30 THE COUNTRY. irrigation, in some districts from wells, in others from tanks, or from artificial lakes formed by damming up the mouths of river valleys. They thus store the rain brought during a few months by the northern and southern monsoons, and husband it for use throughout the whole year. The food of the common people consists chiefly of small grains or millets, such z&joar, bajra, and rdgi. The principal exports are cotton and wheat. Minerals of the Tableland. — It is, moreover, on the three- sided tableland, and among the hilly spurs which project from it, that the mineral wealth of India lies hid. Coal-mining now forms a great industry, both on the north-eastern edge of the tableland in Bengal, and in the valleys of the Central Provinces. Beds of iron ore and limestone hold out a prospect of metal-smelting on a large scale in the future ; copper and other metals exist in small quantities. The diamonds of Golconda were long famous. Gold-dust has from very ancient times been washed out of many of the river beds ; and gold-mining is now being attempted on scientific principles in Madras and Mysore. Burma. — Burma, which the English have incorporated into the Indian Empire, consists mainly of the valley of the Irawadi, and a strip of coast along the east ^ide of the Bay of Bengal. It stretches north and south, with the sea on the west, a back- bone of lofty ranges running down the middle, and the moun- tainous frontier of the Chinese Empire and Siam on the east. The central backbone of ranges in Burma is formed by the Yoma mountains. They are covered with dense forests, and separate the Irawadi valley from the strip of coast. The river floats down an abundant supply of teak from the north. A thousand creeks indent the seaboard ; and the whole of the level country, both on the coast and in the Irawadi valley, forms a vast rice- field. Tobacco of an excellent quality supplies the cigars which all Burmese men and women smoke ; and large quantities of tobacco leaf are also brought over from the Madras Presidency. Until 1886 British Burma was divided into three Provinces — Arakan, or the northern coast strip ; Pegu, or the Irawadi vailey in the middle ; and Tenasserim, or the narrow maritime tract and islands running down from the south of the Irawadi Delta. In 1886 Upper Burma, or the old kingdom of Ava, was added
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/34
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