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Economy, Transportation

Salween River, British times, Burma Road, Irrawaddy River, Pegu

The railroad system has been owned and operated by the government since British times; it includes 3,336 km (2,073 mi) of track. The railroad links Moulmein, Yangon, Pegu, Mandalay, and the other major cities but does not connect with railroads outside of Myanmar. Far more important for moving domestic passengers and cargo are the inland waterways, which total about 12,800 km (about 8,000 mi) of navigable rivers and canals, about 3,200 km (about 2,000 mi) of which are open to large commercial vessels. Most of Myanmar’s larger towns and cities are river ports; Yangon and Pegu are near the mouths of the Irrawaddy River, Bassein is on one of the mouths of the Irrawaddy, Mandalay is on the upper Irrawaddy near the branching of the Chindwin River, and Moulmein is located at the mouth of the Salween River.

There are 28,200 km (17,523 mi) of roads in Myanmar, of which 12 percent are paved, two-thirds are gravel, and the rest passable most easily by jeep or ox cart. In the 1990s the government has focused considerable energy on reconstructing roads, often with volunteer or forced labor. Altogether, however, the amount of new road added since 1990 has averaged less than 200 km (120 mi) per year, compared to an average of 970 km (603 mi) per year in previous years. There are extensive road links and several bridge links with Thailand and China. The Burma Road, which extended from northeast of Mandalay into China, played an important role in World War II.

Myanmar Airways, the government-owned airline, has international service from Yangon to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Kolkata. Other international carriers provide direct flights to Mandalay and the tourist site at Pagan. Domestic flights have also been modernized by joint ventures with Singapore companies.



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