stretches of deep unbroken water. Some of the streams which feed this river are navigable by steam launches in their lower reaches and by lighter craft for considerable distances higher up. Between the Irrawaddy and the Salween lie the Sittang and Bilin rivers, which, owing to the dangerous bore which sweeps into their mouths, are used only for local boat traffic. All four rivers are linked together by means of canals, but there is complete through connection only in the wet season.
A frequent service of river steamers and launches for the conveyance of passengers and merchandise is maintained on these waterways, principally by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, the nucleus of whose fleet 35A vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of 92,500 tons, was formed in 1865. The next decade witnessed the introduction of railways, a line from Rangoon to Prome, 161
miles in length, being opened for traffic under the name of the Irrawaddy Valley State Railway in 1877. From that date down to the present day extensions have been made from time to time in various directions, until now the system embraces some 1,500 miles of metre-gauge single track stretching from Rangoon, Bassein, and Moulmein, in the south, to Myitkyina, on the Irrawaddy, in the north ; and from Kyangin, Prome, Myingyan, and Alon, on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin, in the west, to Lashio,
95 miles from the border of Yunnan, in the east. It will thus be seen that the railways traverse rich and populous agricultural districts and link them up with the riverain towns. Previous to the construction of the line along the Sittang Valley from Rangoon to Toungoo the production of rice in excess of local requirements was of little or no value, but the provision of facilities for rapid transport
furnished an incentive to industry, and large areas of waste and forest land were quickly brought under cultivation. Similarly, the Mu Valley Line, further north, opened up in the nineties a fertile stretch of country which had previously been completely landlocked, access to the Irrawaddy being rendered almost impossible by the intervening range of mountains over which, it is said, the grain exported from Wuntho used to be carried in baskets on womenas heads to the riverside near Tigyaing. Between Mogaung and
Myitkyina, the northern terminus, which is 724 miles from Rangoon, the greater part of the country was devoid of human habitations and infested by wild beasts. The line from Letpadan to Bassein via Henzada in 1902-3 tapped a rich rice-producing district which before the construction of embankments thirty years earlier was a dreary waste inundated periodically by the spill-water of
GOKTEIK BRIDGE.GOKTEIK BRIDGE.