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Cambodia Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Cambodia Map

Introduction

Background

Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire, ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863, and it became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In April 1975, after a seven-year struggle, communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off 20 years of civil war.

The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a cease-fire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders were tried for crimes against humanity by a hybrid UN-Cambodian tribunal supported by international assistance. In 2018, the tribunal heard its final cases, but it remains in operation to hear appeals. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed. In October 2004, King Norodom SIHANOUK abdicated the throne and his son, Prince Norodom SIHAMONI, was selected to succeed him. Local (Commune Council) elections were held in Cambodia in 2012, with little of the violence that preceded prior elections. National elections in July 2013 were disputed, with the opposition - the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) - boycotting the National Assembly. The political impasse was ended nearly a year later, with the CNRP agreeing to enter parliament in exchange for commitments by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to electoral and legislative reforms. The CNRP made further gains in local commune elections in June 2017, accelerating sitting Prime Minister Hun SEN’s efforts to marginalize the CNRP before national elections in 2018. Hun Sen arrested CNRP President Kem SOKHA in September 2017. The Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP in November 2017 and banned its leaders from participating in politics for at least five years. The CNRP’s seats in the National Assembly were redistributed to smaller, less influential opposition parties, while all of the CNRP’s 5,007 seats in the commune councils throughout the country were reallocated to the CPP. With the CNRP banned, the CPP swept the 2018 national elections, winning all 125 National Assembly seats and effectively turning the country into a one-party state.

Geography

Location

Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos

Geographic coordinates

13 00 N, 105 00 E

Map references

Southeast Asia

Area

total: 181,035 sq km

land:176,515 sq km

water:4,520 sq km

country comparison to the world: 90

Area - comparative

one and a half times the size of Pennsylvania; slightly smaller than Oklahoma

Land boundaries

total: 2,530 km

border countries (3):Laos 555 km, Thailand 817 km, Vietnam 1158 km

Coastline

443 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone:24 nm

exclusive economic zone:200 nm

continental shelf:200 nm

Climate

tropical; rainy, monsoon season (May to November); dry season (December to April); little seasonal temperature variation

Terrain

mostly low, flat plains; mountains in southwest and north

Elevation

highest point: Phnum Aoral 1,810 m

lowest point:Gulf of Thailand 0 m

mean elevation:126 m

Natural resources

oil and gas, timber, gemstones, iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 32.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 22.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 8.5% (2018 est.)

forest:56.5% (2018 est.)

other:11.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

3,540 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

476.1 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

population concentrated in the southeast, particularly in and around the capital of Phnom Penh; further distribution is linked closely to the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers

Natural hazards

monsoonal rains (June to November); flooding; occasional droughts

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified:Law of the Sea

Geography - note

a land of paddies and forests dominated by the Mekong River and Tonle Sap (Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake)

People and Society

Population

17,304,363 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Nationality

noun: Cambodian(s)

adjective:Cambodian

Ethnic groups

Khmer 97.6%, Cham 1.2%, Chinese 0.1%, Vietnamese 0.1%, other 0.9% (2013 est.)

Languages

Khmer (official) 96.3%, other 3.7% (2008 est.)

Religions

Buddhist (official) 97.9%, Muslim 1.1%, Christian 0.5%, other 0.6% (2013 est.)

Demographic profile

Cambodia is a predominantly rural country with among the most ethnically and religiously homogenous populations in Southeast Asia: more than 95% of its inhabitants are Khmer and more than 95% are Buddhist.  The population’s size and age structure shrank and then rebounded during the 20thcentury as a result of conflict and mass death.  During the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979 as many as 1.5 to 2 million people are estimated to have been killed or died as a result of starvation, disease, or overwork – a loss of about 25% of the population.  At the same time, emigration was high, and the fertility rate sharply declined.  In the 1980s, after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge, fertility nearly doubled and reached pre-Khmer Rouge levels of close to 7 children per woman, reflecting in part higher infant survival rates.  The baby boom was followed by a sustained fertility decline starting in the early 1990s, eventually decreasing from 3.8 in 2000 to 2.9 in 2010, although the rate varied by income, education, and rural versus urban location.  Despite continuing fertility reduction, Cambodia still has a youthful population that is likely to maintain population growth through population momentum. Improvements have also been made in mortality, life expectancy, and contraceptive prevalence, although reducing malnutrition among children remains stalled.  Differences in health indicators are pronounced between urban and rural areas, which experience greater poverty.

