Burma is essentially an agricultural country. Agricultural production, concentrated in the floodplains, has its main harvest in rice. About 7,000,000 tons are produced, a quantity that leaves a large margin for export. Where the rainfall is below 1000 mm., And therefore throughout the arid district, non-irrigated cultivation replaces rice with millet, sesame, groundnuts, cotton and legumes. Throughout the country, fruits, tobacco and forage plants are grown for local use. But Burma has possibility of a much greater agricultural development and official calculations indicate as many as 20 million hectares of wasteland and farmland against 6 1 / 2cultivated (excluding the territory of the Shan states). Of the latter, rice occupies 4,250,000 ha., Sesame 405,000, millet 344,000, various legumes 344,000, pistachios 129,000, cotton 121,000.
Small humped oxen are kept everywhere for pack animals and for plowing: in the delta and in the more humid districts, the stronger buffalo takes over. Goats are numerous in the dry district. An important aid to food is provided by fish, which has many edible species, both in rivers and on the coasts: the most valuable is bekti.
The major mineral product is the oil, which in the period 1921-25 has fomito an average of 276 1 / 2 million gallons (249 gallons = 1 metric ton). Mention has already been made of tin and tungsten, silver galenes and gems: to these we must add the famous Chinese jade, which is obtained from northern Burma and exported to China via the internal route of Mogaung and Bhamo.
From time immemorial the main routes for internal communications have been given by the Irawady with its tributaries. The railways (2,815 kilometers in 1925) serve more as a complement: they are owned by the province, but managed by Burma Railways Ltd. The most important goes from Rangoon to Mandalay, where it is interrupted by the course of the Irawady, but continues on the other shore of this, continuing up to Myitkyina. There is no railway communication with external countries and also the center of the oil basin, Yenangyaung, is accessed by river. The ordinary road network is in very bad conditions: there is not even one suitable for trucks, and, where there is no railway or river, the traveler has to use ox-drawn wagons, elephants or mules, and it is difficult for him to do so. more than 25-30km. per day. Outside of Rangoon and Mandalay there is a lack of hotels: however, there are government houses, where you are welcomed for a small fee, but you have to provide for food and bed yourself. Most of the villages consist of a number of quadrangular huts built of vertical planks and bamboo. The civil head is the hugyi, chosen by the village and recognized by the government.
Indigenous industries include cotton spinning and weaving, as the cheap cottons of England and Japan have nearly eliminated silk fabrics (especially in Amarapura); the lacquer industry (Pagan), the working of silver, carved wood, ceramics a little everywhere. Among the highly organized industries are forestry, oil refineries (Rangoon), silver and lead foundries (Namtu).
The main exported products are: rice, oil, timber, cotton. hides and hides, metals and minerals, legumes, rubber, lacquer; those imported: cottons, cars, household goods, coal, silk, sugar. In 1925-26 the province’s total maritime traffic was nearly 100 million pounds (9200 million lire). 86% of it passes through Rangoon; other notable ports are: Bassein, west of the delta, the port of rice; Akyab, outlet of the Arakan; Moulmein, Tavoy and Mergui serving the Tenasserim. A third of the export goes to India, more than another third to other countries of the British Empire and just a quarter to foreign countries. Import half comes from India, 1 / 5from foreign countries and the rest from other countries of the British Empire. From Italy, Burma imports cotton and wool fabrics, motors and electrical equipment, exports rice, leathers, paraffin wax and pistachio oil. The current currency in the country is that of India.