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1 . Myanmar     Myanmar
Extending from a northern border with Bangladesh to Thailand in the south, Myanmar has a considerable coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The northern coast is bounded by the Arkan mountain range which extends down to the Arkan Peninsula and then continues below sea level, re-emerging to form a number of small islands north of the Andaman Islands (India). There is a wide level area of coastal plain in the center of the country, dominated by the Ayeyarwady (formerly Irrawaddy) river delta, a large sediment-laden river associated with relatively rapid coastal progradation. In the southeast the coastal plain is again narrow, backed by the Tenasserim Range of mountains. Offshore there are two major island groups: the Moscos Islands to the north and the vast complex of islands forming the Mergui Archipelago in the south.

There is remarkably little information in the scientific literature describing the reef communities of this country, but it seems likely that those on the nearshore islands in the south of the country and around the islands north of the Andamans are extensive and diverse. The Mergui Archipelago consists of over 800 islands, most of which are uninhabited, and many remain forested. Reefs are best developed on the outermost islands, and are thought to be similar to those around the offshore islands of Thailand. Over 100 kilometers offshore from the southern part of the Mergui Archipelago lie the Burma Banks, a series of seamounts which rise up from over 300 meters to flat tops some 15-22 meters below the surface and are reported to have significant hard coral cover. The chain of small islands between the Ayeyarwady Delta and the Andaman Islands is little known but likely to have some interesting and important coral communities. Reefs are also reported at some of the islands off the Bay of Bengal coast and up to the border with Bangladesh.

Myanmar has been a relatively closed country for a number of years and coastal development has been slow, particularly away from the capital. While there is undoubtedly some utilization of reef resources by local people, the pressures are considered to be quite low and the reefs in the south of the country are noted for their significant numbers of large fish, including sharks. At least two marine protected areas have been declared, but there are concerns that resident populations may have been mistreated or displaced for the establishment of these sites. Tourism is growing relatively rapidly since arrangements were made for dive vessels to enter the country in 1997 (via the coastal port of Kawthoung, close to the Thai border), and there are now several vessels operating in the area. Development of the islands themselves has not yet begun.
Source: Spalding, M.D., C. Ravilious and E.P. Green , 2001 , World Atlas of Coral Reefs . Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press,Berkeley,USA.421p. (See Document)

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