Cambodia has an area of 181,035 square kilometers (69,898 sq mi) and lies entirely within the tropics. 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 centre of the country, at 1,813 metres (5,948 ft).
Phnom Penh, official Romanization: Phnum Pénh; pronounced [p?num p??]) is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. It is also the capital of the Phnom Penh municipality. It is an economic, industrial, commercial, cultural, tourist and historical center. Once known as the “Pearl of Asia” in the 1920s, Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap, is a significant global and domestic tourist destination for Cambodia. Phnom Penh is known for its traditional Khmer and French influenced architecture. Phnom Penh is the wealthiest and most populous city in Cambodia. It is also the commercial, political and cultural hub of Cambodia and is home to more than one million of Cambodia’s population of over 13 million. The oldest structure is the Wat Phnom from the founding days of the city, constructed in 1373. The main tourist attractions are the Royal Palace with the Silver Pagoda, which dates to the mid 1800s; the National Museum, constructed during the French colonial era in the late 1800s in the classical Khmer style hosts a vast collection of Khmer antiquities; the Independence Monument (Khmer: Vimean Akareach), although modern from the 1950s, is also constructed in the ancient Khmer style; Tuol Sleng (TS21) and the Killing Fields.
Siem Reap City is the capital of Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. Siem Reap has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter, and around the Old Market. In town, there are Apsara dance performances, craft shops, silk farms, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake. Siem Reap today, being a popular tourist destination, has a large number of hotels and restaurants. Most smaller establishments are concentrated around the Old Market area, while more expensive hotels are located between Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport and the town along National Road 6. There are a variety of mid-range hotels and restaurants along Sivatha, and budget to mid-range hotels in the Phsar Leu area.
Sihanoukville (Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kampong Som, is a port city in southern Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand and is a growing Cambodian urban center. The city is named after King Father Norodom Sihanouk and grew up around the construction of Sihanoukville Port. Construction on the port began in June 1955 and it was the only deep water port in Cambodia. The port was built in part due to the waning power of the French leading to the Vietnamese tightening their control over the Mekong Delta and hence restricting river access to Cambodia. Sihanoukville’s beaches have made it a popular tourist destination. The city is served by Kang Keng Airport, 18 kilometers from downtown (11 miles). Although it has a limited commercial operation. The planned flights between Sihanoukville and Siem Reap may encourage visitors to Angkor temples in Siem Reap to extend their stay, though the crash of a charter flight in Phnom Damrey on 25th June, 2007 from Siem Riep, has caused concerns. Sihanoukville attracts tourists with its laid back beach atmosphere when compared to Thailand’s more developed ones, but the region’s illegal narcotics shipping discourages some visitors. In January 2009 two Canadians – a humanitarian worker volunteer and a tourist, were assaulted by bandits in the city. Jiri Zivny, the humanitarian worker, died after days of comma in Phnom Penh. An official statement, however, concluded that Zivny died by a motorbike crush. This report was later verified by number of Sihanoukville residents and the story reported in Kamloops This Week, the Local Newspaper of Jiri’s Hometown. The events caused concerns of insecurity for foreigners, although authorities promised to improve it in the port. The port has been pointed also by humanitarian organizations for its recurrence in cases of child abuse and women. However, the city has attracted not only tourists, but several NGOs and foreign and national investors in the last years in order to develop not only the growing tourist industry, but its capacity as an international sea port and other sectors like textile and real estate. In Sihanoukville is also located the main factory of Angkor, the Cambodian national beer.
Battambang (the Siamese name was Phratabong) founded during the height of the Khmer empire in the 11th century (long before the Thai were a political power), is Cambodia’s second-largest city and the capital of Battambang Province. It is the urbanized part of the Battambang District. After the invasion of Thai forces, it was the main commercial hub of Siam’s Eastern Provinces, though it was always populated by ethnic Cambodians. The Thai finally returned the provinces in 1909 because of pressure from the French, who administered Cambodia as a ‘Protectorate’, though the Thai attempted to regain the territory as part of a deal they made with the Japanese during World War II. After the defeat of their Japanese ally, Thailand returned the area to the French, from whom it was formally given to Cambodia in 1953. It is the former capital of Monton Kmer. The city lies in the heart of the Northwest and until the war years was the leading rice-producing province of the country. Battambang is the main hub of the Northwest connecting the entire region with Phnom Penh and Thailand, and as such it’s a vital link for Cambodia. The main parts of the city are situated closed to the Sangker River, a tranquil, small body of water that winds its way through Battambang Province. It is a nice, picturesque setting. As with much of Cambodia, the French architecture is an attractive bonus of the city. The French has left most of its influence on the Cambodian land.
Tonlé Sap lake
The Tonlé Sap, i.e., large body of water (Cambodian meaning “Large Fresh Water River,” but more commonly translated as “Great Lake”) is a combined lake and river system of huge importance to Cambodia. It is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997. The Tonlé Sap is unusual for two reasons: 1) its flow changes direction twice a year, and 2) the portion that forms the lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. From November to May, Cambodia’s dry season, the Tonlé Sap drains into the Mekong River at Phnom Penh. However, when the year’s heavy rains begin in June, the Tonlé Sap backs up to form an enormous lake. For most of the year the lake is fairly small, around one meter deep and with an area of 2,700 square km. During the monsoon season, however, the Tonlé Sap river which connects the lake with the Mekong river reverses its flow. Water is pushed up from the Mekong into the lake, increasing its area to 16,000 square km and its depth to up to nine meters, flooding nearby fields and forests. The floodplain provides a perfect breeding ground for fish.
Mondulkiri is an eastern province of Cambodia. It is the most sparsely populated province in the country despite being the largest in land area. The capital is Senmonorom town. Mondulkiri is known for its forested hills and powerful waterfalls. Mondulkiri is a candidate for eco-tourism in Cambodia. Many majestic waterfalls are found in Mondulkiri; Bou Sra Waterfall Located at Pich Chinda District, 43 kilometers from Senmonorom town, Bou Sra is the largest waterfall, made famous by a popular Khmer song in Mondulkiri and has two stages. Senmonorom Waterfall, 5 km from town and an easy walk, is not much to look at and used to be a nice picnic spot until the Japanese built a hydro electric power station there and stole all the water. Romnea Waterfall, 10 kilometers from Senmonorom, is actually 1 of 3 large waterfalls that has now been deforested and privatised by a Guesthouse. 75 percent of the Mondulkiri’s population is made up of ten tribal minorities, with the majority of them being Phnong. The remaining 20 percent are Khmer, Chinese and Muslim Cham. The population lives off the land, planting rice, fruit trees and a variety of vegetables. Others grow strawberries, coffee, rubber and cashew nuts.
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