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Mountains and Plains
Most of Cambodia consists of a basin-shaped lowland area,enclosed by mountain chain to the north,east, and west. The Cardamon range in the southwest contains Cambodia's highest peak , Phnom Aoral, which stands at 5,948 feet (1,813 meters). The Elephants mountains are found in the region between the Tonle Sap and the Gulf of Thailand. The Dangrek range marks a natural border with Thailand. Dense tropical forests cover most of the mountains. Their rapid deforestation is of international concern.The central plains are the most densely populated areas of Cambodia. The plains are a mixture of cultivated land, paddy fields, and grasslands dotted with sugar palm trees.
The Mekong River and its major tributary in Cambodia, the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), bring life to the heart of Cambodia.The Mekong,which is approximately 2,7oomiles(4,35okm) in length, is one of the mightiest rivers in the world. It begins in the Tibet Plateau in China and flows through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, ans Vietnam. It forms the Mekong Delta in Vietnam before glowing into the South China Sea.
In the heart of central plains lies the Tonle Sap, the largest inland lake in Southeast Asia. The Tonle Sap acts as a natural flood reservoir for the Mekong. During the rainy season from mid-May to early October, the Mekong overflows its banks.When this happens, the Mekong River reverse its direction of flow and fills the Tonle Sap via the Tonle Sap River. The Tonle Sap expands to double its size and flood the surrounding countryside. During the dry season, water in the Tonle Sap flows back into the Mekong,leaving behind fertile soil. This annual flooding of the Mekong leave rich alluvial deposits in the central plains.
Floods and Droughts Cambodia sometimes suffers devastating floods or droughts when the monsoons are not regular. Rainfall is not evenly distributed across the country,and the mountainous areas,particularly the Cardamom Mountains,receive the most rain. Irrigation helps distribute and control water resources to various agricultural crops, and great potential still exists for increasing the range and amount of crops grown.
Plants and Animals Cambodia's extensive forests contain abundant plant and animal species. Animals in Cambodian forests include tigers, clouded leopards, elephants, monkeys, civets, bears, and many varieties of reptiles and birds. The Tonla Sap and the Mekong River support a huge variety of freshwater fish, amphibians,and waterfowl. Many animal species are bring threatened by increasing. population pressure, deforestation, hunting,and land mines.
Cambodia's forests contain commercially usable timber, as well as trees that are prized for their aromatic oils and resins. Since 1970, increased deforestation has led to a considerable reduction in forest cover.