Salween River

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This article has been extracted from



Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Salween River

(called Thanlwin by the Burmese and Nam Kong by the Shans) The^p&t important river of Burma after the Irra- waddy Like'its sister streamy it flows generally from north to south. So far as is known, the springs of this headstrong and turbulent waterway, whi^h has been described as the most uncompionnsmg natural boundary 4 m the world, are situated at about the 3 2nd or 33rd parallel of latitude in unexplored country to the east of Tibet, far north of the sources of the Irrawaddy , and at about the 27th parallel of latitude only a comparatively narrow watershed separates its channel from that of the N'maikha.

It is not, however, till it has penetrated three degrees farther south that it enters British territory. Thence flowing southwards and ploughing between steep hills, it bisects the Shan States and Karenm, receiving, among other tributaries from both British and foieign territory, the Nam Pang, the Nam Teng, and the Nam Pawn from the west, and the Nam Ting, the Nam Hka, and the Nam Hsim from the east.

After passing the southern limit of Karenni, it forms the boundary between Siam and the Salween District of Lower Burma till a point is reached, at the northern end of Thaton District, where the Thaungyin, the boundary between Burma and Siam farther south, pours into it from the south-east.

Southward from this point the Salween passes down the centre of Thaton District, and after receiving the waters of the Yunzalm from the west, and those of the Gyaing and the Attaran from the east, discharges itself, after a course within British territory of about 650 miles, into the Gulf of Martaban below the wooded heights of Moulmem, Of greater length than the Irrawaddy, its narrow rocky bed and frequent rapids render it, unlike that stream, practically useless for the purposes of through navigation, though as a waterway it is of no less value than its eastern sister, the MEKONG, For timber-floating it is freely utilized. Considerable quanti- ties of teak are annually sent down the stream to a station 60 miles above Moulmem, where the logs are stopped, rafted, and taken on to Moulmein for shipment by sea With the exception of Moulmein no towns of any importance stand on the Salween, and even villages of considerable size are few.

The river is not bridged in British tem- tory, but is crossed at intervals by ferries, Of these, the most important are the Kun Long, close to a point once selected as the terminus for the Northern Shan States Railway, the Taw Kaw (Kaw ferry) on the main route between Kengtung and the railway, the Taw Maw ferry in Kaienni, and the ferries at Kyaukhnyat and Dagwin in Salween Dis- trict. The Salween has no value for irrigation. Of late years navigation between Moulmein and the sea has been increasing in difficulty, and the improvement of the channel is in contemplation.

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