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The Intha of Inle Lake

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The glassy waters of Inle Lake support a population of between 70,000 and 100,000 people, most of whom are members of an ethnic minority group called the Intha. Originally from Dawei (Tenasserim), in the far southeast of Myanmar, the Intha settled in the region in the 18th century, fleeing invasions by their Thai neighbors across the border. It is said that the local Shan chief refused to grant them rights to land around Inle, which is allegedly why the Intha built their stilt houses on the fluctuating waterline of the lake itself. Brilliantly adapted to the climate and ecosystem, the way of life they have since evolved – from their distinctive one-legged rowing style to their impressively fertile floating gardens – is unique in Southeast Asia.

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