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Mergui Archipelago

Travel Guide Asia Myanmar Mergui Archipelago

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Introduction

The Mergui Archipelago is an archipelago in far southern Myanmar (Burma) and is part of the Tanintharyi Region. It consists of more than 800 islands, varying in size from very small to hundreds of square kilometres, all lying in the Andaman Sea off the western shore of the Malay Peninsula near its landward (northern) end where it joins the rest of Indochina. Occasionally the islands are referred to as the Pashu Islands because the Malay inhabitants are locally called Pashu.

Mergui was the name given by the British to the southernmost part of Myanmar. The Mergui Archipelago was off-limits to foreigners until 1997. Although it is now open for tourism, access is limited and it remains largely unexplored. It has a beautiful sea-port. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold. Most of the people are Buddhists. There are many important offices, hospitals, hotels, banks, schools, universities and Myeik shopping center. Many high-rise buildings have been built. Myeik is famous for its products such as pearls, rubber, edible bird's nests, dried fish, dried prawns and ngapi (shrimp paste). Fresh seafood (such as fish, prawns, crabs), fruits and vegetables are plentiful. The people are friendly, honest, helpful, generous and religious.

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Geography

Geologically, the islands are characterized mainly by limestone and granite. They are generally covered with thick tropical growth, including rainforest, and their shorelines are punctuated by beaches, rocky headlands, and in some places, mangrove swamps. Offshore are extensive coral reefs. The archipelago's virtual isolation from most of mankind's influence on the natural environment has given the islands and the surrounding waters of the Andaman Sea a great diversity of flora and fauna, contributing to the region's growing popularity as a diving destination, representing endangered megafaunas such as whale sharks and dugongs.

The area is also important for migrating cetaceans and the "Whale Bay" in the east of Kanmaw Kyun was named historical presences of large number of whales. Such variety includes resident population of Bryde's whales, Omura's whales, occasional blue whales, longman's beaked whales, strap-toothed whales, and killer whales, dolphins, finless porpoises, and Irrawaddy dolphins. On the islands themselves, various animals thrive, including deer, monkeys, tropical birds including hornbills, and wild swine. There are even unconfirmed reports of Sumatran rhinoceros on Lanbi, one of the bigger islands, but this has been widely discredited.

Environmental threats to the region include overfishing and also blast fishing. Myanmar's current military government, the "State Peace and Development Council", has not done much to deal with these problems.

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Sights and Activities

The best diving conditions exist from December to April, with whale sharks and manta rays visiting from February to May.

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Eat/Drink

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This is version 2. Last edited at 8:59 on Jul 24, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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