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Geography of Cambodia


Situated in the southwest corner of the Indochina Peninsula, Cambodia has an area of 181,040 km² (69,900 mi²), extending 730 km (454 mi) northeast to southwest and 512 km (318 mi) southeast to northwest. It is bounded on the northeast by Laos, on the east and southeast by Vietnam, on the southwest by the Gulf of Thailand, and on the west, northwest and north by Thailand, with a total boundary length of 2,572 km (1,598 mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Cambodia is about twice the size of Portugal. In 1982, Cambodia signed an agreement with Vietnam on their mutual maritime frontier. A treaty delineating the land border was signed in December 1985. Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh, is located in the south-central part of the country.

Cambodia is a country of forested mountains and well-watered plains. The central part of the country forms a gigantic basin for the Tonle Sap, or Great Lake, and the Mekong River, which flows down from Laos to the southern border with Vietnam. Between the Tonle Sap and the Gulf of Thailand lie the Cardamom Mountains and the Elephant Range, which rise abruptly from the sea and from the eastern plains. In the north, the Dangrek Mountains, 320 km (200 mi) long and 300-750 m (1,000-2,500 ft) high, mark the Thailand frontier. The short coastline has an important natural harbour, Kompong Som Bay (Chhak Kampong Saom), where the port of Kompong Som (Kampóng Saom, formerly Sihanoukville) is located.

The Mekong and the Tonle Sap dominate the life and economy of Cambodia. The Mekong overflows during the rainy season, deposits vast quantities of alluvial soil, and, backing toward the Tonle Sap, causes that lake to increase in size from about 2,590 km² (1000 mi²) to almost 24,605 km² (9,500 mi²).

The climate is tropical, with a wet season from May through November and a dry season from December to April. Temperatures range from 10-38°C (68-97°F), and humidity is consistently high. Rainfall averages 127-140 cm (50-55 in) in the central basin to about 508 cm (200 in) in the southwestern mountains.


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

: total: 181,035 sq km

land: 176,515 sq km

water: 4,520 sq km
Area - comparative : about twice the size of Portugal
Land boundaries : total: 2,572 km

border countries: Laos 541 km, Thailand 803 km, Vietnam 1,228 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 extremes
: lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Phnum Aoral 1,810 m
Natural resources

: oil and gas, timber, gemstones, iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydro power potential
Land use : arable land: 20.44%

permanent crops: 0.59%

other: 78.97% (2005)
Irrigated land

: 2,850 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
: 476.1 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
: total: 4.08 cu km/yr (1%/0%/98%)
per capita: 290 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
: monsoonal rains (June to November); flooding; occasional droughts
Environment - current issues
: illegal logging activities throughout the country and strip mining for gems in the western region along the border with Thailand have resulted in habitat loss and declining biodiversity (in particular, destruction of mangrove swamps threatens natural fisheries); soil erosion; in rural areas, most of the population does not have access to potable water; declining fish stocks because of illegal fishing and overfishing
Environment - international agreements
: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, 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




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