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History of Transportation in South Asia

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Lee, Seung Heon
Term Paper, AP World History Class, December 2009

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Topography
II.1 Arid Areas
II.2 Plains
II.3 Bangladesh, India
II.4 Island nations
III. River Navigation
III.1 India, Bangladesh
III.2 Sri Lanka
IV. Beasts of Burden, Caravan Trade
V. Maritime Navigation
V.1 Island Areas
V.2 India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
VI. Canal Construction
VII. Modern Roads and Cars
VIII. Railroads
VIII.1 The Influence of British Rule in India
VIII.2 Modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
VIII.3 Sri Lanka
VIII.4 Little or No Railways
IX. Air Transportation
IX.1. India,. Pakistan, Bangladesh
IX.2. Island nations
IX.3. Landlocked regions
X. Conclusion

I. Introduction
            Transportation is crucial for the social and economic development of a country. It ties together a nation and provides a network for communication and commerce both within and outside the country. This paper looks at the history of transportation in South Asia (namely Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives) through analyzing different methods of transportation and how a region¡¯s topography, colonization and modernization has had an impact on each method.

II. Topography

II.1 Arid areas
            More than two-thirds of Pakistan is arid or semiarid. There are only a few rivers, streams and lakes. There is the Baluchistan plateau to the west, which consists of arid plains and ridges; to the east, there is a series of mountain ranges called the Kirthar; to the north, the Sulaiman stretches as far as the Indus plains. To the arid south, there is an expanse called the Punjab plains which support about 60% of the country¡¯s population. The principal river of Pakistan is called the Indus, which empties into the Arabian Sea. Its major tributaries are the Chenab, Jhelum, and Sutlej. (1)

II.2 Plains
            Plains are often well-irrigated and provide optimal conditions for agriculture. Southern Nepal and the Ganges-Brahmaputra Lowland in India are plains. Southern Nepal is known as the Terai, which consists of both cultivable land and dense jungle. The Terai contains about one-third of Nepal¡¯s population and makes up about one-fourth of the total area. The Ganges-Brahmaputra Lowland is a plain that carries most of India¡¯s major rivers (the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Son, Jumna, Chambal, Gogra, etc.) into the sea. (2)

II.3. Bangladesh, India
            Bangladesh is a tropical country. The Ganges cuts across Northern India and empties out into the Bay of Bengal. The great drainage basin of the Ganges covers a majority of Bangladesh, providing plenty of water channels.
            The river Brahmaputra, also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia. It flows south through Bangladesh, where it merges with the Ganges to form a vast delta. It merges with the Ganges to form the world¡¯s largest delta ? the Sunderbans. (3)
            The mountainous regions of India are central India, the western and eastern sides to the South (the Western and Eastern Ghats), and the southern tip where the Kerala are. The area of western Rajasthan is plains. Rivers such as the great Ganges and Brahmaputra cut across northern India. The Tapi empties into the Gulf of Khambhat in the Arabian Sea and the Bhima empty to the East side into the Bay of Bengal. Two plateaus are bordered in the central and south regions by lower mountains.

II.4. Islands and atolls
            Sri Lanka is an island, separated from the Indian mainland by the Gulf of Mannar. There is a mountain range across the south-central part of Sri Lanka. From this central mountainous area, rivers and streams flow seaward in all directions. (4)
            The Maldives is a group of 1192 coral islands. The atolls have little surface water and have very low levels above sea water. (5)

III River Navigation
            River navigation has been used for a long time ? it has been the primary form of transport in wet regions with frequent floods or rainfall such as Bangladesh and the Gangetic delta in India. The most primitive forms of river navigation in South Asia are small barges and rely upon the changes in water levels during floods, monsoons or heavy rains to facilitate access to more isolated regions. Modernization and developments in technology have made straightening of rivers and careful control of the current and depth of the rivers to allow navigation by larger, motorized vessels.