Cambodia is predominantly a country of migration, driven by the search for work, education, or marriage.  Internal migration is more prevalent than international migration, with rural to urban migration being the most common, followed by rural to rural migration.  Urban migration focuses on the pursuit of unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in Phnom Penh, with men working mainly in the construction industry and women working in garment factories.  Most Cambodians who migrate abroad do so illegally using brokers because it is cheaper and faster than through formal channels, but doing so puts them at risk of being trafficked for forced labor or sexual exploitation.  Young Cambodian men and women migrate short distances across the Thai border using temporary passes to work in agriculture, while others migrate long distances primarily into Thailand and Malaysia for work in agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, and domestic service.  Cambodia was a refugee sending country in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime, its ousting by the Vietnamese invasion, and the resultant civil war.  Tens of thousands of Cambodians fled to Thailand; more than 100,000 were resettled in the US in the 1980s.  Cambodia signed a multi-million dollar agreement with Australia in 2014 to voluntarily resettle refugees seeking shelter in Australia.  However, the deal has proven to be a failure because of poor conditions and a lack of support services for the few refugees willing to accept the offer.

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Cambodia

conventional short form:Cambodia

local long form:Preahreacheanachakr Kampuchea (phonetic transliteration)

local short form:Kampuchea

former:Khmer Republic, Democratic Kampuchea, People's Republic of Kampuchea, State of Cambodia

etymology:the English name Cambodia is an anglicization of the French Cambodge, which is the French transliteration of the native name Kampuchea

Government type

parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Capital

name: Phnom Penh

geographic coordinates:11 33 N, 104 55 E

time difference:UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: Phnom Penh translates as "Penh's Hill" in Khmer; the city takes its name from the present Wat Phnom (Hill Temple), the tallest religious structure in the city, whose establishment, according to legend, was inspired in the 14th century by a pious nun, Daun PENH

Administrative divisions

24 provinces (khett, singular and plural) and 1 municipality (krong, singular and plural)

provinces: Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Kampot, Kandal, Kep, Koh Kong, Kratie, Mondolkiri, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin, Preah Sihanouk, Preah Vihear, Prey Veng, Pursat, Ratanakiri, Siem Reap, Stung Treng, Svay Rieng, Takeo, Tbong Khmum

municipalities: Phnom Penh (Phnum Penh)

Independence

9 November 1953 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day, 9 November (1953)

Constitution

history: previous 1947; latest promulgated 21 September 1993

amendments:proposed by the monarch, by the prime minister, or by the president of the National Assembly if supported by one fourth of the Assembly membership; passage requires two-thirds majority of the Assembly membership; constitutional articles on the multiparty democratic form of government and the monarchy cannot be amended; amended 1999, 2008, 2014, 2018

Legal system

civil law system (influenced by the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia) customary law, Communist legal theory, and common law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only:at least one parent must be a citizen of Cambodia

dual citizenship recognized:yes

residency requirement for naturalization:7 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King Norodom SIHAMONI (since 29 October 2004)

head of government:Prime Minister HUN SEN (since 14 January 1985); Permanent Deputy Prime Minister MEN SAM AN (since 25 September 2008); Deputy Prime Ministers SAR KHENG (since 3 February 1992), TEA BANH, Gen., HOR NAMHONG, (since 16 July 2004), BIN CHHIN (since 5 September 2007), YIM CHHAI LY (since 24 September 2008), KE KIMYAN (since 12 March 2009), AUN PORNMONIROTH (since 24 September 2012), Prak SOKONN, CHEA SOPHARA (since 5 April 2016)

cabinet:Council of Ministers named by the prime minister and appointed by the monarch

elections/appointments:monarch chosen by the 9-member Royal Council of the Throne from among all eligible males of royal descent; following legislative elections, a member of the majority party or majority coalition named prime minister by the Chairman of the National Assembly and appointed by the monarch

