1902 Encyclopedia > India > General Description of the Country

(Part 2)


General Description of the Country

General Outline.—India, as thus defined, is the middle of the three irregularly shaped peninsulas which just out southwards from the mainland of Asia, thus corresponding roughly to the peninsula of Italy in the map of Europe. Its form is that of a great triangle, which its base resting upon the Himálayan range, and its apex running far into the ocean. The chief part of its western side is washed by the Arabian Sea, and the chief part of its eastern side by the Bay of Bengal. It extends from the 8th to the 35th degree of north latitude, that is to say, from the hottest regions of the equator to far within the temperate zone. The capital, Calcutta, lies in 88º E. long; so that when the sun sets at six o’clock there, it is just past mid-day in England, and early morning in New York. The length of India from north to south, and its greatest breadth from east to west, both about 1900 miles ; but the triangle tapers with a pear-shaped curved to a point at Cape Comorin, its southern extremity. To this compact dominions the English have added, under the name of British Burmah, the strip of country on the eastern shores of the Bay of Bengal. But on the other hand, the adjacent island of Ceylon has been artificially severed, and placed under the colonial office. Two groups of islands in the Bay of Bengal, the Andamans the Nicobars ; one group in the Arabian sea, the Laccadives ; and the outlying station of Aden at the mouth of the Red Sea, are all politically included within the Indian empire; while dots on the shore of the peninsula itself, representing Portuguese and French settlements, break at intervals the continuous line of British territory.

India is shut off from the rest of Asia on the north by vast mountainous region, known in the aggregate as the Himálayas, amid which lie the independent states of Bhután and Nepál, with the great table-land of Tibet behind. The native principality of Kashmír occupies the north-western angle of India, with Eastern Turkestán stretching to the north beyond it. At this north-western angle (in 35º N. lat., 74º, E. long.) the mountains curve southwards, and India is separated by the well-marked ranges of the Sufed Koh and Suláimán from Afghánistán ; ad by a southern continuation of lower hills (the Hálas, &c.) from Baluchistán. The last part of the western land frontier of India is formed by the river Hab, and the boundary ends at Cape Monze, at the mouth of its estuary, in 24º 50’ N. lat., 66º 38’ E. long Still father southwards, India is bounded along the W. and S.W. by Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. Turning northwards from the southern extremity at Cape Comorin (8º 4’ 20_ N. lat., 77º 35' 35" E. long.), the long sea-line of the Bay of Bengal forms the main part of its eastern boundary. But on the north-east, as on the northwest boundary. But on the north-east, as on the northwest, India has again a land frontier. The Himálayan ranges at the north-eastern angle (in about 28º N. lat., 97º E. long.) throw off spurs and chains to the south-east, these spurs, which have been but imperfectly explored, and may possibly constitute an independent mountain system, separate the British provinces of Assam and Eastern Bengal from Independent Burmah. They are known successively as the Abar, Nágá, Patkoi, and Barel ranges. Turning almost due south in 25º lat., they culminate in the Blue Mountain (7100 feet), in 22º 37´ N. lat., 93º 10´ E. long., and then stretch southwards under the name of the Arakan Yomas, separating British Burmah from Independence Burmah, until they again rise into the mountain of Myeng-mateng (4700 feet), in 19_º of N. lat. Up to this point, the eastern frontier follows, generally speaking, the watershed which divides the river systems of the Brahmaputra, Meghna, Kuladan (Koladyne), &c., in Bengal and British Burmah, from the Irawadi basin in Independent Burmah. But from near the base of the Myeng-mateng Mountain, in about 19 _ º lat., the British frontier stretches almost due east, in an artificial line which divides the lower districts and delta of the Irawadi in British Burmah from the middle and upper districts of that river in Independent Burmah. Stretching south-eastwards from the delta of the Irawadi, a confused succession of little explored ranges separates the British province of Tenasserim from the native kingdom of Siam. The boundary line runs down to Point Victoria at the extremity of Tenasserim (9º 59´ N. lat., 98º 32´ E. long.), following in a somewhat rough manner the watershed between the rivers of the British territory on the west and of Siam on the east.

