in Cambodia - Choose Your Destination
Cambodia has a land area of 181,035 square kilometers
in the southwestern part of the Indochina peninsula,
about 20 percent of which is used for agriculture.
It lies completely within the tropics with its
southern most points slightly more than 10? above
the Equator. The country capital city is Phnom
borders are shared with Thailand and the Lao People's
Democratic Republic on the West and the North,
and the Social Republic of Viet Nam on the East
and the Southeast. The country is bounded on the
Southeast by the Gulf of Thailand. In comparison
with neighbors, Cambodia is a geographical contact
country administratively composed of 20 provinces,
three of which have relatively short maritime
boundaries, 2 municipalities, 172 districts, and
1,547 communes. The country has a coastline of
435 km and extensive mangrove stands, some of
which are relatively undisturbed.
The dominant features of the Cambodian landscape
are the large, almost generally located, Tonle
Sap (Great Lake) and the Bassac River Systems
and the Mekong River, which crosses the country
from North to South. Surrounding the Central Plains
which covered three quarters of the country's
area are the more densely forested and sparsely
populated highlands, comprising: the Elephant
Mountains and Cardamom Mountain of the southwest
and western regions; the Dangrek Mountains of
the North adjoining of the Korat Plateau of Thailand;
and Rattanakiri Plateau and Chhlong highlands
on the east merging with the Central Highlands
of Viet Nam.
The Tonle Sap Basin-Mekong Lowlands region consists
mainly of plains with elevations generally of
less than 100 meters. As the elevation increases,
the terrain becomes more rolling and dissected.
The Cardamom Mountains in the southwest rise to
more than 1,500 meters and is oriented generally
in a northwest-southeast direction. The highest
mountain in Cambodia -Phnom Aural, at 1.771meters
- is in the eastern part of this range.
The Elephant Range, an extension of Cardamom Mountains,
runs towards the south and the southeast and rises
to elevations of between 500 and 1,000 meters.
These two range are bordered on the west are narrow
coastal plain facing the gulf of Thailand that
contains Kampong Som Bay. The Dangrek Mountains
at the northern rim of Tonle Sap Basin, consisting
of a steep escarpment on the southern edge of
the Korat Plateau in Thailand, marks the boundary
between Thailand and Cambodia. The average elevation
of about 500 meters with the highest points reaching
more than 700 meters. Between the northern part
of the Cardamom ranges and the western part of
the Dangrek, lies and extension of the Tonle Sap
Basin that merges into the plains in Thailand,
allowing easy accesses from the border of Bangkok.
The Mekong River Cambodia's largest river, dominates
the hydrology of the country. The river originates
in mainland China, flows through Myanmar, Laos,
Thailand before entering Cambodia. At Phnom Penh,
with alternative arms, the Bassak River from the
south, and the Tonle Sap River linking with the
" Great Lake " itself -Tonle Sap - form
northwest. It continues further southeastward
to its lower delta in Viet Nam and to the South
The section of Mekong River passing through Cambodia
lies within the topical wet and dry zone. It has
a pronounced dry season during the Northern Hemisphere
winter, with about 80 percent of the annual rainfall
occurring during the southwest monsoon in May-October.
The Mekong River average annual flow at Krati?
of 441 km3 is estimated as 93 percent of the total
Mekong run-off discharge into the sea. The discharge
at Krati? ranges from a minimum of 1,250m3/s to
the maximum 66,700m3/s.
The role of Tonle Sap as a buffer of the Mekong
River system floods and the source of beneficial
dry season flows warrants explanation. The Mekong
River swells with waters during the monsoon reaching
a flood discharge of 40,000m3/s at Phnom Penh.
By about mid-June, the flow of Mekong and the
Bassak River fed by monsoon rains increases to
a point where its outlets through the delta cannot
handle the enormous volume of water, flooding
extensive adjacent floodplains for 4-7 months.
At this point, instead of overflowing its backs,
its floodwaters reserve the flow of the Tonle
Sap River (about 120 km in length), which then
has the maximum inflow rate of 1.8m/s and enters
the Grate Lake, the largest natural lake in Southeast
Asia, increasing the size of the lake from about
2,600 km2 to 10,00 km2 and exceptionally to 13,000
km2 and raising the water level by and average
7m at the height of the flooding. This specificity
of the Tonle Sap makes it the only "river
with return " in the world.
After the Mekong's water crest (when its downstream
channels can handle the volume of water), the
flow reverses and water flows out of the engorged
lake. The Great Lake then acts as a natural flood
retention basin. When the floods subside, water
starts flowing out of the Great Lake, reaching
a maximum outflow rate of 2.0m/s and, over the
dry season, increase mainstream flows by about
16 percent, thus helping to reduce salinity intrusion
in the lower Mekong Delta in Viet Nam. By the
time the lake water level drops to its minimum
surface size, a band 20-30 km wide of inundate
forest is left dry with deposits of a new layer
of sediment. This forest, which is of great significance
for fish, is now greatly reduced in size through
salvation and deforestation. The area flood around
Phnom Penh and down to the Vietnamese border is
about 7,000 km2.