III.1 India, Bangladesh
            Before the arrival of the British, transportation by river was essential to India, especially for travel to remote places. Country boats travelled along its primitive waterway network. These boats could not carry big loads (at most 60 tons) and had to travel slowly (at most 6 or 7 miles per hour) along silted, often narrow rivers. River communication, though primitive, was preferred over land communication (by bullock-cart) because of the low prices and high accessibility. In present-day Bangladesh, water transport was the only means available in over 10% of the entire area. The four great rivers of India make up the bulk of river navigation in the country ?the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Indus and the Irawadi. The main channels and major tributaries of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, navigable all year round and made up the principal business route linking Calcutta to the British territories in the north and east. The General Steam Navigation Company (founded 1822) was one of the first British efforts to introduce steamships in the journey between England and India. Although initially unsuccessful, with continuous private investment and efforts by Lord Bentinck, Governor General of India from 1828 to 1835 the waterway system within India was gradually improved. In 1834, a regular steamer service on the Ganges was introduced. The increasing international demand for Assam tea prompted the introduction of steamships in the route between Calcutta and Gauhati in 1847 and between Gauhati and Dibrugarh in 1856.
            Up to this point, steamships were not available for ordinary commercial purposes; prices were high and steamships scarce. Steadily, companies such as the Indus Steam Flotilla (established 1859) and the Oriental Inland Steam Company (established 1856) increased steamship cargo service through the rivers of present-day Pakistan. (6) Cargo coming into the Indian subcontinent was unloaded onto small boats, then transported to larger steamers at Jhirk ? the largest modern river navigation terminal of the day ? and then moved upstream up to Northern Punjab. Such river navigation flourished for some time: in the years 1877-1878 the number of laden boats registered at certain river stations in Bengal was 401,729. (7) However, with the advent of the railroad (the first line by the East Indian Railway Company was laid in 1854 and more quickly followed) river transport decreased. The steamers that crowded the Ganges and the Indus almost vanished as communication by rail was faster and easier. However, on the Brahmaputra and the Barak, its tributary, and on the Irawadi, steamers were still in great demand. The steamer service along the rivers of Eastern Bengal also remained unaffected by the railway service provided by the Eastern Bengal Railway.
            Up to this day, waterways still play an important role especially in Bangladesh, of which about 7% of its surface is covered by a waterway network 24000 km long and about 66 % of the land is vulnerable to flooding. Steamships continue to be crucial in linking different parts of the country and transporting cargo. They now operate between Dhaka, Barisal and Khulna as well as the coastal area. (8).

III.2 Sri Lanka
            Although there are 103 river basins in Sri Lanka, many rivers are seasonal and therefore do not provide all-year access for transport. Of the 13 longest rivers in Sri Lanka, only 5 are perennial. (9) Sri Lankans up to the 19th century relied heavily on their wooden boats, which were made out of hollowed-out trees and topped with coconut palm roofs

IV. Beasts of Burden, Caravan Trade
            The first road on the Indian subcontinent dates back to 4000 BC, of the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. (10) In ancient India and Sri Lanka, bullock carts were the major means of transportation on land. Although records of well-made roads date back to the early Vedas Age, there is little evidence of them. Evidence of a more advanced road network with bridges and crossways in 5th Century BC exists. Around the 1st Century BC, the Silk Road came into being, passing through northern India to China and stimulating trade by camels and caravans. (11) The Kamboja-Dvaravati Route was one of the most important caravan routes linking India with nations in the northwest in ancient times and was a significant branch of the Silk Road. It dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization (3rd millennium BC) and continued to exercise its importance until the 1st millennium AD. Transport by caravan and beast are still used today, especially in remote regions of India and Sri Lanka. A pair of animals tied to a yoke drew the wooden carts. They are usually driven at night in order to escape the heat of the day. As kingdoms grew in Infis, the elite began to use more elaborate and sturdy horse chariots.
            Camels and elephants were the main beasts of burden in ancient India and are still widely used in the area today. In Sri Lanka, in addition to the elephant, the Asian buffalo was and is the most useful beast of burden. The buffalo is especially useful today in the rice paddies of Sri Lanka which are narrow and muddy and are not compatible with modern tractors. Yaks are known to be extremely durable at high altitudes and therefore have historically been used as pack animals in Nepal for trade and transport. (12)

