Tenasserim Division, 1908

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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.

Tenasserim Division, 1908

The southernmost Division of Lower Burma, lying between 9° 58' and 19° 29' N. and 95° 48' and 99° 40' E. On the north it is conterminous with Upper Burma ; on the east with Karenni and Siam ; on the west it is bounded by the Pegu Division, the Gulf of Martaban, and the Bay of Bengal ; and in the south it borders on the Malay Peninsula. While its length from north to south exceeds 500 miles, its width is seldom greater than 100 miles. Towards the south it tapers to Victoria Point, extending along the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula, in one place at a distance of only 10 miles from the Gulf of Siam. The islands belonging to the Division extend farther south than the mainland, as far as 9° 38' N. The Division comprises six Districts, four — namely, Mergui (the southernmost), Tavoy, Amherst, and Thaton — lying along the coast, and Salween and Toungoo (the northernmost) in the interior.

The population of the Division, which has its head-quarters at Moulmein, was 576,977 in 1872, 772,620 in 1881, 912,051 in 1891, and 1,159,558 in 1901. Its distribution by Districts in 1901 is shown below : —


The Division contains 4,663 villages and 8 towns, the more impor- tant of the latter being Moulmein (population, 58,446), Tavoy (22,371), Toungoo (15,837), Thaton (14,342), and Mergui (11,987). Of these, the first two are trading centres of considerable importance. The predominant race are the Burmans, who numbered 459,637 in 1901, and are distributed throughout the Division. The Karens (297,084), are also widely diffused, though they are not found as a rule in the tracts near the sea. Takings (practically confined to Thaton and Amherst) numbered 208,694. Taungthus form a considerable portion of the population of Thaton District, and in the Division as a whole number 41,913. Shans, who inhabit Toungoo District chiefly, were returned in 1901 as numbering 18,591. Siamese live in the border country in the south, and the islands of the Mergui Archipelago are the haunt of the vagrant Salons. Divided according to religion, the population of the Division was composed in 1901 of 993.300 Buddhists, 44,840 Animists (mostly Karens), 37,524 Musal- mans, 45,435 Hindus, and 38,269 Christians (in great part Karen converts). Of the Christians, 36,250 were natives. The representa- tives of other religions were numerically insignificant.

Unlike the Arakan Division, Tenasserim was at no time of its known history a political entity. At the accession of Wariyu, king of Marta- ban, it was partly Burmese and partly Siamese territory, with the Salween river as boundary. Wariyu, however, extended his sway in the thirteenth century over the greater part of the present Division. Ceaseless struggles ensued in subsequent years between the Talaing and Siamese kingdoms, the latter gaining all but the present Toungoo District in the seventeenth century. The rise of Alaungpaya, however, put an end once and for all to the Siamese power. In 1826 the country south of the Salween was ceded to the British by the Treaty of Yandabo, and the remainder — Toungoo, Salween, and part of Thaton — was occupied after the second Burmese War in 1852.

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