Land and Resources, Rivers and Lakes
northwestern provinces, longest river, monsoon season, Phnom Penh, Great Lake
Cambodia’s most important river is the Mekong, the longest river in Southeast Asia and the tenth largest in the world. The Mekong flows from north to south through Cambodia and is navigable for much of its course. Other rivers in the country include the Tonle Srepok and the Tonle Sab.
Cambodia’s principal lake, the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), is the largest in Southeast Asia. From the northwest, the Tonle Sap drains into the Mekong via the Tonle Sab River, entering the Mekong at Phnom Penh. Each year during the monsoon season (approximately May to October), the waters of the Mekong increase and reverse the flow of the Tonle Sab, which begins to drain into the lake. The lake then expands dramatically, flooding the provinces along its banks. When dry weather returns, the river reverses its course again and flows back into the Mekong, draining the northwestern provinces. At the height of the flooding, the Tonle Sap reaches more than 10,000 sq km (4,000 sq mi), or about four times its size in the dry season. The lake is one of the richest sources of freshwater fish in the world.
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