1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bhamo

BHAMO, a town and district of Burma. The town was in ancient times the capital of the Shan state of Manmaw, later the seat of a Burmese governor. It is now the headquarters of a district in the Mandalay division of Upper Burma (Chinese frontier). It is situated about 300 m. up the river from Mandalay. It is the highest station on the Irrawaddy held by British troops, and the nearest point on the river to the Chinese frontier. In 1901 it contained 10,734 inhabitants, of whom a considerable number were Chinamen, natives of India and Shan-Chinese. It stretches for a distance of nearly 4 m. along the Irrawaddy bank in a series of small villages, transformed into quarters of the town, but the town proper is confined mainly to the one high ridge of land running at right angles to the river. The surface of the ground is much cut up by ravines which fill and dry up according to the rise and fall of the river. When the Irrawaddy is at its height the lower portion of the town is flooded, and the country all round is a sheet of water, but usually for no very long time. Here or hereabouts has long been the terminus of a great deal of the land commerce from China. For years after its annexation by Great Britain in 1885 the trade routes were unsafe owing to attacks from Kachins. These have now ceased, and the roads, which were mere bridle-tracks, have been greatly improved. The two chief are the so-called Santa and Ponlaing route, through Manyün (Manwaing) and Nantien to Momein, and the southern or Sawadi route by way of Namhkam. Cart roads are now being constructed on both routes, and that south of the Taiping river could easily be continued through Manyün to Momein if the Chinese should be induced to co-operate. There is a fairly large military garrison in Bhamo distributed between two forts to the north and east of the town. There are in general stationed here a native regiment, two sections of a battery and the wing of a European regiment. Besides the barracks there are a circuit house, dâk bungalow, courthouse, and post and telegraph offices. There is a branch railway from Myitkyina to Katha, whence there is daily communication by river to Bhamo.

The District of Bhamo lies wholly in the basin of the Irrawaddy, which, as well as its tributaries, runs through the heart of it. On the east of the river is the Shan plateau, running almost due north and south. West of the Irrawaddy there is a regular series of ranges, enclosing the basins of the Kaukkwe, Mosit, Indaw and other streams, down which much timber is floated. Beyond the Kaukkwe there is a ridge of hills, which starts at Leka, near Mogaung, and diverges to the south, the eastern ridge dividing the Kaukkwe from the Mosit, and the western forming the eastern watershed of the Nam Yin and running south into Katha. It is an offshoot from the latter of these ridges that forms the third defile of the Irrawaddy between Bhamo and Sinbo. The district covers an area of 4146 sq. m., and the population in 1901 was 79,515. It is mainly composed of Shan-Burmese and Kachins. The Shan-Burmese inhabit the valleys and alluvial plains on each side of the river. The Kachins, who probably came from the sub-regions of the Himalayas, occupy the hills throughout the district. There are also settlements of Shans, Shan-Chinese, Chinese and Assamese. There are extensive fisheries in the Shwegu and Mo-hnyin circles, and in the Indaw, a chain of lakes just behind the Mosit, opposite Shwegu. The district abounds in rich teak forests, and there are reserves representing 60,000 acres of teak plantation. The whole of the country along the banks of the Irrawaddy, the Mole, Taiping and Kaukkwe, is generally in a water-logged condition during the rains. The climate in the district is therefore decidedly malarious, especially at the beginning and end of the rains. From November to March there is very bracing cold weather. The highest temperatures range a few degrees over 100° F. up to 106°, and the lowest a few degrees under 40°. The average maximum for the year is about 87°, the average minimum about 62°. The rainfall averages 72 in. a year.  (J. G. Sc.)