V. Maritime Navigation

V.1 Island areas
            Sri Lanka, being an island country, relies heavily on its seaports for trade. Its location in the centre of the Indian Ocean and its many bays and ports also helped to make Sri Lanka a trade hub from early days. Before the 13th Century, Mahatittha ? opposite Mannar and facing the Arabian Sea ? was the most important port of Sri Lanka for trade, because of the importance of the Arabian Sea in the East-West exchange trade. Much of the trade between South India and Sri Lanka also happened through Mahatittha, and this continued until the 12th Century. However, after the seventh century, the centre of the East-West trade had moved to the Bay of Bengal, and therefore Gokanna, a port in north-east Sri Lanka, gained importance. After the 13th Century, changes in the location of the political centre and the development of western Sri Lanka influenced the popularity of the ports. Colombo earned its reputation as Sri Lanka¡¯s most important port from the 16th Century, when the Portuguese arrived. Subsequently the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the British, attempted to control Sri Lankan trade, and after the British gained supremacy over the entire island Sri Lanka became a market for western products while exporting mainly tea, rubber and coconut. Colombo, once an open roadstead, was expanded by transformation into an artificial harbour by constructing breakwaters.
            In the Maldives, transportation even within the country relies heavily on maritime transport. Up to this day, most inter-atoll transportation occurs through local sailing boats called batheli or odi. For inter-island transportation, slightly larger boats called dhonis are used. (13) Up to 2002, Maldives Shipping Ltd., a public enterprise, controlled a fleet of 14 vessels serving destinations all over the world.

V.2. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
            Indian maritime history dates as far back as 3000BCE, when the people of the Indus Valley Civilization carried out maritime trade with the Mesopotamians. At this time the world¡¯s first port was set up in India, Lothal at the Gulf of Khambhat in 2400BCE. (14) The Roman Empire¡¯s trade with India increased with its expansion into Egypt; during this time the major ports of India were Barbaricum, Barygaza, Muziris, Korkai, Kaveripattinam and Arikamedu, which were on the southern tip of the peninsula. There was also trade between Greece ? The Periplus Maris Ethraei (Circumnavigation of the Erythreans), presumed to be written by a Greek merchant, is written in 1st Century CE and lists Muziris, Colchi, Poduca and Sopatma as important centres of trade with India. It is also known that Pliny described the port of Muziris as "primum emporium Indiae". This trade was extended to China and Southeast Asia during the Chola dynasty (200-1279), and India acted as a important stop for Arabian and Persian merchants travelled through India to Southeast Asia for trade. (15) The most important ports during the Chola dynasty were Muziris, Poduca and Sopatma. (16) During the 14th to 16th Centuries, ports such as Cochin and Calicut were of prominence. With the development of the steamship for ocean travel in the 1820s made it much easier to use the Red Sea for trade: it increased British interest in maritime trade between Europe and India and therefore the British government in India actively promoted the development of ports around the Indian coast. The amount of cargo handled at major ports of India has doubled from 1995 to March 2009 (17). Today India has eleven major seaports, among them Bombay, New Mangalore, Calcutta-Haldia, Madras, Kamdla and Nhava Sheva.(18)
            Pakistan has two international ports, Karachi and Qasim. After independence, the shipping industry of Pakistan lagged behind due to nationalization and the absence of competition. The government then introduced a policy in the 1990s and 2000s to boost private investment in the shipping sector by giving a variety of incentives and is moving towards liberalization. (19) .
            The extensive water network of Bangladesh has made water transport the primary mode of transport in the country. Bangladesh has two deepwater ports, Chittagong for the east and Chalna for the west. The Ganges river delta allows Bangladesh to also have five main river ports, and more than 1500 smaller ports.

VI. Canal Construction
            Artificial water channels fall largely into two types: those confined to navigation and those primarily constructed for irrigation purposes. There are only a few that are confined to navigation in India: of the former class the most examples are to be found in the south of the Indian peninsula. The earliest canals were made in Bengal, in the neighbourhood of Calcutta. Also, the canals made for irrigation works have been constructed as to be available for navigation. For example, the canals made by the Madras Irrigation Company on the Tungabhadra were made available for navigation in 1879. At present, a program to join the Midnapur and Orissa canal systems and extending the canal southward into the Chika Lake as far as Ganjam: 400 miles from Calcutta. (20)
            In Pakistan most of the canals left over from the pre-independence era and the newly built canals are primarily for irrigation and not for transport. In Bangladesh, canals make up part of the extensive inland water system, and many canals intersect roads, like rivers do: and the people go across the canals using fragile bamboo bridges. The canals are most often travelled on by river barges, which are fragile and inefficient but widely used.
            In Sri Lanka, canals were mainly constructed by the Dutch and later British colonial forces. The Dutch established a canal network in the 18th Century, setting up dams and water cuts to form a network linking various cities and trade centres. Many canals were built to go through Colombo and its suburbs, linking the Kelani River to important regions in the North. Others in Galle and Matara were built for transport of goods such as cinnamon and timber. (21)

