Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/16

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Sagaing from the Upper Chindwin. Between these ranges and on both sides of the Mu is a plain, unbroken except for some isolated hills in the north and north-east and the low Sadaung-gyi range in the south-east. The greater part of this plain is a rice- growing tract, but on the sloping ground maize, millets, sesamum, cotton and peas are raised. A good deal of sugar is also produced from groves of the tari palm. The Mu river is navigable for three months in the year, from June to August, but in the dry season it can be forded almost anywhere. A good deal of salt is produced in a line which closely follows the railway. Coal has been worked at Letkokpin, near the Irrawaddy.

The Ye-u reserved forests are much more valuable than those to the east on the Minwun and the Mudein. Extensive irrigation works existed in Shwebo district, but they fell into disrepair in King Thibaw's time. Chief of these was the Mahananda Lake. The old works have recently been in process of restoration, and in 1906 the main canal was formally opened. The rainfall follows the valleys of the Mu and the Irrawaddy, and leaves the rest of the district comparatively dry. It varies from an average of 29 to 49 in. The average temperature is 90° in the hot season, and falls to 60° or 61° in the cold season, the maximum and minimum readings being 104° and 56°.

SIALKOT, or Sealkote, a town and district of British India, in the Lahore division of the Punjab. The town, which has a station on the North-Western railway, is 72 m. N.E. of Lahore. Pop. (1901) 57,956. It is a military cantonment, being the headquarters of a brigade in the 2nd division of the northern army. There are remains of a fort dating from about the 10th century; but the mound on which they stand is traditionally supposed to mark the site of a much earlier stronghold, and some authorities identify it with the ancient Sakala or Sagal. Other ancient buildings are the shrine of Baba Nanak, the first Sikh Guru, that of the Mahommedan Imam Ali-ul-hakk and Raja Tej Singh's temple. The town has an extensive trade, and manufactures of sporting implements, boots, paper, cotton, cloth and shawl-edging. There are Scottish and American missions, a Scottish mission training institution and an arts college.

The District of Sealkote has an area of 1991 sq. m. It is an oblong tract of country occupying the submontane portion of the Rechna (Ravi-Chenab) Doab, fringed on either side by a line of fresh alluvial soil, above which rise the high banks that form the limits of the river-beds. The Degh, which rises in the Jammu hills, traverses the district parallel to the Ravi, and is likewise fringed by low alluvial soil. The north-eastern boundary is 20 m. distant from the outer line of the Himalayas; but about midway between the Ravi and the Chenab is a high dorsal tract, extending from beyond the border and stretching far into the district. Sialkot is above the average of the Punjab in fertility. The upper portion is very productive; but the southern portion, farther removed from the influence of the rains, shows a marked decrease of fertility. The district is also watered by numerous small torrents; and several swamps or jhils, scattered over the face of the country, are of considerable value as reservoirs of surplus water for purposes of irrigation. Sialkot is reputed to be healthy; it is free from excessive heat, judged by the common standard of the Punjab; and its average annual rainfall varies from 35 in. near the hills to 22 in. in the parts farthest from them. The population in 1901 was 1,083,909, showing a decrease of 3% as against an increase of 11% in the previous decade. This is explained by the fact that Sialkot contributed over 100,000 persons to the Chenab colony (q.v.). The principal crops are wheat, barley, maize, millets and sugar-cane. The district is crossed by a branch of the North-Western railway from Wazirabad to Jammu.

The early history of Sialkot is closely interwoven with that of the rest of the Punjab. It was annexed by the British after the second Sikh war in 1849; since then its area has been considerably reduced, assuming its present proportions in 1867. During the Mutiny of 1857 the native troops plundered the treasury and destroyed all the records, when most of the European residents took refuge in the fort.

SIAM (known to its inhabitants as Muang Thai), an independent kingdom of the Indo-Chinese peninsula or Further India. It lies between 4° 20′ and 20° 15′ N. and between 96° 30′ and 106° E., and is bounded N. by the British Shan States and by the French Laos country, E. by the French Laos country and by Cambodia, S. by Cambodia and by the Gulf of Siam, and W. by the Tenasserim and Pegu divisions of Burma. A part of Siam which extends down the Malay Peninsula is bounded E. by the Gulf of Siam and by the South China Sea, S. by British Malaya and W. by the lower part of the Bay of Bengal. The total area is about 220,000 sq. m. (For map, see Indo-China.)

The country may be best considered geographically in four parts: the northern, including the drainage area of the four rivers which unite near Pak-Nam Po to form the Menam Chao Phaya; the eastern, including the drainage area of the Nam Mun river and its tributaries; the central, including the drainage area of the Meklong, the Menam Chao Phaya and the Bang Pakong rivers; and the southern, including that part of the country which is situated in the Malay Peninsula. Northern Siam is about 60,000 sq. m. in area. In general appearance it is a series of parallel ranges of hills, lying N. and S., merely gently sloping acclivities in the S., but rising into precipitous mountain masses in the N. Between these ranges flow the rivers Meping, Mewang, Meyom and Menam, turbulent shallow streams in their upper reaches, but slow-moving and deep where they near the points of junction. The longest of them is over 250 m. from its source to its mouth. The Meping and Mewang on the W., rising among the loftiest ranges, are rapid and navigable only for small boats, while the Meyom and Menam, the eastern pair, afford passage for large boats at all seasons and for deep draught river-steamers during the flood-time. The Menam is the largest, deepest and most sluggish of the four, and in many ways resembles its continuation, the Menam Chao-Phaya lower down. On the W. the river Salween and its tributary the Thoung Yin form the frontier between the Siam and Burma for some distance, draining a part of northern Siam, while in the far north-east, for a few miles below Chieng Sen, the Mekong does the same. The districts watered by the lower reaches of the four rivers are fertile and are inhabited by a considerable population of Siamese. Farther north the country is peopled by Laos, scattered in villages along all the river banks, and by numerous communities of Shan, Karen, Kamoo and other tribes living in the uplands and on the hilltops.

Eastern Siam, some 70,000 sq. m. in area, is encircled by well-defined boundaries, the great river Mekong dividing it clearly from French Laos on the N. and E., the Pnom Dang Rek hill range from Cambodia on the S. and the Dom Pia Fai range from central Siam on the W. The right bank of the Mekong being closely flanked by an almost continuous hill range, the whole of this part of Siam is practically a huge basin, the bottom of which is a plain lying from 200 to 300 ft. above sea-level, and the sides hill ranges of between 1000 and 2000 ft. elevation. The plain is for the most part sandy and almost barren, subject to heavy floods in the rainy season, and to severe drought in the dry weather. The hills are clothed with a thin shadeless growth of stunted forest, which only here and there assumes the characteristics of ordinary jungle. The river Nam Mun, which is perhaps 200 m. long, has a large number of tributaries, chief of which is the Nam Si. The river flows eastward and falls into the Mekong at 15° 20′ N. and 105° 40′ E. A good way farther north two small rivers, the Nam Kum and the Nam Song Kram, also tributaries of the Mekong, drain a small part of eastern Siam. Nearly two million people, mixed Siamese, Lao and Cambodian, probably among the poorest peasantry in the world, support existence in this inhospitable region.

Central Siam, estimated at 50,000 sq. m. in area, is the heart of the kingdom, the home of the greater part of its population, and the source of nine-tenths of its wealth. In general appearance it is a great plain flanked by high mountains on its western border, inclining gently to the sea in the S. and round the inner Gulf of Siam, and with a long strip of mountainous sea-board stretching out to the S.E. The mountain range on the W. is a