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Cambodia:
Geography

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Background
Definition
Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire, ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863 and it became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In April 1975, after a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off almost 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders are awaiting trial by a UN-sponsored tribunal for crimes against humanity. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed. In October 2004, King SIHANOUK abdicated the throne due to illness and his son, Prince Norodom SIHAMONI, was selected to succeed him. Local elections were held in Cambodia in April 2007, and there was little in the way of pre-election violence that preceded prior elections. National elections are scheduled for July 2008.
Location
Definition
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos
Geographic coordinates
Definition
13 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references
Definition
Southeast Asia
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 181,040 sq km
land: 176,520 sq km
water: 4,520 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than Oklahoma
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 2,572 km
border countries: Laos 541 km, Thailand 803 km, Vietnam 1,228 km
Coastline
Definition
443 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate
Definition
tropical; rainy, monsoon season (May to November); dry season (December to April); little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain
Definition
mostly low, flat plains; mountains in southwest and north
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Phnum Aoral 1,810 m
Natural resources
Definition
oil and gas, timber, gemstones, iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 20.44%
permanent crops: 0.59%
other: 78.97% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
2,700 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
476.1 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 4.08 cu km/yr (1%/0%/98%)
per capita: 290 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
monsoonal rains (June to November); flooding; occasional droughts
Environment - current issues
Definition
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
Definition
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
Definition
a land of paddies and forests dominated by the Mekong River and Tonle Sap


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