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THIS SOUTHEAST ASIAN country was a French colony until it gained independence in 1953. The country was devastated by war from 1970–75 and 1978–91, leading to the destruction of much of the country's infrastructure. It has a land area of 69,898 sq. mi. (181,035 sq. km.), a population of 13,971,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 201 people per sq. mi. (78 people per sq. km.). Altogether, 13 percent of the land in the country is used for arable purposes, with a further 11 percent used for meadows and pasture. Officially, about 74 percent of the country is forested, but there has been massive deforestation since the 1980s, in spite of government claims to have limited the problem. This, in turn, has led to ...

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