Of the countries of south-east Asia Burma (Myanmar) is perhaps the most varied and beautiful, ranging as it does from placid beaches in the south through broad and fertile river plains to snow-clad uplands in the wild border regions with China and Laos. Cherry trees, rhododendrons, magnolia and juniper grow wild in these mountains, in which bears, tigers, leopards and elephants can still be found. A timeless river life continues on and alongside the huge Irrawaddy, over a thousand miles long, that divides the country as it flows to a fertile delta, once the most prolific rice-growing region in the world. Teak from rapidly reducing forests is moved along the river, mostly into China. The Irrawaddy is the main highway of Burma, used by river steamers, fishing boats and barges on which whole families live out their lives.
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