The empire included within these boundaries is rich in varieties of scenery and climate, from the highest mountains in the word to vast river deltas raised only a few inches above the level of the sea. It forms a continent rather than a country. But if we could look down on the whole from a balloon, we should find that India consists of three separate and well-defined tracts. The first includes the lofty Himálaya mountains, which shut it out from the rest of Asia ; and which, although for the most part beyond the British frontier, form an overruling factor in the physical geography of northern India. The second region stretches southwards from the base of the Himálayas, and comprises the plains of the great rivers which issue from them. The third region slopes upward again from the edge of the river plains, and consists of a high three-sided table-land, supported by the Vindhyá mountains on the north, and by the Eastern and Western Gháts, which runs down the coast on either side till they meet at a point near Cape Comorin. The interior three-sided table-land thus enclosed is broken by peaks and ranges, interspersed with broad expanses of level uplands, and covers the whole southern half of the peninsula.

The first of the three regions is the Himálaya mountains and their offshoots to the southward. The Himálayas—literally, the "Dwelling-place of Snow," from the Sanskrit hima, frost (Latin, hiems, winter), and álaya, a house—comprise a system of stupendous ranges, the loftiest in the world. They are the Emodus of Ptolemy (among other names), and extend in the shape of a scimitar, with its edge facing southwards, for a distance of 1500 miles along the northern frontier of India. At the north-eastern angle of that frontier, the Dihang river, the link between the Tsan-pu (Sangpu) of Tibet and the Brahmaputra of Assam, bursts through the main axis of the range. At the opposite or north-western angle, the Indus in like manner pierces the Himálayas, and turns southwards, on its course through the Punjab. The Himálayan region has been fully described in a separate article, vol. xi. p. 821

This wild region is in man parts impenetrable to man, and nowhere yields a passage for a modern army. It should be mentioned, however, that the Chinese outposts extend as far as a pointy only 6000 feet above the Gangetic plain, north of Khatmandu. Indeed, Chinese armies have seriously threathened Khatmandu itself ; and Sir David Ochterlony’s advance fromteh plains of Bengal to that city in 1816 is a matter of history. Ancient and well-known trade routes exist, by means of which merchandise from the Punjab finds its way over heights of 18,000 feet into Eastern Turkestán and Tibet. The Muztagh (Snowy Mountain), the Karakoram (Black Mountain), and the Changchenmo are the most famous of these passes.

The Himálayas not only form a double wall along the north of India, but at both their eastern and western extremities send out ranges to the south, which protect its north-eastern and north-western frontiers. On the north-east those offshoots, under the name of the Nágá and Patkoi mountains, &c., form a barrier between the civilized British districts and the wild tribes of Upper Burmah. The southern continuations of these ranges, known as the Yomas, separate British from Independent Burmah, and are crossed by passes, the most historic of which, the Aeng or An, rises to 4668 (formerly given at 4517) feet, with gradients of 472 feet to the mile.

On the opposite or north-western frontier of India, the mountainous offshots run down the entire length of the British boundaries from the Himálayas to the sea. As they proceed southwards, their best marked ranges are in turn known as the Sufed Koh, the Suláimán, and the Hála mountains. These massive barriers have peaks of great height, culminating in the Takht-I Suláimán or Throne of Solomon, 11,317 feet above the level of the sea. But the mountain wall is pierced at the corner where it strikes southwards from the Himálayas by an opening through which the Kábul (Cabul) river flows into India. An adjacent opening, the Khyber Pass (rising to 3373 feet), the Kuram Pass to the south of it, the Gwalarí Pass near Derá Ismáil Khán, the Tál Pass debouching near Derá Gházi Khán, and the famous Bolán Pass (5800 feet at Top) still farther south, furnish the gateways between India and Afghánitán. The Hála, Brahui, and Pab mountains form the southern hilly offshoots between India and Baluchistán, and have a much less elevation.

The wide plains watered by the Himálayan rivers form the second of the three regions into which we have divided India. They extend from the Bay of Bengal on the east to the Afghán frontier and the Arabian Sea on the west, and contain the richest and most densely crowded provinces of the empire. One set of invaders after another has from prehistoric times entered by the passes at their eastern and north-western frontier. They followed the courses of the rivers and pushed the earlier comers southwards before them towards the sea. About 150 millions of people now live on and around these river plains, in the provinces known as the lieutenant–governorship of Bengal, Assam the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, the Punjab, Sind, Rájputána, and other native states.

