019

References

  • 1. Ministry of Information August 2019. Provisional total for General Population Census 2019. 7 August 2019. https://www.information.gov.kh/detailnews/326112  Accessed 12 August 2019.
  • 2. Ministry of Planning. “National Strategic Development Plan 2014–2018.” Accessed 8 January 2015. http://www.mop.gov.kh/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=XOvSGmpI4tE%3d&tabid=216&mid=705
  • 3. National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning. “Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey 2013.” Accessed 8 January 2015. http://www.nis.gov.kh/nis/CSES/Final Report CSES 2013.pdf.
  • 4. National Institute of Statistics.General Population Census of Cambodia 1998 Final Census Results (2nd Edition).” Accessed 8 January 2015.http://www.nis.gov.kh/nis/uploadFile/pdf/CensusResult98.pdf.
  • 5. Sen David 2017. “Election delays 2018 census”. Khmer Times 8 November 2017. http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5089529/election-delays-2018-census/ Accessed 25 November 2017
  • 6. National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning. “Cambodia Inter-Censal Survey 2013, Final Report.” Accessed 8 January 2015.
  • 7. National Institute of Statistics. “General Population Census of Cambodia 1998 Final Census Results (2nd Edition).” Accessed 8 January 2015. http://www.nis.gov.kh/nis/uploadFile/pdf/CensusResult98.pdf. National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning. “Cambodia Inter-Censal Survey 2013, Final Report.” Accessed 8 January 2015.
  • 8. National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning. “General Population Census of Cambodia 2008: Final Census Results, Figures at a Glance.” Accessed 22 September 2015.http://www.nis.gov.kh/nis/census2008/Census.pdf. National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning. “General Population Census of Cambodia 2008: National Report on Final Census Results.” Accessed 22 September 2015. http://camnut.weebly.com/uploads/2/0/3/8/20389289/2009_census_2008.pdf
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