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament of Cambodia consists of:
Senate (62 seats; 58 indirectly elected by parliamentarians and commune councils, 2 indirectly elected by the National Assembly, and 2 appointed by the monarch; members serve 6-year terms)
National Assembly (125 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections:
Senate - last held on 25 February 2018 (next to be held in 2024); National Assembly - last held on 29 July 2018 (next to be held in 2023)

election results: 
Senate - percent of vote by party - CPP 96%, FUNCINPEC 2.4%, KNUP 1.6%; seats by party - CPP 58; composition - men 53, women 9, percent of women 14.5%
National Assembly - percent of vote by party - CPP 76.9%, FUNCINPEC 5.9%, LDP 4.9%, Khmer Will Party 3.4%, other 8.9%; seats by party - CPP 125; composition - men 100, women 25, percent of women 20%; note - total Parliament of Cambodia percent of women 18.2%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Council (organized into 5- and 9-judge panels and includes a court chief and deputy chief); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 members); note - in 1997, the Cambodian Government requested UN assistance in establishing trials to prosecute former Khmer Rouge senior leaders for crimes against humanity committed during the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime; the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (also called the Khmer Rouge Tribunal) was established in 2006 and began hearings for the first case in 2009; court proceedings remain ongoing in 2019

judge selection and term of office:Supreme Court and Constitutional Council judge candidates recommended by the Supreme Council of Magistracy, a 17-member body chaired by the monarch and includes other high-level judicial officers; judges of both courts appointed by the monarch; Supreme Court judges appointed for life; Constitutional Council judges appointed for 9-year terms with one-third of the court renewed every 3 years

subordinate courts:Appellate Court; provincial and municipal courts; Military Court

Political parties and leaders

Cambodia National Rescue Party or CNRP [KHEM SOKHA] (dissolved by the Cambodian Supreme Court in November 2017; formed from a 2012 merger of the Sam Rangsi Party or SRP and the former Human Rights Party or HRP [KHEM SOKHA, also spelled KEM SOKHA])
Cambodian Nationality Party or CNP [SENG SOKHENG]
Cambodian People's Party or CPP [HUN SEN]
Khmer Economic Development Party or KEDP [HUON REACH CHAMROEUN]
Khmer National Unity Party or KNUP [NHEK BUN CHHAY]
Khmer Will Party [KONG MONIKA]
League for Democracy Party or LDP [KHEM Veasna]
National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia or FUNCINPEC [Prince NORODOM RANARIDDH]

International organization participation

ADB, ARF, ASEAN, CICA, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MINUSMA, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNISFA, UNMISS, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador CHUM SOUNRY (since 17 September 2018)

chancery:4530 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011

telephone:[1] (202) 726-7742

FAX:[1] (202) 726-8381

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Patrick MURPHY (since 23 October 2019)

telephone:[855] (23) 728-000

embassy:#1, Street 96, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh

mailing address:Unit 8166, Box P, APO AP 96546

FAX:[855] (23) 728-600

Flag description

three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (double width), and blue with a white, three-towered temple, representing Angkor Wat, outlined in black in the center of the red band; red and blue are traditional Cambodian colors

note: only national flag to prominently incorporate an actual identifiable building into its design (a few other national flags - those of Afghanistan, San Marino, Portugal, and Spain - show small generic buildings as part of their coats of arms on the flag)

