Ecology – The Tonle Sap

The Tonal Sap lake

Overhead view of the Tonal Sap. Angkor Wat is located near the northern tip of the lake.

Angkor Wat is located near (~20 miles from the temple to the lake shore, but the city covered a wider area) the Tonle Sap, also known as the Great Lake, the largest lake in South-East Asia. Tonle Sap is located in a geological depression created by the collision of two tectonic plates, the Indian and the Eurasian. Due to the lake’s large size and annual, predictable flooding, the region is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, and central for Cambodian agriculture past and present.

The Angkorian  civilization took advantage of the Tonle Sap and its yearly floods by digging reservoirs during the wet season, and releasing the water during the dry season. This greatly increased the amount of rice grown per year, allowing Angkor to sustain its large population.

Currently, there are 149 species of fish, as well as several species of bird, crocodiles, and snakes living in or near the Tonle Sap. The area is also home to 0ver 200 species of plant.

The area of Cambodia where Angkor Wat is located is dominated by Tropical Savannah climate, represented by distinct wet and dry seasons, with slightly less rainfall than a typical Monsoon climate. The region around Angkor Wat is defined by hot, humid temperatures, averaging in the low nineties. Much of the landscape consists of tropical forests and farmland.