The Shan Highlands

Geographically Shan State borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south. It is made up of five administrative divisions of mainland in the west. Being the Largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km², almost a quarter of the total area of Burma. The state gets its name from the Shan people, one of several ethnic groups that inhabit the area. Most of the Shan State region is full of hilly plateaus, which joined together with the higher mountains in the north and south forms the Shan Hills system. The gorge of the Thanlwin (Salween) River cuts across the state allowing many settlements to be formed along the river.

Shan State is the largest of Myanmar’s seven states located in Eastern Myanmar, sharing a border with China in the north and Thailand in the south. The Shan plateau is picturesque with its natural beauty that includes the Shan Hills, often referred to as Shan Highlands stretching across to neighboring Thailand. The hills with their narrow valleys are a trekkers’ delight, who get to see the alignment of the mountain ranges to the Himalayan foothills in the North West.

Myanmar, interestingly also offers numerous hills less climbed-that crown its northern fringes. The mountains and hills are largely along the borders of the country with neigh- boring India, China, Laos and Thailand, and in the past, served as barriers to entry. The opening up of the country and tourist foot falls increasing have led to increased interest in the exploration of Myanmar’s highlands, which are now catching the world’s eye. Highland is a term used for a mountainous region that rises above the surrounding areas. It could be a mountainous plateau, hilly terrain or even steep, high mountains. These less explored hills and mountains, with their snowclad peaks and rugged, steep climbs uphill, offer Alpine climate, thick natural forests, and a flavour of life unseen elsewhere. Many of them are not even inhabited due to tough living conditions and climate.

The Shan Hills (Shan Yoma), also known as Shan Highland, is a vast mountainous zone that extends through Yunnan to Burma and Thailand. The whole region is made up of numerous mountain ranges separated mostly by narrow valleys as well as a few broader intermountain basins. The ranges in the area are aligned in such a way that they link to the foothills of the Himalayas further to the northwest. Just behind Mandalay rise the first majestic foothills of the Shan Plateau, which can reach a height of over 2000 meters. This mountainous landscape is very beautiful, and the mild climate made the region very popular with the British. During the day it is pleasantly warm, but at night the temperatures can drop dramatically due to the altitude.

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