What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Cambodia?

Arable land and water are major natural resources in Cambodia.
Arable land and water are major natural resources in Cambodia.

Cambodia is an Asian nation, spanning roughly 69,898 square miles. The nation is considered one of the most rapidly growing economies on the continent. At the moment, international financial organizations consider Cambodia to be one of the lower middle-income nations. In 2017, the Cambodian gross domestic product was ranked as the 105th highest in the world, according to World Bank data, while its per capita gross domestic product was ranked as the 141st highest in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund. The Cambodian economy is reliant on several natural resources with the most important ones being the arable land, water, and minerals.

Natural Resources of Cambodia


Cambodia has been blessed with a variety of mineral resources that have the potential to contribute significantly to the economy. Some of the most critical minerals in Cambodia include iron ore, copper, and gold. Most of Cambodia's mineral resources are yet to be adequately exploited due to several factors. As a result of the low rate of mineral exploitation in Cambodia, the mining sector only contributes dismally to the country's gross domestic product. In 2005, the Cambodian government estimated that the mining sector contributed roughly 0.4% of the country's gross domestic product. At the time, the Cambodian labor department estimated that it accounted for approximately 0.2% of the Cambodian gross domestic product. The Cambodian government passed laws to increase the significance of the country's mineral sector and trying to attract foreign investors.


From 1994 to 2006, the Cambodian government issued two licenses for gold exploration in the country. The gold exploration in Cambodia was successful, and several gold reserves were discovered in the nation in areas such as Andoung Meas and Ban Lung. At the moment, an Australian company, Great Australian Resources Limited, has the right to mine for gold in Cambodia after it acquired Liberty Mining International. In 2006, Great Australian Resources Limited conducted further exploration into the gold reserves of Cambodia.


Cambodia has vast deposits of oil which is part of the most important natural resources. Despite the vast amounts of oil within Cambodia's borders, the nation has not begun to exploit it commercially. Since Cambodia has not begun using its oil reserves, the country is forced to import petroleum products from other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Data from the Cambodian government indicated that the nation had six offshore regions where oil was explored as well as 19 onshore regions. Experts believe that Cambodia's offshore blocks, particularly Block A, are more likely to produce oil first before the onshore blocks. One of the blocks is considered to have close to 30 million barrels of oil. The Cambodian government agreed with a company based in Singapore to share any revenue from the Block A offshore field. The major challenge facing the Cambodian oil industry is the fluctuation of global oil prices which discouraged companies such as Chevron from investing in the Cambodian oil sector.

Natural Gas

Cambodia also has significant deposits of natural gas located both onshore and offshore. Like Cambodia's oil reserves, the country's reserves of natural gas are yet to be exploited. Because Cambodia is believed to have vast deposits of natural gas, companies from all over the world have expressed interest in exploring for gas in the country. One of the first companies that began exploring for natural gas in Cambodia was the Japanese firm Japan Oil Gas Metals Corporation. According to some experts, Cambodia is expected to be one of the leading producers of natural gas in the future.

Arable Land

In Cambodia, according to statistics from the World Bank, roughly 22% of the country's land was considered arable. The amount of arable land in Cambodia has been increasing steadily since the early 1990s due to government policies that encouraged agriculture. Agriculture is one of Cambodia's most important economic sectors since in 2012 it contributed roughly 35% of the country's gross domestic product. Agriculture's contribution to the Cambodian gross domestic product has decreased significantly and in 1985 it contributed close to 90% of the country's gross domestic product. The Cambodian labor department estimated that in 2010 close to 60% of the Cambodian labor force was employed in the agrarian sector. Some of Cambodia's most essential crops include rice, cassava, and soybeans. Due to the importance of agriculture to the Cambodian economy, the government has put in place several measures to grow the agricultural sector. The agricultural sector has been identified as having the potential to reduce poverty in Cambodia.


Rice is the most valuable crop to the Cambodian people, and it is grown in some areas. The most valuable rice growing areas in Cambodia is located in several provinces such as Prey Veng, Kampong Thum, and Kandal. The amount of rice grown in other areas is significantly lower than the quantities of rice in these regions. Despite the importance of rice to the Cambodian people, the nation has one of the lowest rice produced per hectare on the Asian continent. The Cambodian government has introduced new breeds of rice to increase the country's rice yields.


Cambodian farmers keep a variety of livestock such as buffaloes, goats, and cattle. The most crucial livestock in Cambodia are the oxen and buffaloes since they are used to prepare rice fields before cultivation. During the 1960s and the 1970s, the number of livestock in Cambodia has been declining which hampered the expansion of the country's agricultural sector.


Cambodia has been blessed with a diverse array of forests that range from mangrove forests. The World Bank estimated that in 2015, forests covered roughly 53.6% of the nation's territory. Cambodia's forest cover has been declining steadily since 2004 due to extensive exploitation. Cambodian forests are mainly used to produce firewood and timber. The major challenge facing the Cambodian forestry industry is the fact that it relies on child labor. The Cambodian government is actively working to eradicate child labor in the forestry sector.

The Cambodian Economy

For close to two decades, the Cambodian economy has developed at a rapid rate. Data indicated that from 1995 to 2017, the Cambodian economy was the sixth most rapidly developing in the world. Financial experts believe that the Cambodian economy will continue to grow in the coming years.


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