Sandoway Town

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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.

Sandoway Town

Head-quarters of the District of the same name in Lower Burma, situated in 18 28' N. and 94 21' E., on the left bank of the Sandoway river, 15 miles to the south-east of its mouth and between 4 and 5 miles due east of the sea-coast in a direct line. The town lies in a hollow, about 12 miles long by r broad, which is cultivated with rice and surrounded by hills. The greater part of it slopes gently from the river bank to the Zi chaung, which flows into the river at the west end of the town. The native town is backed by a low hill, on which stands the civil station occupied by the European officials. The officers' residences are in a semicircle overlooking the jail. The courthouse is some little distance off, nearer the river.

It is probable that Dwarawadi, the earliest known capital of the kingdom of Arakan, was, if not identical with Sandoway, at any rate in its neighbourhood. Sandoway was a town of some note at the commencement of the nineteenth century. It was occupied without resistance in the first Burmese War, and was subsequently for some time the head-quarters of the garrison of Arakan. Its growth of late has not been rapid, and it is still little more than a large village. The population in 1901 was 2,845, f whom 1,640 were Buddhists, 967 Musalmans, and 238 of other beliefs. Sandoway was constituted a municipality in 1885, and is the smallest municipality in Burma. The receipts of the municipal fund during the ten years ending 1901 averaged Rs. 8,300, and the expenditure Rs. 7,500. In 1903-4 the receipts were Rs. 11,000, and the expenditure Rs. 9,000.

House and lighting taxes are levied, but market tolls are the most substantial item of revenue, yielding Rs. 6,000. Sandoway, though in direct communi- cation with a roadstead where ocean steamers call, can be reached only by craft of very light draught, and has not been declared a port under the Ports Act. Its trade is registered by the Customs department, but is very small, and its foreign commerce is insignificant. The imports by coasting trade in 1903-4 were valued at Rs. 2,39,000, and the exports at Rs. 26,000. The imports are almost entirely from other ports in Burma. A considerable portion of the export trade of the District does not pass through Sandoway town. It contains a small jail, with accommodation for 84 prisoners, a hospital, and several schools. One of the most important of these is the municipal Anglo- vernacular school, with an attendance of about 120. There is also a mission school for Chins, managed by the American Baptist Union, with 70 Chin pupils in 1903, of whom 24 were girls.

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