VII. Modern Roads & Cars
            The Indian road network experienced a boost of modernization and development at the end of 1840s. The viceroy at the time, Lord Dalhousie encouraged modernization and the development of capitalism in India. Larger roads that could accommodate more traffic were built, for example the great road from Calcutta to Peshawar. The new roads helped unite India closer together, especially the northern regions. (22) However, the popularity of the roads was short-lived as the railway was developed in the 1850s and took much of the freight and passenger traffic. The Grand Trunk Road which linked Calcutta to northwest Frontiem became almost obsolete for a while after the arrival of the railway (23). However, the roads which go over treacherous mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, the Western Ghats and Nilgiris are still irreplaceable and still utilized. The road network went through a boost in the 1980s when the number of motor vehicles in use more than doubled (from 1054000 in 1980 to 2736000 in 1990) (24). National Highways connect the major cities, ports and tourist centres. Although they constitute only 2% of the total network in length, they take up more than 40 % of the total road traffic. Of these about 200 km are Expressways which allow travel at speeds of 120 km per hour. The National Highway system is linked to the State Highways and the District Roads to create an intricate network. However, more than half of the entire Indian road network is unpaved: the rural roads are yet to be improved.
            Pakistan has a similar system, with National Highways and Motorways. The modern road system built on what British India had left behind. The National Highways began a burst of improvement during the 1990s when the Pakistani government began to rebuild all the national highways. The project is still ongoing, and showing success: although over half of the national highways network is still in poor condition, over the past ten years road traffic has grown faster than the national economy, and accounts for 91 % of the national passenger traffic and 96 % of freight. The development of the road network gained momentum with the opening of the motorways in the late 1990s. (25)
            The greatest obstacle that Bangladesh faced in developing its road network was its extensive river systems. Roads had to be fragmented by ferry crossings and meandered around rivers; maintenance and construction costs are high due to the difficult terrain caused by periodic flooding and soft land. National highways connect the national capital with district headquarters, port cities and international highways. Regional highways connect the headquarters of the 64 districts not connected by national highways. Other "feeder roads" and local roads connect the local regions and growth centres. (26) Despite the sluggish growth in development of the road system in the years after independence, Bangladesh's road system is showing considerable development in recent years. However, private car ownership remains extremely low.
            The Grand Trunk Road is the largest and most important road in South Asia. Dating from the Mauryan Empire, The Grand Trunk Road served as the main highway crossing northern India. Today the road is over 2500 km long, starting from Peshawar, Pakistan, passing through Delhi and Calcutta in India, and ending at Sonargaon in Bangladesh. The part of the Road that passes through India is part of the national highway system of India.
            Nepal¡¯s ratios of road mileage to area and to population are among the lowest. 43 % of the population has access to all-weather roads, because more than 60 % of the road network is concentrated in the lowlands. The growth rate of the road network was extremely slow: after a relative growth spurt of 6.7 % during the years 1995 and 1996, it has expanded by 2 % a year on average over the last decade, with a slightly faster growth until 2002. (27) The principal means of land transport still is by porters with pack animals. Such poor road conditions are the main obstacle to the country's economic development. The delivery of services and food to remote regions is also difficult for such reasons.
            In the Maldives, only a few islands are sufficient enough in size to support cars. There are some paved roads, especially in Mal?, the capital and the airport city Gan, but automobiles are very few in number and most people move around by bicycle or on foot.
            Sri Lanka¡¯s road network slowly developed on its largely rural system left behind by the British. In the beginning, the number of motor vehicles in use was extremely small ? in 1945 there were only 18000 passenger cars in Sri Lanka (28). From 1957 to 1978, the Ceylon Transport Board was put in charge of providing public passenger road transport: the roads were severely overcrowded and the Board was replaced by the Sri Lanka Transport Board and nine regional boards. Private road transport expanded rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, prompting road network expansion. In response, during the years of 1984 and 1989 the Sri Lankan government enacted a five-year road maintenance program, financed by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Japanese government.

