330 THATOZV DISTRICT
after a course of z8o miles. The SITTANG, for the last 40 miles of its
course, forms the western boundary of the District. It has done much
damage lately by eroding the rice plain on the left bank near its
mouth, destroying about 5,ooo acres annually, while new land has been
thrown up in Hanthawaddy and Pegu Districts on the opposite bank.
Pegu has thus gained an area not far short of roo square miles during
the past twenty years.
Very little is known of the geology of Thaton. The Martaban and
Dawna hills are of laterite, and the Bilin and Kelatha hills of a
limestone formation, belonging to what has been denominated the
Moulmein series of rocks. Isolated limestone hills, of the age of the
Carboniferous limestone of Europe, occur frequently in the north-
eastern portion of the District, illustrating the denudation to which
the Palaeozoic beds of the Salween valley have been subjected. The
low-lying tract to the south-west of the District has emerged within
historical times from the sea ; but it is not clear how far this has been
due to the elevation of the sea-bottom, and how far to the level of the
land being raised by deposits of silt.
The flora is of the type ordinarily met with in the wet areas of Lower
Burma (see HANTHAWADDY DiSTRICT). The main timber trees are
referred to below under the head of Forests.
A few wild elephants are to be found in the north-west and north-
east of the District. Leopards abound, and venture at times into the
purlieus of Thaton town. Tigers are not numerous, but bears are
common. The barking-deer and hog deer are fairly plentiful in parts.
Near .Pagat on the Salween the serow is found in the hills. The
District is remarkable for the scarcity, of wild-fowl of all kinds. Very
few of the migratory ducks appear to visit it.
The climate, though moist and oppressive, is in general salubrious,
exhibiting no extremes of heat or cold; and the littoral tract generally
enjoys a cool breeze from the Gulf of Martaban. The average mean
temperature in Thaton for four typical months during the decade
ending igoi is as follows: January, 74'; April, 84°; July, 77'; October,
8z°. The rains are heavier in Thaton than in any other District in
Burma, except, perhaps, Tavoy and Sandoway. The average annual
rainfall recorded for the six years ending r9oi was 201 inches at
Thaton and 196 inches at Bilin, a village a little farther north but
about the same distance from the coast.
The District comprises the larger portion of the ancient kingdom
of the Mons or Talaings, known in Pali literature as Ramannadesa,
History. a name famous in sacred legend as the first reposi-
tory of the Buddhist scriptures in Burma. Tradition
points to Thaton town as the cradle of Buddhism in Burma; but
Dr. Forchhammer has shown weighty reasons for placing the earliest