Geography of Cambodia
Cambodia is 181,035 sq km (69,898 sq. miles), around half the size of Vietnam. It is slightly wider than it is long and is bordered by Thailand to the west and northwest, Laos in the north, Vietnam in the east and the Gulf of Thailand in the south. It shares most territory with Vietnam with a common border stretching 1228 kms.
It is a fairly low lying land with rolling plains and three quarters of the country – the Tonle Sap Basin and the Mekong Lowlands – is less than 100 m above sea level. Its highest point is Phnom Aural, at 1,771m, in southwestern Cambodia, in the richly biodiverse Cardamon Mountains, home to Southeast Asia’s second largest virgin forests.
The Great Lake Tonle Sap
The two most prominent features of Cambodia are Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and the Mekong River which rises from Tibet and flows into Cambodia from Laos. The mighty Mekong, some 5kms in width in stretches, travels 500 km from north to south and splits into three at Phnom Penh becoming the Tonle Sap River, the Mekong and the Bassac. The lives of the Cambodians are very much influenced by these two topographical features and the rich sediment deposited during the monsoons makes central Cambodia incredibly fertile.
Remote Mountains and Beaches
In the northeastern corner of the country in areas bordering Vietnam are the Western Highlands which are remote and rugged. The Ratanakiri province here is home to many hill tribes and is getting popular as a hot tourist destination. In the Northern border with Thailand are the Dangrek Mountains. All these mountainous forests are a rich source for timber and deforestation is starting to be a problem.
On Cambodia’s 435km coastline are islands and untouched beaches and the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor, which encompasses many spectacular natural sites such as mangrove forests, waterfalls, a wildlife sanctuary and coastal habitats.