VIII. Railroads

VIII.1 The influence of British Rule in India
            Lord Dalhousie was viceroy of British India. He had been closely connected with railway building in Britain and therefore was interested in introducing it to India. Although only a few miles of track were laid while he was viceroy, he laid the groundwork for the future railway expansion in India. The first working railway in India was completed in 1851. Then the first passenger railway, linking Bombay with Thana was opened in 1853. This was 32 km long. (29) Initially, it was feared that railways will not be popular India because of the caste difference and the Indians¡¯ reluctance to accepting new technology; however the railways turned out to be extremely popular even up to this day (30). The British government in India actively encouraged the expansion of railways by promoting a scheme which guaranteed annual returns of 5 % during the beginning years (the policy of guaranteed companies). This led to a quick expansion or railways ? within 4 years, the length of railway line open was 687 km. (31) However, the government gave up after it got itself into so much debt paying the guaranteed returns to incompetent companies. Over 5000 miles of track were laid during the 1860s, and the extensive network allowed the government to treat famines much more effectively. Before, bullock-carts had to carry grain into famished, remote regions, which were extremely ineffective as they had to carry their own food as well and travelled only a few miles a day. With the expansion of the railway, food could be brought to where it was needed quickly and efficiently. (32)
            Financial losses prompted the nationalization of the railway: in 1907 nearly all railways were owned by the government. During World War I, the railways were primarily used to serve the needs of the British outside India; for example the Khyber Pass Railway was built through the Khyber Pass, a passageway linking modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan which has been an important transport passage since the Mughul period (33). After the war the railways were widely spread, but in bad repair. The need for central management then prompted the government to manage the railways directly. The railways again suffered financial and physical loss during the Second World War, and by 1946 all railways were taken over by the government, by which time there were 65217 km of track laid out in India. (34)

VIII.2 Modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
            After independence and partition, the railway system in India was in need of repair and rerouting. The partition made it necessary to reconstruct railways to create a complete system within India. The Indian Railways was formed afterwards as a union of the 42 separate railway systems. The standardization of the gauge system and continued expansion resulted in India¡¯s railway system being the largest in Asia and the fifth largest in the world, and constitute the chief modes of transportation in India. By 1990, there was 65217 km of track laid down. (35) Also the first underground rail was finished in 1984 and currently there are underground rails in Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta and Delhi and shared underground-train rails in Hyderabad, Pune, and Lucknow.
            When Pakistan became independent, North Western Railways were divided between Pakistan and India, leaving 8124 km to Pakistan. Although there have been minor expansions in 1954 and 1956, and a conversion into broad gauge, the rail network in Pakistan was 8800 km long in 1998 (36) and still 8800 kilometres long today (37) Although the railway is a major freight and passenger carrier in Pakistan, it is heavily criticized because of the lack of expansion and modernization, and its bad maintenance. It only covers a portion of Pakistan ? regions such as Balochistan and the entire region of Fata are not covered by railway, evidenced by the low railway density in terms of land area (0.01 km per 1 sq km land) (38).
            Similar to Pakistan, Bangladesh inherited part of the British Indian railway system and developed upon that to construct its own national railway system. It received about 2603 km of railway from the Bengal and Assam Railway, which was then handed over from the Pakistani central government to the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) government. As can be seen from the 1999 figure of 2725 km in railway line (39), the Bangladesh railway network has not experienced much expansion: expansion and improvement of the railway is expensive because many bridges are needed to cover the extensive waterway network. Today, railways are not used extremely widely ? only 7 % of the national passenger and freight traffic - but still provide an important mode of transport for access to most regions of Bangladesh.

