Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/1355

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PRODUCTION AND INDUSTIIY — COMMERCE 901)

Arinstvong.s, 8 (|uick-firing 6-poundcrs, launched in Scotland, 1892. The small cruisev Ma hut llachakumar, 14 knots, 650 tons, was bought at Hong- kong in 1891. JJesides tliese there are 4 gunboats, 1 training ship, 1 torpedo store sliip, 3 transports, 4 despatch boats, and 5 yachts. Some of the vessels are mere hulks, one or two having had their engines taken out. A gunboat recently built at Hong Kong is called NikraUia. Her tonnage is 137 'S. In this list 40 steamers and launches from 100 tons downwards, for Government service on the river and along the coast, are not included. There arc 10,000 men available in five shifts for service afloat, besides a reserve of 2,000.

The marine infantry, recruited from the inhabitants of the maritime provinces, between 22 and 4C years of age, numbers 15,000 in six shifts, besides a 1st and 2nd reserve of 3,000 and 2,000 respectively.

At the mouth of the Miinam River are the Paknam forts. The bar prevents ships of more than 13 feet draught from ascending to Bangkok.

Production and Industry.

There is comparatively little industry in the country, mainly owing to tlie state of serfdom in which the population is kept by the local governors. Throughout the whole of Siam the natives arc liable to forced labour for a certain period of the year, varying from one to three months, in conserpience of which the land, rich in many parts, is badly cultivated. Domestic slavery is in gradual process of abolition, such slavery as exists being entirely debt slavery. By an edict of the present King no person born on or after his ]\Iajesty's accession can be legally held in slavery beyond the age of 21. But free labour is still very hard to obtain in any quantities. Chinese coolies do the chief part of both skilled and unskilled labour in the south, especially in the mills and in mining ; while in the north forest work is confined almost entirely to Burmese, Karens, and Khamus. At the head of the delta of the j\Ienam many canals for irrigation have recently been dug, and the region has thus been rendered fit for rice-growing. The chief produce of the country is rice, which forms the national food and the staple article of export. Other produce is pepper, salt, dried fish, cattle, and sesame ; while, for local consumption only, hemp, tobacco, cotton, and coffee are grown. Fruits are abundant, including the durian, mangosteen, and mango. Much of Upper Siam is dense forest, and the cutting of teak is an important industry, almost entirely in British hands. In 1895, 20,320 logs were exported ; in 1896, 20,409. In 1896 new forestry regulations were put in force, and, for the next six years at least, an undiminished output may be expected. Gold is found in many of the provinces, and concessions have been granted to mining companies. For tin-mining one concession has been granted. The ruby and sapphire mines in Chantabun are worked by an English company. The mineral resources of Siam are extensive and varied, including copper, coal and iron, zinc, manganese, antimony, probably quicksilver. In some places diamonds have been found.

Commerce.

Nearly the whole of the trade is in the hands of foreigners, and in recent years many Chinese, not subject like the natives to forced labour, have settled in the country. The foreign trade of Siam centres in Bangkok, the capital.

In 1896 the imports amounted to 2,104, 432Z. ; in 1897 to 2,484,807Z. In 1896 the exports amounted to 3,036,29U. ; in 1897 to 3,203,218/. Tho chief imports and exports in two years wove : —