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Picture taken in one of the floating villages around the Tonlé Sap lake.

The Tonlé Sap ("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 Southeast 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.

The area is home to many ethnic Vietnamese and numerous Cham communities, living in floating villages around the lake. Approximately 1.2 million people living in the greater Tonle Sap make their living by fishing on the local waters. Cambodia produces about 400,000 tonnes of freshwater fish per year, the majority of which comes from Tonle Sap. These fisheries account for 16 percent of national GDP, making the fish industry not only essential to the diet of local populations but to the Cambodian economy as a whole.

source: wikipedia.org

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Additional Photos by Leszek Stefaniuk (jabumbum) Silver Note Writer [C: 4 W: 0 N: 428] (1308)
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