VIII.3 Sri Lanka
            Sri Lanka in the 1860s switched to tea production, and the boom in the plantation industry necessitated a better infrastructure system. (40) Therefore the first railway line was built from Colombo to the planting districts at Kandy. The railway system expanded tentatively but constantly up to the 1890s, from 119 km in 1871 to 309 km in 1890. (41) However the railway industry stagnated from then on due to irregular service, especially in the Northern and Eastern provinces. The number of passengers per kilometre decreased by 38 % from 1982 to 1988 (42). Since then the length of railway line has fluctuated, decreasing and increasing from 1929 to 1998 from 1530 km to 1500 km, and the national railway industry is suffering from deficits since independence. (43)

VIII.4 Little or No Railways
            The railway system of Nepal is almost nonexistent. There are only 59km of railway line in Nepal, most of which are railways of the Indian Railways that run on for a short while over the border into the Nepalese plains. However there are plans for some basic railways which were approved in October this year, including two tracks about 50km long and another 17km long. (44)
            Because the individual islands are too small and fragile to support railways, there are no railways in the Maldives.

IX. Air Transportation

IX.1 India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
            Air transportation is the most modern and the quickest mode of transport. Today airplanes help carry tourists and cargo quickly and efficiently to and from all parts of the world. Airplanes were first introduced in South Asia with modernization and were utilized increasingly during the Second World War. As these military operations developed into civil enterprises, they went through phases of nationalization because of the huge budget caused by rising fuel prices and high salary bills. Gradually, other private firms were allowed into the market to encourage competition and the national enterprises were part-privatized again to ensure better management.
            For example, the airline industry in India went through a period of nationalization. After J.R.D. Tata established the first Indian airline in 1932, by the time of independence there were eight airline companies (excluding Orient Airways, which shifted to Pakistan). Of these, Tata Airlines, with the Government of India, established Air India International Ltd. ? Indian Airlines, in 1953, and enjoyed a monopoly for quite some time. The government gave up its monopoly and sold some of its shares in 2006 and allowed private airlines to enter the domestic market. A new national airline Vayudoot was established and provides service to remote, otherwise inaccessible areas in the northeast. However, the international lines are still dominated by Indian Airlines.
            After Pakistan¡¯s independence, Orient Airways acted as a crucial connection between East and West Pakistan by serving flights from Karachi to Dhaka from 1954. In 1955 Pakistan merged Orient Airways (which was established in India before Pakistan became independent) with Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) to form Pakistan International Airlines, the national flag carrier of Pakistan. Currently the Government of Pakistan owns 87 % of PIA¡¯s shares and other shareholders own 13%. (45) As well as carrying passengers, PIA plays an important role as a cargo deliverer within Pakistan. PIA Cargo delivers goods such as meat, textiles, lab equipment and paper products both within and outside Pakistan.
            Aviation began in Bangladesh during World War II, when the British Raj built a military airstrip in Tejgaon. Nine other such airstrips were built during this period. The aviation infrastructure was severely damaged during the Liberation War (1971). Efforts to reconstruct the infrastructure were underway, such as the reconstruction of airports at Tejgaon (now Dhaka), Chittagong, Cox¡¯s Bazaar, Sylhet, Jessore and Ishurdi. As a result the Zia International Airport in Dhaka started operation in 1981, In Bangladesh, the government-owned Biman Bangladesh Airlines is the national flag carrier and serves international flights; it shares domestic services with some private companies, such as GMG Airlines and United Airlines. Recently, the airport at Chittagong ? the second greatest ? has undergone a major expansion with the assistance of the Japanese government.

IX.2 Island nations
            In island nations, air transportation is extremely important for both inland communication and trade. The only international airport in the Maldives for passenger traffic is situated in Male, the country¡¯s commercial and financial hub. It was completed in 1966 and consists of two islands that were joined to create a runway. International cargo transportation is handled by the airport at Gan, which is scheduled to become an international airport. There are three other domestic airports, which are served by various European airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air Lanka, and Indian Airlines. Air Maldives runs scheduled and chartered flights between islands. Also, the Maldivian Air Taxi is an air taxi service founded in 1993 which operates air taxi flights within the Maldives, a popular form of transport within the country.
            Similarly, Sri Lanka has only one international airport ? Bandaranaike International Airport, which was completed in 1986. Following Air Ceylon's demise in 1978, the Sri Lankan government set up Air Lanka (now changed to SriLankan Airlines) in 1979, which now is the nation's flag carrier and provides international service only. It was partially privatized following severe economic losses. Events such as the SARS outbreak, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the Civil War and ensuing political unrest in Sri Lanka and the terrorist attack on the Bandaranaike airport negatively impacted the airline. Upali Travels is the domestic airline. (46)

