Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar. It is sandwiched between Kayin State on the east, the Andaman Sea on the west, Bago Division on the north and Tanintharyi Division on the south. It has a short border with Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province at its south-eastern tip. The land area is 12,155 km². Mon State includes many small islands along its 566 km of coastline.
Its capital is Mawlamyaing, formerly Moulmein.
The first recorded kingdom that can undisputedly be attributed to the Mon was Dvaravati which prospered until around 1000 AD when their capital was sacked by the Khmer Empire and most of the inhabitants fled west to present-day Burma and eventually founded new kingdoms. These, too, eventually came under pressure from new ethnic groups arriving from the north.
Lower Burma, including what is now Mon State, was conquered by Great Britain in 1824 after the First Anglo-Burmese War. The Mon assisted the British in the war, in return for promises of their own leadership after the defeat of Burma. Hundreds of thousands of Mons who had migrated into Siam returned to their homeland when it came under British rule. However, British promises to restore the Mon Kingdom were never fulfilled. During colonial times, Moulmein had a substantial Anglo-Burmese population; an area of the city was known as 'Little England' due to the large Anglo-Burmese community, however nowadays this has dwindled to all but a handful of families as most have left for the UK or Australia.
In 1947, the Mon sought self-determination from the yet unformed Union of Burma; however Burmese Prime Minister U Nu refused, saying that no separate national rights for the Mon should be contemplated. The Burmese army moved into areas claimed by the Mon nationalists and imposed rule by force which resulted in a civil war. Mon separatists formed the Mon Peoples Front, which was later superseded by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) in 1962. Since 1949, the eastern hills of the state (as well as portions of Thaninthaya Division) have been under control of the NMSP, and its military arm, the Mon National Liberation Front (MNLF). In addition to fighting the central government, the MNLF has also fought the Karen people over control of lucrative border crossings into Thailand.
In 1974, partially to assuage Mon separatist demands, the theoretically autonomous Mon State, was created out of portions of Thaninthayi Division and Bago Division. Resistance continued until 1995, when NMSP and SLORC agreed a cease-fire and in 1996, the Mon Unity League was founded. SLORC troops continued to operate in defiance of the agreement. The human rights situation in Mon State has not improved. International organizations have repeatedly accused the Myanmar government for massive human rights violations in Mon State, including forced labor, arbitrary detention, population transfer, property confiscation, rape, etc.
Although there are no modern figures on the population of Mon State, it is estimated that the population is around 2,466,000 or 8,466,000. The majority are Mon. However, there is a large number of ethnic Bamar, as well as members of the Kayin,and Pa-O ethnic groups and a small, dwindling Anglo-Burmese community. Many are isolated and many do not understand or speak Burmese. The majority of people are Buddhist. Bordering Bago Division in the south of Sittaung River Mouth, Kayin State in the east, Thailand and Taninthayi Division in the south and Andaman Sea and Gulf of Mottama in the West, Mon state is situated between latitudes 14°52' north and 17°32 ' north and east longitudes 96° 51 ' east and 98° 13 ' east.
Mon State has a cultivated area of nearly 4.5 million acres (18,000 km²), mostly under rice. The major secondary crop is rubber. Orchards and rubber plantations are found in the mountainous areas while Coastal fishing and related industries such as production of dried fish, fish sauce and agar-agar are in southern part, Ye district. Production of Betel nut is also a sustaining business of Mon state, as the Mon pheasants preserved their heredity land onwards along with the government regulations, however, there are some many parts of uncultivated crude land in the area closed to neighbour Karen state. Moreover, modern business development includes growing of cashew trees (acajoύ, in Portuguese), from which they collect the cashew nut for market elsewhere.
Other industries include paper, sugar, rubber tires. Thaton has a major factory (Burmese, Ka-Sa-La) of rubber products run by Ministry of Industry (1). Forests cover approximately half of the area and timber production is one of the major contributors to the economy. Minerals extracted from the area include salt, antimony, and granite. Natural resources such as forest products, and onshore and offshore mineral resources, are exploited only by top Myanmar military leaders and foreign companies. At the present time one of the biggest foreign investments into Myanmar is for the exploitation of natural gas reserves in Mon State. The Yadana Gas project which connected pipelines alongside the towns of Mon state made harassed danger to the native Mon land and Mon people.
In the past during the socialist regime, the trading of Mon state was exceptional because the Mon business persons had fantastic deals with the foreign enterprises from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Imports and exports of goods from and to that countries were made via seaports of Mawlamyaing, Ye and Thanbyuzayat district. Although it seemed to be unofficial trading in the past, it absolutely developed Mon State if compared to the decline economy of the current situation.
The future plans with tourism will benefit Mon state a lot as it has excellent transportation with the capital Rangoon. Transportation routes include Train, Bus, Sea line and Airlines. The newly opened Mawlamyaing Bridge gives quick access from southern Ye to North Bago and Rangoon by a day journey. Three Pagoda Pass is an alternative route which communicates Mon state with neighbour Kanchanaburi province of Thailand.
In Mon State, there are two districts, 10 township, 1 city, 10 town, 1199 villages.
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