Extending for 1,275 miles (2,050 km) from north to south, Myanmar encompasses diverse climatic zones and land- scapes, and new species are being discovered each year as the country slowly opens up to foreign researchers. Its spectacular coastal jungles and central rain forests are lush year round, while the sunbaked plain at the heart of the country and the paddy fields of the Ayeyarwady Delta remain parched for seven or eight months.
Alluvial deposits swept annually from the interior by the Ayeyarwady have created a vast, low-lying delta on the Bay of Bengal, Myanmar’s most fertile and densely populated region.
The Dry Zone
Sheltered by the Rakhine-Yoma Hills, the central river plains receive less rainfall than the rest of the country. Bleached, cracked soil and sun- scorched scrub predominate in the winter.
Deforestation in Myanmar
Myanmar’s forests are disappearing at an alarming speed. Between 1990 and 2005, the country lost around 18 per cent of its woodland, and the rate has grown exponentially over the past decade. In spite of international embargoes, teak, in particular, continues to be exported in huge quantities, earning vast reve- nues for Myanmar’s military. Government corruption and the readiness of the country’s neigh bors to turn a blind eye in return for shortterm finan cial gain have left great swaths of land bare and unproductive.
Renowned for their reserves of teak, the hills around Myanmar’s central river plains have long been a biodiversity hot spot. However, logging has taken a drastic toll on the region’s wildlife.
Parts of Myanmar’s1,200 miles (1,930 km) of uninter rupted coastline are still backed by tropical forest and mangroves. Offshore, the waters of the Andaman are rich in marine life.