The vast level tract which thus covers northern India is watered by three distinct river systems. One of these systems takes its rise in the hollow trough beyond the Himálayas, and issues through their western ranges upon the Punjab as the Sutlej and Indus. The second of the three river systems also takes its rise beyond the double wall of the Himálayas, not very far from the sources of the Indus and the Sutlej. It turns, however, almost due east instead of west, enters India at the eastern extremity of the Himálayas, and becomes the Brahmaputra of Assam and Eastern Bengal. These rivers collect the drainage of the northern slopes of the Himálayas, and convey it, by long northern slopes of the Himálayas, and convey it, by long and tortuous although opposite routes, into India. Indeed, the special feature of the Himálayas is that they send down the rainfall from their northern as well as from their southern slopes to the Indian plains. Of the three great rivers of northern India, the two longest, namely the Indus with its feeder the Sutlej and the Brahmaputra, take their rise in the trough on the north of the Himálayas. The third river system of northern India receives the drainage of their southern slopes, and eventually unites into the mighty stream of the Ganges. In this way the rainfall, alike from the northern and southern slopes of the Himálayas, pours down into the river plains of Bengal.

Throughout the river plains of northern India, two harvests, and in some provinces three, are reaped each year. these crops are not necessarily taken from the same land ; but in many districts the best fields have to yield two harvests within the twelve months. In lower Bengal, pease, pulses, oil-seeds, and green crops of various sorts are reaped in spring ; the early rice crops in September; the great rice harvest of the year, and other grains, in November and December. Before these last have been gathered in, it is time to prepare the ground for the spring crops, and the Bengal husbandman knows no rest except during the hot weeks of May, when he is anxiously waiting for the rains. But it should always be remembered that rice is the staple crop in only a limited area of India, and that it forms the everyday food of only a comparatively small proportion of the population. It has been estimated that, in the absence of irrigation, the rice crop requires an annual rainfall of at least 36 inches ; and an Indian province requires an average fall of not less than 50 or 60 inches in order to grow rice as its staple crop. A line might almost be drawn across Behar, to the north of which the food of the people ceases to be rice and becomes wheat and millets, &c. There are, indeed, great rice-growing tracts in irrigated or low-lying districts of north-western India, but their produce is consumed by the richer classes or exported.

A detailed account of the most important products will be found under the heading of "Agriculture," farther on in the present article. They are here alluded to only so far as is necessary to give a general idea of the scenery of the river plains. In the northern and drier regions along the upper courses of the rivers, the country rises gently from their channels in fertile undulations, dotted with mud villages and adorned with noble trees. Mango groves scent the air with their blossom in spring, and yield their abundant fruit in summer. The spreading banyan, with its colonnades of hanging roots ; the stately pipal, with its green masses of foliage ; the leafless wild cotton-tree, glowing with heavy crimson flowers; the tall, featherly tamarind, and the quick-growing bábul, rear their heads above the fields. As the rivers approach the coast, the palms begin to take possession of the scene. The ordinary landscape in the delta is a flat stretch of rice-fields, fringed round with evergreen masses of bamboos, cocoa-nuts, date-trees, area, and other coronetted palms. This densely peopled tract seems at first sight bare of villages, for each hamlet is hidden away amid its own grove of plantains and wealth-giving trees. The bamboo and cocoa-nut play a conspicuous part in the industrial life of the people ; and the number of products derived from them, including rope, oil, food, and timber, has been dwelt on with admiration by many writers.

The crops also changes as we sail down the rivers. In the north, the principal grains are wheat, barley, Indian corn, and a variety of millets, such as joár (Holcus Sorghum) and bájira (Holcus spicatus). In the delta, on the other hand, rice is the staple crop and the universal diet. In a single district, Rangpur, 295 separate kinds of rice are known to the peasant, who has learned to grow his favourite crop in every locality, from the solid field, which yields the áman harvest, to the swamps 12 feet deep, on the surface of whose waters the rice ears may be seen struggling upwards for air. Sugar-cane, oil-seeds, flax, mustard, sesamum, palma-christi, cotton, tobacco, indigo, safflower, turmeric, ginger, coriander, capsicum, cummin, and many precious spices and dyes are grown both in the North-Western or Upper Provinces, and in the moister valleys and delta of Lower Bengal. A whole pharmacopoeia of native medicines, from the well-known aloe and castor-oil to obscure but valuable febrifuges, is derived forms shrubs, herbs, and roots. Resins, gums, varnishes, scents, and a hundred articles of commerce of luxury are collected in the fields of forests. Vegetables of many sorts, both indigenous and imported from Europe, form a large part of the food of the people. The melon and huge yellow pumpkin spread themselves over the thatched roofs ; fields of potatoes, yams, and brinjal are attached to the homesteads. The tea-plant is reared on the hilly ranges that skirt the plains both in the north-west and in Assam ; the opium poppy about half down the Ganges, around Benares and Patná ; the silk-worm mulberry still farther down in Lower Bengal ; while the jute fibre is essentially a crop of Lower Bengal ; while the jute fibre is essentially a crop of the delta, and would exhaust any soil not fertilized by river floods. Even the jungles yields the costly lac dye and tasar silk cocoons. The mahuá, also a product of the jungle, produces the fleshy flowers which form a staple article of food among the hill tribes, and when distilled supply a cheap spirit. The sál, sissu, tún, and many other indigenous yield excellent timber. Flowering creepers, of gigantic size and gorgeous colours, festoon the jungle ; while each tank bears its own beautiful crop of the lotus and water-lilies. Nearly every vegetable product that feeds and clothes a people, or enables it to trade with foreign countries, abounds.

