Koh Rong

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Koh Rong
Native name: កោះរុង
bungalow colony Sok San Beach
bungalow colony at Sok San Beach
Koh Rong is located in Cambodia
Koh Rong
Koh Rong (Cambodia)
Geography
Location Cambodia - South East Asia
Coordinates 10°42′N 103°14′E / 10.700°N 103.233°E / 10.700; 103.233
Area 78 km2 (30 sq mi)
Length 15 km (9.3 mi)
Width 3–9 km (1.9–5.6 mi)
Coastline 61 km (37.9 mi)
Highest point 316 meters
Country
Cambodia
Province Sihanoukville
District Mittakpheap
Commune Sangkat 5
Demographics
Population 1,100 estimated
Ethnic groups Khmer

Koh Rong (Khmer: កោះរុង, also romanized as Kaôh Rōng or Kos Rong), is the second largest island of Cambodia. The word Rong might refer to an old term for cave or tunnel (រូង - roong in Khmer),[1] although some islanders say Rong refers to a historical person's name.

Located in Commune (Sangkat) No. 5, or Sangkat Koh Rong of Mittakpheap district in Sihanoukville Province about 25 kilometers off the coast in the Gulf of Thailand, the island has an area of approximately 78 km2 and 43 km of its entire coastline of 61 km are beaches.[2] Four village communities exist on the island: Koh Tuich, Doeum D'keuw, Prek Svay and Sok San.[3] In recent years the island has become home to an increasing but still moderate number of foreign-run guesthouses and bungalow resorts. As the island's South-Eastern tip around Koh Tuich Village is the point of arrival it has developed into the island's largest settlement center. in absence of even the most basic infrastructure, transport by boat is required to all settlements and holiday resorts, which are scattered all over the many beaches.[4]

Koh Rong island is a relatively new commune, only established in 2000.[5] In order to boost development, Koh Rong has had a land concession issued by the Cambodian government. A Cambodian consortium, the Royal Group has been granted a 99-year lease. In 2008 it has revealed plans to build "Asia’s first environmentally planned resort island."[6]

The French "Survivor" television program Koh Lanta was filmed on Koh Rong, near Sok San village in 2012.[7]

Geography[edit]

Koh Rong is the biggest of the islands off the coast of Sihanoukville in the Gulf of Thailand. It stretches from south-east to north-west, is roughly elongate shaped and it encompasses an area of 78 square km. The terrain is predominantly hilly with a sizable mountain (316 meters) at the island’s north-west. The hills provide water for countless creeks and estuaries. The island’s interior is almost completely forested, concealing a number of seasonal waterfalls. Koh Rong has around 43 kilometers of delicate beaches. There are no less than 23 beaches of varying length and coloration – from (predominantly) white to beige to rose-colored sands - along most of the coastline. Bays, protruding capes and impressive sandstone rock formations contribute to the island’s scenic panorama. The southern coastline - exposed to the weather and open sea, is particularly spectacular, whereas the eastern coast, which faces towards the land, is characterized by a sequence of smooth hills, gently sloping towards the numerous crescent-shaped beaches, inlets and bays. Several small islets and many reefs provide an abundance of natural environments for a great variety of marine life. The center of the island is a flat “belt” of sediments that joins the two hilly massifs of the south-east and north-west. Here is a small savanna - the result of human activities and cultivation.

Although most of the island's surface is still covered in forest, many years of illegal logging have seriously affected the quality and health of the jungle. Huge, old and slow-growing hardwood trees have become rare, the original arboreal variety is vanishing and gradually being replaced by commercial mono cultures, such as coco - and oil palms, in particular along the coast and in the lowlands.

Tiny Koh Tuich island lies off the South-East and the twin islands of Koh Bong-Po'own or Koh Song-Saa lie off the North-East of Koh Rong. To its South lies the uninhabited island of Koh Koun, followed by Koh Rong Sanloem island. These five islands comprise the Sangkat Koh Rong or Commune 5 of Mittakpheap District.[8]

History[edit]

No recorded and administered settlements existed on Koh Rong island prior to the year 2000. From 1960 to 1975, the island was managed and governed by two institutions, the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and the Navy authority. No one lived on Koh Rong island during the Pol Pot regime (1975 – 1979) and there were no organized fishing activities. The site was governed by the Navy authority for five miles around the island during 1979 to 2000.

Since 2000 the Department of Fisheries is the principal government agency responsible for management of living aquatic resources. It cooperates with local authorities, communities, local fishers, and NGOs, to manage and conserve the resources. [9][10]

Settlements and Infrastructure[edit]

waterfall near Sok San village

There are 4 distinguishable villages on Koh Rong – Koh Tuich Village in the south-east, Prek Svay and Doeum D'keuw in the east and north-east and Sok San Village in the north-west. Most local residents live from fishing (70%) and small scale crop cultivation (30%), although an increasing number has found jobs in the quickly growing tourism sector. This is particularly true for Koh Tuich Village, where tourist businesses outnumber residential homes.[11]

Apart from narrow paths in the jungle - many of these are dead ends that had been created by illegal loggers - there exists absolutely no road network. The islands interior remains non-populated, villages and holiday resorts are confined to the coast and the beaches. Conveniently all transport goes via sea routes. Local residents and visitors can take advantage of a well functioning ferry network by 2014.[12]

Extensive road clearings do foreshadow the island's future as a major tourist destination, yet as the developer's Chinese investment partner has dropped out of the team, funding remains uncertain.[13] The Ministry of Tourism has expressed indirect discontent and is likely to cancel development licenses, if "these important islands are left undeveloped."[14]

In September 2012 the island was hooked up with the internet to Sihanoukville on the main land. The Royal Group dropped a fiber-glass cable in the gulf's waters - a distance of almost 30 kilometers. Still, none of the infrastructural projects are yet under way and according to the Phnom Penh Post newspaper: "plans are foggy".[15]


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Coordinates: 10°42′N 103°14′E / 10.700°N 103.233°E / 10.700; 103.233