IX.3 Landlocked regions
            Nepal, a landlocked country, also relies heavily on air transport. Air transport makes many remote towns and villages in mountain ranges. Also, because Nepal is a mountainous country and thus difficult to travel long distances on land, airplanes are the preferred mode of transportation for most international travelers who are crucial in sustaining tourism, commerce and trade. The Tribhuvan International Airport is the only international airport, and there are 51 other domestic airports. Royal Nepal Airlines is the national flag bearer and reaches the most remote parts of the mountainous country. Many airlines also offer helicopter services for tourists or for easy access to remote places.

X. Conclusion
            The modes and degree of development of transportation of a country are decided largely by its geographical and environmental characteristics. The buffalo and elephant were used in Sri Lanka to work in the soggy fields; in India, camels and elephants were the principal beasts of burden as well as pack animals used to draw bullock carts; mountainous Nepal necessitated the taming of yaks for transport. Similarly, the road network was initially most extensive in the plains and sparse in the mountains, marshes or deserts. With modernization attempts to expand the transportation system through artificial means were made; canals created waterways where there were none; in India roads were built that went through the most arduous mountain ranges; an extensive railway network crisscrossed British India; Sri Lanka expanded its roadways and built a far-reaching railway system. Innovations in technology even made flying possible. Landlocked Nepal saw a way to trade with faraway parts of the world; air taxis became popular in the Maldives; East and West Pakistan before the separation were able to communicate and trade with each other by plane. However, in many areas of South Asia transportation is still primitive or underdeveloped. For these countries to develop economically and socially, advancements in transportation are crucial. An advanced transportation system allows faster communication, closer interaction and greater unity as a country. It allows the government to respond more efficiently to crises like famine. It stimulates trade and tourism. Therefore, a country must focus on the modes of transport that are favourable to its topography, and work on developing and expanding them to encompass the entire nation.


1.      Atlas of World Geography: Asia, Physical.
2.      Nations Encyclopaedia: Topography of Nepal.
3.      Atlas of World Geography: Asia, Physical.
4.      ibid.
5.      ibid.
6.      Nations Encyclopaedia: Transportation of India.
7.      1902 Encyclopaedia: India
8.      Banglapedia: Water Transport.
9.      MySriLanka: Sri Lankan Rivers.
10.      Banglapedia: Water Transport.
11.      MySriLanka: Sri Lankan Rivers.
12.      Ancient India Timeline
13.      14.      15.      16.      17.      18.      19.      20.      21.      22.      23.      24.      25.      26.      27.      28.      29.      30.      31.      32.      33.      34.      35.      36.      37.      38.      39.      40.      41.      42.      43.      44.      45.      46.     

(1) Atlas of World Geography: Asia, Physical. (2) Nations Encyclopaedia: Topography of Nepal. (3) Atlas of World Geography: Asia, Physical. (4) Ibid. (5) Ibid. (6) Nations Encyclopaedia: Transportation of India. (7) 1902 Encyclopaedia: India (8) Banglapedia: Water Transport. (9) MySriLanka: Sri Lankan Rivers. (10) Ancient India Timeline. (11) Wikipedia: The Silk Road (12) Nations Encyclopaedia: Transportation of Nepal. (13) Rao. 26, 27. (14) Wikipedia: Indian Maritime History. (15) Maritime History of India. (16) Mitchell 738. (17) Photius: India Maritime Economy. (18) The CIA World Factbook: Pakistan. (19) Lloyd 172. (20) Peebles 60. (21) Lloyd 177. (22) Wikipedia: Grand Trunk Road. (23) Mitchell 759. (24) Country Report on Pakistan (25) The CIA World Factbook: Nepal. (26) Mitchell 763. (27) Ibid. 683. (28) Lloyd 173. (29) Ibid. 172. (30) Ibid. 172. (31) Mitchell 683. (32) Lloyd 173. (33) Dale 53. (34) Wikipedia: Khyber Pass. (35) Mitchell 686. (36) Ibid. 687. (37) Ibid. 686. (38) Ibid. 678. (39) A History of Pakistan and its origins: Economy (40) Mitchell 686. (41) History of Sri Lanka: Colonialism (42) Mitchell 683. (43) Sri Lanka Transportation. (44) Mitchell 688. (45) World Bank: Facts and Statistics: Nepal (46) Howstuffworks: Sri Lanka. (47) History of Sri Lanka: Colonialism


Note: these sources were accessed in October, November and December 2009.