We come now to the third division of India, namely the three-sided table-land which covers the southern half or more strictly penisular portion of India. This tract, known in ancient times as the Deccan (Dakshin), literally "the right hand or south," comprises the Central Provinces, Berar, Madras, Bombay, Mysore, and the native territories of the nizám, Sindhia, Holkar, and other feudatory states. It had in 1872 an aggregate population of over 90 millions. For the sake of easy remembrance, therefore, we may take the inhabitants of the river plains in the north to be now nearly 150 millions, and those of the southern three-sided table-land at nearly 100 millions. The Decan, in its local acceptation, is restricted to the high tract between the Narbadá (Nerbudda) and the Kistná rivers ; but it is popularly understood to include the whole country south of the Vindhyás as far as Cape Comorin. It slopes up from the southern edge of the Gangetic plains. Three ranges of hills support its northern, its eastern, and its western side ; and the last two meet at a sharp angle near Cape Comorin.

The northern side rests on confused ranges, running with a general direction of east to west, and known in the aggregate as the Vindhyá mountains. The Vindhyás however, are made up of several distinct hill systems. Two sacred peaks guard the flanks in the extreme east and west, with a succession of ranges stretching 800 miles between. At the western extremity, Mount Abu, famous for its exquisite Jain temples, rises, as a solitary outpost of the Aravalli hills, 5650 feet above the Rájputána plain, like an island out of the sea. Beyond the southern limits of that plain, the Vindhyá range of modern geography runs almost due east from Guzerat, forming the northern wall of the Narbadá valley. The Sátpura mountains stretch also east and west to the south of that river, and form the watershed between it and the Tápti. Towards the heart of Indian the eastern extremities of these two converge in the highlands of the Central Provinces and their lofty level plains. Passing still farther east, the hill system finds a continuation in the Káimur range and its congeners, which eventually end in the outlying peaks and spurs that form the western boundary of Lower Bengal, and abut on the old course of the Ganges under the name of the Rájmahál hills. On the extreme east, Mount Párasnáth—like Mount Abu on the extreme west, sacred to Jain rites—rises to 4400 feet above the level of the Gangetic plains. The various ranges of the Vindhyás, from 1500 to over 4000 feet high, form, as it were, the northern wall and buttresses which support the central table-land. Though now pierced by road and railway, they stood in former times a barrier of mountain and jungle between northern and southern India, and formed, one of the main obstructions to welding the whole into an empire. They consist of vast masses of forests, ridges, and peaks, broken by cultivated valleys and broad high-lying plains.

The order two sides of the elevated southern triangle are known as the Eastern and Western Gháts (Ghauts). These start southwards from the eastern and western extremities of the Vindhyá system, and run along the eastern and western coasts of India. The Eastern Gháts stretch in fragmentary spurs and ranges down the Madras Presidency, here and there receding inland and leaving broad level tracts between their base and the coast. The Western Gháts form the great sea-wall of the Bombay Presdency, with only a narrow strip between them and the shore. In many parts they rise in magnificent precipices and headlands out of the ocean, and truly look like colossal "passes or landing-stairs" (gháts) from the sea. The Eastern Gháts have an average elevation of 1500 feet. The Western Gháts ascend more abruptly from the sea to an average height of about 3000 feet, with peaks up to 4700, along the Bombay coast, rising to 7000 and even 8760 in the upheaved angle which they unite to form with the Eastern Gháts, towards their southern extremity.

