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Geography, climate and population
Cambodia is situated in southeast Asia on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand and has a total area of 181 040 km2 (Table 1). It is bordered by Thailand in the west, Lao People’s Democratic Republic in the north and Viet Nam in the east. Together, with these countries and China and Myanmar, Cambodia shares the Mekong river basin. Water surfaces, including Lake Tonle Sap, occupy approximately 2.2 percent of the total area of the country. For administrative purposes the country is divided into 23 provinces (khett), which are Banteay Mean Chey, Battambang, Kandal, Kampot, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Koh Kong, Kep, Kratie, Mondulkiri, Otdar Mean Chey, Pailin, Preah Sihanouk (Sihanoukville), Preah Vihear, Prey Veng, Pursat, Rotanakiri, Siem Reap, Stueng Treng, Svay Rieng and Takeo, and one municipality (krong), which is Phnom Penh.
Physiographically, the country is composed of an undulating plateau in the east, a continuous flat plain (the Lake Tonle Sap lowland) interrupted only by isolated hills (Phnoms) and the Mekong river in the central part, and the Cardamone mountains in the southwest.
The cultivable area is approximately 4.63 million ha, or 25 percent of the total area. In 2009, the total cultivated area was about 4.055 million ha of which 3.900 million ha or 96.2 percent for annual crops and 0.155 million ha or 3.8 percent of permanent crops.
Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate and is influenced by various factors, including its location within the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone and the monsoon. There are two distinct seasons: (i) the dry season from November to April associated with the northeast monsoon, which sends drier and cooler air, with February being the driest month; (ii) the wet season from May to October, in which rainfall is largely derived from the southwest monsoon drawn inland from the Indian Ocean; the rainfall pattern is bi-modal in this season with peaks in June and September/October.
In Phnom Penh, monthly rainfall ranges from 5 mm in January to 255 mm in October. Average annual rainfall is an estimated 1 400 mm, but varies from about 1 000 mm in Svay Chek in the western province of Banteay Mean Chey to nearly 4 700 mm in Bokor in the southern province of Kampot. Precipitation varies widely from year-to-year. Mean annual evaporation varies from 1 000 to 2 300 mm. April is the warmest month of the year with a maximum temperature of 36 °C, while January is the coldest with 21 °C.
From the latter part of July, there may be periods without significant rainfall for ten or more days at a time. This is referred to as the ‘short dry season’. Farmers tend to delay planting during this time to minimize the risk of damage to rice or crop seedlings, which are not irrigated.
In 2009, the total population was 13 978 000, around 80 percent lived in rural areas (Table 1). Population density is 77 inhabitants/km2. Annual population growth rate during the period 1999-2009 is an estimated 1.4 percent.
In 2008, access to improved drinking water sources covered 61 percent (81 and 56 percent for the urban and rural population respectively). Access to improved sanitation reached 29 percent (67 and 18 percent for the urban and rural population respectively).