Geography of Cambodia


Cambodia has an area of 181,035 square kilometers (69,898 sq mi) and lies entirely within the tropics, between latitudes 10° and 15°N, and longitudes 102° and108°E. It borders Thailand to the north and west, Laos to the northeast, and Vietnam to the east and southeast. It has a 443-kilometer (275 mi) coastline along the Gulf of Thailand.

The most distinctive geographical feature is the lacustrine plain, formed by the inundations of the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), measuring about 2,590 square kilometers (1,000 sq mi) during the dry season and expanding to about 24,605 square kilometers (9,500 sq mi) during the rainy season. This densely populated plain, which is devoted to wet rice cultivation, is the heartland of Cambodia. Much of this area has been designated as a biosphere reserve.

Most (about 75%) of the country lies at elevations of less than 100 metres (330 ft) above sea level, the exceptions being the Cardamom Mountains (highest elevation 1,813 m / 5,948 ft) and their southeast extension the Dâmrei Mountains ("Elephant Mountains") (elevation range 500–1,000 m or 1,640–3,280 ft), as well the steep escarpment of the Dângrêk Mountains (average elevation 500 m / 1,640 ft) along the border with Thailand's Isan region. The highest elevation of Cambodia is Phnom Aoral, near Pursat in the center of the country, at 1,813 meters (5,948 ft)


Cambodia's climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia, is dominated by monsoons, which are known as tropical wet and dry because of the distinctly marked seasonal differences.

Cambodia has a temperature range from 21 to 35 °C (69.8 to 95 °F) and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to March. The country experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February.

Cambodia has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C (71.6 °F) and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can rise up to 40 °C (104 °F) around April. Disastrous flooding, due to extremely heavy rainfall, occurred in 2001 and again in 2002. Yet almost every year there is flooding to some degree.


Cambodia has a wide variety of plants and animals. There are 212 mammal species, 536 bird species, 240 reptile species, 850 freshwater fishspecies (Tonle Sap Lake area), and 435 marine fish species. Much of this biodiversity is contained around the Tonle Sap Lake and the surrounding biosphere.[51] The Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve is a unique ecological phenomenon surrounding the Tonle Sap. It encompasses the lake and nine provinces: Kampong ThomSiem Reap,BattambangPursatKampong ChhnangBanteay MeancheyPailinOddar Meancheyand Preah Vihear. In 1997, it was successfully nominated as a UNESCOBiosphere Reserve.[52] Other key habitats include the dry forest of Mondolkiri and Ratanakiri provinces and the Cardamom Mountains ecosystem, including Bokor National Park, Botum-Sakor National Park, and the Phnom Aural and Phnom Samkos wildlife sanctuaries.

The rate of deforestation in Cambodia is one of the highest in the world. Cambodia's primary rainforest cover fell from over 70% in 1969 to just 31% in 2007. In total, Cambodia lost 25,000 square kilometres (9,700 sq mi) of forest between 1990 and 2005—3,340 km2 (1,290 sq mi) of which was primary forest. Since 2007, less than 3,220 km2 (1,243 sq mi) of primary forest remain with the result that the future sustainability of the forest reserves of Cambodia is under severe threat, with illegal loggers looking to generate revenue.

Administrative divisions

Capital (Reach Theani) and Provinces (Khaet) are Cambodia's First-level administrative divisions. Cambodian areas are divided into 23 provinces and the capital. Municipalities, Districts (Srok) and Khan are the second-level administrative divisions of Cambodia. The provinces are divided into 26 municipalities and 159 districts, and the capital is divided into 8 khan. The districts in turn are further divided into communes (khum) and sangkat. The municipalities and khan are divided into sangkat.


In 2010 Cambodia's per capita income in PPP is $2,470 and $814 in Nominal Per capita. Cambodia's per capita income is rapidly increasing, but is low compared to other countries in the region. Most rural households depend on agriculture and its related sub-sectors. Rice, fish, timber, garments and rubber are Cambodia's major exports. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) reintroduced more than 750 traditional rice varieties to Cambodia from its rice seed bank in the Philippines.[54] These varieties had been collected in the 1960s.

In 1987, the Australian government funded IRRI to help Cambodia improve its rice production. By 2000, Cambodia was again self-sufficient in rice.[55] However, few Cambodian farmers grow other crops, leaving them vulnerable to crop failure. In recent years, various international aid organisation's have begun crop diversification programs to encourage farmers to grow other crops. The recovery of Cambodia's economy slowed dramatically in 1997–98, because of the regional economic crisis, civil violence, and political infighting. Foreign investment and tourism also fell off drastically. Since then however, growth has been steady. In 1999, the first full year of peace in 30 years, progress was made on economic reforms and growth resumed at 5.0%.

Based on the Economist, IMF: Annual average GDP growth for the period 2001-2010 was 7.7% making it one of the world's top ten countries with the highest Annual average GDP growth. Tourism was Cambodia's fastest growing industry, with arrivals increasing from 219,000 in 1997 to 2 million in 2007. In 2004, inflation was at 1.7% and exports at $1.6 billion USD. As of 2005, GDP per capita in PPP terms was $2,200, which ranked 178th (out of 233) countries.[56]

The older population often lacks education, particularly in the countryside, which suffers from a lack of basic infrastructure. Fear of renewed political instability and corruption within the government discourage foreign investment and delay foreign aid, although there has been significant aid from bilateral and multilateral donors. Donors pledged $504 million to the country in 2004,[57] while the Asian Development Bank alone has provided $850 million in loans, grants, and technical assistance.


The tourism industry is the country's second-greatest source of hard currency after the textile industry.[45] Between January and December 2007, visitor arrivals were 2.0 million, an increase of 18.5% over the same period in 2006. Most visitors (51%) arrived through Siem Reap with the remainder (49%) through Phnom Penh and other destinations.[59] Other tourist destinations include Sihanoukville in the south east which has several popular beaches, and the area aroundKampot and Kep including the Bokor Hill Station. Tourism has increased steadily year on year in the relatively stable period since the 1993 UNTAC elections as in 1993 there were 118,183 international tourists and in 2009 there were 2,161,577 international tourists.[60]

Most of the tourists were Japanese, Chinese, Americans, South Koreans and French people, said the report, adding that the industry earned some 140 million U.S. dollars in 2007, accounting for almost 10 percent of the kingdom's gross national products. Meanwhile, another Chinese-language newspaper the Jianhua Daily on Monday quoted industry official as saying that Cambodia will have three million foreign tourist arrival in 2010 and five million in 2015. Tourism has been one of Cambodia's triple pillar industries. The Angkor Wat historical park in Siem Reap province, the beach in Sihanoukville municipality and the Royal Palace in capital city Phnom Penh are the main attractions for foreign tourists.

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