National symbol(s)

Angkor Wat temple, kouprey (wild ox); national colors: red, blue

National anthem

name: "Nokoreach" (Royal Kingdom)

lyrics/music:CHUON NAT/F. PERRUCHOT and J. JEKYLL

note: adopted 1941, restored 1993; the anthem, based on a Cambodian folk tune, was restored after the defeat of the Communist regime

Economy

Economic overview

Cambodia has experienced strong economic growth over the last decade; GDP grew at an average annual rate of over 8% between 2000 and 2010 and about 7% since 2011. The tourism, garment, construction and real estate, and agriculture sectors accounted for the bulk of growth. Around 700,000 people, the majority of whom are women, are employed in the garment and footwear sector. An additional 500,000 Cambodians are employed in the tourism sector, and a further 200,000 people in construction. Tourism has continued to grow rapidly with foreign arrivals exceeding 2 million per year in 2007 and reaching 5.6 million visitors in 2017. Mining also is attracting some investor interest and the government has touted opportunities for mining bauxite, gold, iron and gems.

Still, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia, and long-term economic development remains a daunting challenge, inhibited by corruption, limited human resources, high income inequality, and poor job prospects. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the percentage of the population living in poverty decreased to 13.5% in 2016. More than 50% of the population is less than 25 years old. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the impoverished countryside, which also lacks basic infrastructure.

The World Bank in 2016 formally reclassified Cambodia as a lower middle-income country as a result of continued rapid economic growth over the past several years. Cambodia’s graduation from a low-income country will reduce its eligibility for foreign assistance and will challenge the government to seek new sources of financing. The Cambodian Government has been working with bilateral and multilateral donors, including the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and IMF, to address the country's many pressing needs; more than 20% of the government budget will come from donor assistance in 2018. A major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia's demographic imbalance.

Textile exports, which accounted for 68% of total exports in 2017, have driven much of Cambodia’s growth over the past several years. The textile sector relies on exports to the United States and European Union, and Cambodia’s dependence on its comparative advantage in textile production is a key vulnerability for the economy, especially because Cambodia has continued to run a current account deficit above 9% of GDP since 2014.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 56,749

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:less than 1 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 156

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 21,684,767

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:129.92 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 56

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: well on its way to rollout 5G services, Chinese company Huawei dealing with the infrastructure for the 5G rollout; mobile-cellular phone systems are widely used in urban areas to bypass deficiencies in the fixed-line network; mobile-phone coverage is rapidly spreading in rural areas; competition among mobile operators strong; about 50% of Cambodians own at least one smart phone; in 2018, the MPTC began a free Wi-Fi service for visitors and residents of Phnom Penh, in selected parks around the city customers can access free Wi-Fi services; fixed broadband penetration is predicted to reach over 2% by 2023; in 2021, Cambodia hopes to launch it first communications satellite into orbit (2020)

domestic:fixed-line connections stand at about 1 per 100 persons and declining; mobile-cellular usage, aided by competition among service providers, has increased to about 130 per 100 persons (2019)

international:country code - 855; landing points for MCT and AAE-1 via submarine cables providing communication to Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

mixture of state-owned, joint public-private, and privately owned broadcast media; 27 TV broadcast stations with most operating on multiple channels, including 1 state-operated station broadcasting from multiple locations, 11 stations either jointly operated or privately owned with some broadcasting from several locations; multi-channel cable and satellite systems are available (2019); 84 radio broadcast stations - 1 state-owned broadcaster with multiple stations and a large mixture of public and private broadcasters; one international broadcaster is available (2019) as well as one Chinese joint venture television station with the Ministry of Interior; several television and radio operators broadcast online only (often via Facebook) (2019)

Internet country code

.kh

Internet users

total: 6,579,808

percent of population:40% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 74

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 166,200

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 114

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 6 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers:25

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers:1,411,059 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers:680,000 mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