The inner triangular plateau thus enclosed lies from 1000 to 3000 feet above the level of the sea. But it is dotted with peaks and seemed with ranges exceeding 4000 feet in height. Its best known hills are the Nílgiris, (Neilgherries), with the summer capital of Madras, Utakamand, 7000 feet above the sea. The highest point is Dodábetta Peak (8760 feet), at the upheaved southern angle. The interior plateau is approached by several famous passes from the level coast-strip on the western side. The Bor-Ghát, for example, ascends a tremendous ravine about 40 miles south-east of Bombay city, to a height of 1798 feet. In ancient time this pass we regarded as the key of the Deccan, and could be held by a small band against any army attempting to penetrate from the coast. A celebrated military road was constructed by the British up the Bort-Ghát, and practically gave the command of the interior to the then rising port of Bombay. A railway line has now been carried up the pass, twisting round the shoulders of mountains, tunnelling through intervening crags, and clinging by a narrow ledge to the face of the precipices. At one point the zigzag is so sharp as to render a circuitous turn impossible, and the trains have to stop and reverse their direction on a levelled terrace. The Thall Ghát, to the north of Bombay, has in like manner been scaled both by road and railway. Another celebrated pass, farther down the coast, connects the military centre of Belgáum with the little port of Vingurla. These "landing-stairs" from the sea the interior present scenes of rugged grandeur. The trap rocks stand out, after ages of denudation, like circular fortresses flanked by round towers, from the mass of hills behind—natural fastnesses, which in the Marhattá times were rendered impregnable to Oriental warfare. To the south of Bombay, the passes climb up from the sea through thick forests, the haunt of the tiger and the stately bison. Still farther down the coast, the western mountain wall dips down into the Palghát valley, remarkable gap, 25 miles broad, and leading by an easy route, only 1500 feet above the sea at its highest point, from the sea-board to the interior. A railway now extends by this passage from Beypur across the peninsula to Madras.

On the eastern side of India, the Gháts form a series of spurs and buttresses for the elevated inner plateau, rather than a continous mountain wall. They are traversed by a number of broad and easy passages from the Madras coast. Through these openings the rainfall of the southern half of the inner plateau reaches the sea. The drainage from the northern or Vindhyán edge of the three-sided table-land falls into the Ganges. The Narbadá (Nerbudda) and Tápti carry the rainfall of the southern slopes of the Vindhyás and of the Sátpura hills, in almost parallel lines, into the Gulf of Cambay. But from Surat, in 21º 9´ lat., to Cape Comorin, in 8º 4´ lat., no large river succeeds in reaching the western coast from the interior table-land. The Western Gháts form, in fact, a lofty unbroken barrier between the waters of the central plateau and the Indian Ocean. The drainage had therefore to make its way across India to the eastwards, now turning sharply round projecting ranges, now tumbling down ravines, or rushing along the valleys, until the rain which the Bombay sea-breeze had dropped upon the Western Ghátz finally falls into the Bay to Bengal. In this way the three great rivers of the Madras Presidency, viz., the Godávari, the Krishna, and the Káveri (Cauvery), rise in the mountains overhanging the western coast, and traverse the whole breadth of the central table-land before they reach the sea on the eastern shores of India.

The physical geography and the political destiny of the two sides of the Indian peninsula have been determined by the characteristics of the mountain ranges on either coast. On the east, the country is comparatively open, and was everywhere accessible to the spread of civilization. On the east, therefore, the ancient dynasties of southern India fixed their capitals. Along the west, only a narrow strip of lowland intervenes between the barrier range and the seaboard. The inhabitants of those tracts remained apart from the civilization of the eastern coast. To this day one of their ruling races, the Nairs, retain land-tenures and social customs, such as polyandry, which mark a much ruder stage of human advancement then Hinduism, and in other parts of India only linger among isolated hill tribes. On the other hand, the people of the western coast enjoy a bountiful rainfall, unknown in the inner plateau and the east. The monsoon dashes its rain-laden clouds against the Western Gháts, and pours from 250 to 100 inches of rain upon their slopes from Khándesh down to Malabar. By the time that the monsoon has crossed the Western Gháts, it has dropped the greater part of its aqueous burden, and central districts, such as Bangalore, obtain only about 35 inches. The eastern coast also receives a monsoon of its won ; but, except in the neighbourhood of the sea, the rainfall throughout the Madra presidency is scantly, seldom exceeding 40 inches in the year. The deltas of the three great rivers along the Madras coast form, of course, tracts of inexhaustible fertility; and much is done by irrigation on the thirsty inland plateau to husband and utilize both the local rainfall and the accumulated waters which the rivers bring down.

