Irrawaddy River, Myanmar (Burma) – January 5th, 2009
This image of central Myanmar allows us to see the marked difference in terrain between the mountainous region to the West and the lowlands to the East.
The mountains, some of which are just capped by snow, are the Arakan Yoma Range (also called the Chin Hills). The highest peak is Nat Ma Taung (Mount Victoria) which reaches 3,053 meters (10,500 feet).
The rich green forests visible in the western region include pine and teak.
Moving eastward, we can see the Irrawaddy River (or Ayeyarwady River), bisecting the country from north to south. The river appears brown in color, as its waters are full of sediments, possibly from the agriculture in the region.
It is the country’s largest river (about 1350 miles or 2170 km long) and its most important commercial waterway, with a drainage area of about 158,700 square miles (411,000 km²).
The Irrawaddy starts in the north of Kachin State, at the confluence of the Mali Hka and N’Mai Hka rivers. The western Mali Hka branch arises from the end of the southern Himalayas, north of Putao.
The Irrawaddy River empties through the nine-armed Irrawaddy Delta into the Indian Ocean. In colonial times, before railways and automobiles, the river was known as the “Road to Mandalay”. Although navigable by large vessels to Myitkyina for a distance over 1600 km from the ocean, the river is also full of sandbanks and islands, making such navigation difficult.