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Tonle Sap

  • water reflection on Tonle Sap, Cambodia
water reflection on Tonle Sap
© photo: Jennifer     original photo
also known as:
Tonle Sap Lake
Priority: Midd
Location Type: Destination
Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It is a combined lake and river system that changes flow directions during monsoon season (June - September) and hence increase the lake area to 16,000 km².
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Wikipedia - Tonlé Sap

Map of Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia
Map of Tonle Sap Lake and its floodplain

The Tonlé Sap (Khmer: ទន្លេសាប; "Tonlé" meaning "Large Fresh Water River," but more commonly translated as "Great Lake") is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia.
The Tonlé Sap 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: its flow changes direction twice a year, and 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. ... read more

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