In the valleys, and upon the elevated plains of the central plateau, tillage has driven back the jungle to the hilly recesses, and fields of rice and many kinds of smaller grain or millets, tobacco, cotton, sugar-cane, and pulses spread over the open country. The black soil of the Deccan is proverbial for its fertility; and the level strip between the Western Gháts and the sea rivals even Lower Bengal in its fruit-bearing palms, rice harvests, and rich succession of crops. The deltas on the eastern side have from time immemorial celebrated as rice-bearing tracts. The interior of the table-land, as may be inferred from the scanty rainfall, is liable to drought. The people contend against the calamities of nature by varied systems of irrigation,—drawing their water-supply in some districts from wells, in others from tanks and reservoirs, or from large artificial formed by damming up the ends of river valleys. They thus store the rain brought during a few months by the monsoon, and husband it for use throughout whole year. The food of the common people consists of small grains, such as joár, bájra, and rágí. The great export is cotton, with wheat from the northern districts of Bombay. The pepper trade with Malabar dates far beyond the age of Sindbad the Sailor, and probably reaches back to Roman times. Cardamoms, spices of various sorts, dyes, and many medicinal drugs are also grown.

It is on the three-sided table-land, and among the hilly spurs which project from it, that the mineral wealth of India lies hid. Coal-mining now forms a great industry on the north-eastern side of the table-land, in Bengal, and also in the Central Provinces. The commercial aspects of this similar undertakings will be dealt with in a later section of the present article. Beds of ironore and limestone have been worked in several places, and hold out a possibility of a new era of enterprise to India in the future. Many districts are rich in building stone, marbles and the easily worked laterite. Copper and other metals exist in small quantities. Gold dust has from very ancient times been washed out of the river-beds, and gold-mining is being attempted on scientific principles in Madras and Mysore.

Of the three regions of India, now briefly surveyed the first, or the Himálayas, lies for the most part beyond the British frontier, but a knowledge of it supplies the key to the ethnology and history of India. The second region, or the great river plains in the north formed the theatre of the ancient race-movements which shaped the civilization and the political destinies of the whole Indian peninsula. The third region, or the triangular table-land in the south, has a character quite distinct from either of the other two divisions, and a population which is now working out a separate development of its own. Broadly speaking, the Himálayas are people by Turanian tribes; the great river plains of Hindustán are still the home of the Aryan race ; the triangular table-land has formed an arena for a long struggle between that gifted race from the north and what is known as the Dravidian stock in the south.

To this vast empire the English have added British Burmah, consisting of the lower valley of the Irawadi (Irrawaddy) with its delta, and a long flat strip stretching down the eastern side of the Bay of Bengal. Between the narrow maritime tract and the Irawadi runs a backbone of lofty ranges. These ranges, known as the Yoma (Roma) mountains, are covered with dense forests, and both historically and geographically separate the Irawadi valley from the strip of coast. The Yoma (Roma) ranges have peaks exceeding 4000 feet, and culminate in the Blue Mountain (7100 feet). They are crosssed by passes, one of which, the An or Aeng, rises to 4668 feet above the sea-level. A thousand creeks indent the seaboard ; and the whole of the level country, both on the coast and in the Irawadi valley, forms one vast rice-field. The river floats down an abundant supply of teak and bamboos from the north. Tobacco, of an excellent quality, supplies the little cigars which all Burmese (men, women, and children) smoke. Arakan and Pegu, or the provinces of the coast strip and the Irawadi valley, contains mineral oil-springs. Tenasserim forms a long narrow maritime province, which runs from the mouths, of the Irawadi southward to Point Victoria, where the British territory adjoins Siam. It is rich in tin mines, and contains iron-ores equal to the finest Swedish, besides gold and copper in smaller quantities, and a very limestone. Rice and timber from the staple exports, of Brumah; and rice is also the universal food of the people. British Burmah, with Tenasserim, has an area of 88,556 square miles, and had a population, in 1876, of just under 3 millions of persons.

Read the rest of this article:
India - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-21 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries