BASSEIN DISTRICT 107
in the District. The whole face of the country is intersected by tidal
channels, but they are for the most part unimportant waterways. The
principal river is the Ngawun (or BASSEIN), which, leaving the Irrawaddy
a short distance above Henzada, pursues a course almost due south
through the whole length of the District, till it falls into the sea at
Hainggyi. Its chief tributaries are the Daga, joining it about I4 miles
north of Bassein, and the Panmawadi, whose waters fall into it some
28 miles south of that town. The Bassein river has two mouths, but
the eastern branch is silted up with sand and is useless for navigation.
The western or main branch, on the other hand, is easily navigable by
ocean-going vessels of a draught up to 27 feet, and is the main waterway
to the town of Bassein.
Numerous stretches of water are found in the District; but the one
real lake, called the Inye, has a circumference of 7 miles, and averages
I5 feet in depth in the dry season. It is situated in the Kyonpyaw
township, about 4 miles from Kyonpyaw in the north-east of the District.
Islands are plentiful in the lower reaches of the Bassein river; but the
only two deserving of special mention are Hainggyi or Negrais, near
Pagoda Point, where the first British trading settlement in Burma was
started, and DIAMOND ISLAND, called by the Burmans Thamihla
('beautiful daughter'), a low wooded islet about a square mile in area
at the very mouth of the river.
The soil of a portion of the northern part consists of the usual
agglomeration of clay and silt deposit common to alluvial rice-growing
plains. North of Bassein town and east of Ngaputaw considerable
beds of laterite are met with, covered in places with sandy deposits.
On the west coast a remarkable patch of calcareous sandstone occurs.
The Nummulitic or eocene group of rocks is well developed; in the
Yoma and in the south these have been termed the Negrais beds.
Subordinate to the sandstone an irregular bed of conglomerate occurs,
which is, however, marked only near Ywatpa, where there is a so-called
mud volcano. This is really only a small vent discharging marsh-gas,
connected geologically, no doubt, with the mud volcanoes of Arakan.
In the south, at Tonbo and Kyaukthinbaw, limestone of the very best
quality is found. The supply is practically inexhaustible, the locality
is convenient for working, and in consequence this area has been largely
drawn on by the railway for ballasting the lately completed line from
Rangoon to Bassein. Soapstone in small quantities is found in the
Arakan Yoma, chiefly on the western slopes.
The botany of Bassein is similar to that of HANTHAWADDY DISTRICT.
Large areas of mangrove swamp are found near the rivers, and inland
are evergreen tropical forests. Palms of various kinds are common.
The main varieties of timber trees are enumerated under the heading