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Inle Lake, Burma

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Inle Lake, Burma

Coordinates: 20 30 N 96 58 E

Elevation: 3,000 feet (914 m)

Length: 12 miles (19 km) long

Houseboats and floating homes may be relatively familiar concepts to many around the world, but entire floating villages remain unusual—at least unless sea levels rise with global warming. An exception exists however. Not far from the Thai border in Eastern Burma (Myanmar), the Intha people—also known as Dawe—have developed quite a remarkable lifestyle, building huts on stilts or on islands of decayed plant matter in the middle of this body of fresh water. Several unique forms of aquatic life ply the shallow depths of Inle Lake, supporting the human population as well as a variety of waterfowl. Regrettably, and in spite of their rather remote location on the Shan Plateau, the Intha fishers, farmers, and weavers have not been spared from Burma’s military regime.

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Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.

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