- Burma is blessed with navigable rivers, especially the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) and Chindwin (Chindwinn), and river transport was long the principal mode of transport between Upper and Lower Burma. Navigable rivers are estimated to total 6,452 kilometers (4,000 miles), of which about half are in the Irrawaddy Delta. Rangoon (Yangon) has been connected to the Irrawaddy River by the 35-kilometer-long (22-mile-long) Twante Canal since the late 19th century, when it was constructed by the British. During the colonial period, river boats carried more passengers and freight than rail transport; in central Burma, the Scottishowned Irrawaddy Flotilla Company operated a virtual monopoly, squeezing out local competitors. When Burma attained independence in 1948, the Irrawaddy Flotilla and the Arakan Flotilla Companies were nationalized and merged under the Inland Water Transport Board (known as the Inland Water Transport Corporation after 1972). Since 1988, China has invested heavily in Burma's water transport facilities, including both powered vessels and barges. Coastal shipping is extensive. Oceangoing vessels are owned by Myanmar Five Star Line, a state corporation established in 1959, and the major port is Rangoon, whose facilities are being modernized. Since the Ne Win era, many young Burmese men have served in the world's merchant marine as a way of earning hard currency, though not necessarily on Burmese-registered ships.
Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). Donald M. Seekins . 2014.
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