XU

Airports

total: 16 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 142

Airports - with paved runways

total: 6 (2019)

2,438 to 3,047 m:3

1,524 to 2,437 m:2

914 to 1,523 m:1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 10 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m:2 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m:7 (2013)

under 914 m:1 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Railways

total: 642 km (2014)

narrow gauge:642 km 1.000-m gauge (2014)

note: under restoration

country comparison to the world: 107

Roadways

total: 47,263 km (2013)

paved:12,239 km (2013)

unpaved:35,024 km (2013)

country comparison to the world: 84

Waterways

3,700 km (mainly on Mekong River) (2012)

country comparison to the world: 28

Merchant marine

total: 257

by type:container ship 2, general cargo 170, oil tanker 19, other 66 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 59

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Sihanoukville (Kampong Saom)

river port(s):Phnom Penh (Mekong)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces: High Command Headquarters, Royal Cambodian Army, Royal Khmer Navy, Royal Cambodian Air Force, Royal Gendarmerie; the National Committee for Maritime Security (performs Coast Guard functions and has representation from military and civilian agencies) (2020)

Military expenditures

2.3% of GDP (2019 est.)

2.2% of GDP (2018)

2.1% of GDP (2017)

2% of GDP (2016)

1.8% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 41

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimates for the size of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces vary; approximately 110,000 total active troops including about 3,000 Navy and 1,000 Air Force; est. 10,000 Gendarmerie (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are armed largely with older Chinese and Russian-origin equipment; it has received limited amounts of more modern (mostly second-hand) equipment since 2010 with China as the principal provider, followed by Ukraine (2020)

Military deployments

200 Central African Republic (MINUSCA); 175 Lebanon (UNIFIL); 290 Mali (MINUSMA) (Jan 2021)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for compulsory and voluntary military service (2019)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Cambodia is concerned about Laos' extensive upstream dam construction; Cambodia and Thailand dispute sections of boundary; in 2011 Thailand and Cambodia resorted to arms in the dispute over the location of the boundary on the precipice surmounted by Preah Vihear Temple ruins, awarded to Cambodia by an International Court of Justice decision in 1962 and part of a UN World Heritage site; Cambodia accuses Vietnam of a wide variety of illicit cross-border activities; progress on a joint development area with Vietnam is hampered by an unresolved dispute over sovereignty of offshore islands

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 57,444 (2019)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit Cambodian men, women, and children in forced labor and sex trafficking in Cambodia and abroad, and foreign nationals are trafficked in Cambodia; Cambodian adults and children migrate to other countries in the region or increasingly to the Middle East where traffickers force them to work in agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, and domestic servitude; significant numbers of Cambodian men and boys are subject to forced labor on Thai ships in international waters and may experience physical abuse, nonpayment or underpayment of wages, and confinement at sea for years; brick kiln owners exploit thousands of Cambodians, including children, through debt-based coercion; children from poor families are vulnerable to forced labor, often with the complicity of their parents, in domestic servitude, forced begging, or street vending in Thailand and Vietnam; Cambodian and ethnic Vietnamese women and girls from rural areas move to cities and tourist areas where they are sex trafficked

tier rating:Tier 2 Watch List — Cambodia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; authorities continued to prosecute and convict traffickers and utilized new victim identification and data collection technologies; the government enacted a five-year national action plan to combat human trafficking; however, corruption continued to impede law enforcement efforts, criminal proceedings, and services to victims; some corrupt officials may have profited directly from sex and labor trafficking or accepted bribes to dismiss charges or reduce sentences; insufficient judicial monitoring systems enabled suspected traffickers to flee before trial; authorities failed to issue formal guidance allowing the use of undercover techniques in anti-trafficking investigations (2020)

Illicit drugs

narcotics-related corruption reportedly involving some in the government, military, and police; limited methamphetamine production; vulnerable to money laundering due to its cash-based economy and porous borders

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