Cambodia or Kampuchea, republic in South East Asia, bordered on the north-east by Laos, on the east and south-east by Vietnam, on the south-west by the Gulf of Thailand, and on the west and north-west by Thailand. Cambodia covers a total area of 181,035 sq km (69,898 sq mi). The capital and largest city of Cambodia is Phnom Penh. Name : Kingdom of Cambodia. Capital : Phnom Penh.
Cambodia’s terrain is dominated by a large, low-lying alluvial plain that occupies most of the central part of the country. To the east of the plain lies an undulating plateau region. Mountain ranges fringe the plain on the south-west, where the Kravanh range of mountains (Cardamom Mountains) form a physical barrier along the country’s coast, and on the north by the Dangrek Range.
The main features of the plain are the Mekong River, which flows from north to south through Cambodia, and Lake Sap, which covers an area of about 2,600 sq km (1,000 sq mi) in the dry season to about 10,400 sq km (4,000 sq mi) in the rainy season. The outlet of Lake Sap is the Sab River, which during the dry season flows south into the Mekong River. During the rainy season the floodwaters of the Mekong River flow back into Lake Sap, inundating the central part of the country.
Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate. The average annual temperature is about 26.7° C (80° F). A rainy season extends from mid-April to mid-October. Average annual rainfall is about 1,400 mm (55 in) on the central plains and more than 3,800 mm (150 in) in mountainous areas and along the coast.
Known mineral resources are limited; phosphate and gemstones are most important. Cambodia has an enormous hydroelectric power potential, but its development has been hindered by the warfare and civil strife of the 1970s and 1980s. Deforestation is the most serious threat to Cambodia's environment. In the 1960s and 1970s Cambodian forests and wetlands were harmed by bombings and defoliants used during the Vietnam War.
In the 1970s and 1980s the damage continued with the disastrous agricultural policies of the Khmer Rouge regime and civil war. In the relatively peaceful 1990s, timber became an important export for Cambodia. More than 800,000 hectares (2 million acres) of Cambodian forest were cut down from 1990 to 1995—an alarming rate of 1.6 per cent (1990-1996) per year. In 1995 the government responded by banning log exports, but illegal timber exporting has led to continued deforestation. In 1995, 55.7 per cent of Cambodia's total land area was forested. The government has declared a large portion—16.2 per cent (1997)—of the country's total land area protected. © Written by E. BUCHOT and Encarta
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