Primary Sources :
1.      McNally. 1997. Atlas of World Geography. p137.
2.      Image: River Transport, Ceylon. 26 Oct. 2009,
3.      Sri Lanka Tourism Center: transportation in Sri Lanka 28 Oct. 2009
4.      Holiday Nepal: Local Transportation. 28 Oct. 2009.
5.      Civil Aviation Authority Bangladesh ? Airports information. 28 Oct. 2009
6.      UNESCAP report on Bangladesh Transport 1996. 5 Nov. 2009
7.      International Historical Statistics; Africa, Asia & Oceania 1750-2000, Fourth Edition. B. R. Mitchell. London, 2003

Secondary Sources
Wikipedia: 8.      Lloyd, T.O. 1558-1995. The British Empire. pp. 172, 173, 177
9.      Article: The CIA World Factbook: Nepal. 1. Nov. 2009.
10.      Article: The CIA World Factbook: Pakistan. 1. Nov. 2009.
11.      Article: The CIA World Factbook: India. 1. Nov. 2009.
12.      Article: The CIA World Factbook:Bangladesh. 1. Nov. 2009.
13.      Article: Transportation, Macropaedia 28, The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1998.
14.      Ancient India Timeline, 31 Oct. 2009.
15.      Peebles, Patrick. 2006. The History of Sri Lanka. p.60.
16.      Richards, John F. 1999. The New Cambridge History of India ? The Mughal Empire.
17.      Article: Nations Encyclopaedia: Transportation in India. 28 Oct. 2009.
18.      Article: Nations Encyclopaedia: Transportation in Bangladesh. 28 Oct. 2009.
19.      Article: Nations Encyclopaedia: Transportation in Sri Lanka. 28 Oct. 2009.

20.      The Ancient Indus Civilization,
21.      Article: 1902 Encyclopaedia: India. : 28 Oct. 2009.
22.      Article: Nations Encyclopaedia: Transportation in Pakistan. 28 Oct. 2009.
23.      Discovery Bangladesh. 1 Nov. 2009.
24.      Bangladesh 2000.1 Nov. 2009.
25. 26 Oct. 2009.
26.      Country report on Pakistan. 6 Nov. 2009
27.      Country report on Bangladesh. 6 Nov. 2009
28.      Sri Lankan economy and transportation. 5. Nov. 2009
29.      Article: Nations Encyclopaedia: Topography of Pakistan. 26 Oct. 2009
30.      Business Portal of India: Infrastructure: India: National Maritime Transport. 26 Oct. 2009
31.      HowStuffWorks ? Geography of Sri Lanka. 26 Oct. 2009.
32.      Ports in Ancient Sri Lanka. 26 Oct. 2009.
33.      Explore: India. 26 Oct. 2009
34.      World Bank: Transport: Maldives Transport Center 28 Oct. 2009,,contentMDK:20674800~menuPK:868841~pagePK:34004173~piPK:34003707~theSitePK:579598,00.html
35.      Indian Ports & Maritime Economy. 28 Oct. 2009.
36.      Country Data: Maldives
37.      Asian Development Bank: Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project. 28 Oct. 2009
38.      Transport Corporation of India: Civil Aviation. 28 Oct. 2009.
39.      Indian Railways History. 28 Oct. 2009.
40.      World Bank: South Asia - Transportation. 30 Oct. 2009,,contentMDK:20697263~pagePK:34004173~piPK:34
41.      Article: Wikimedia: Pakistan Railways Network. 1 Nov. 2009
42.      India Net Zone ? Grand Trunk Road. 5 Nov. 2009
43.      Article: EoEarth. Water Profile of Sri Lanka. 13 Nov. 2009.
44.      Return To India: Indian Railways. 13 Nov. 2009.
45.      Article: Banglapedia. Steam Communication. 20 Nov. 2009.
46.      Article: Banglapedia. Water Transport. 20 Nov. 2009
47.      Category: Wikipedia. History of Transport in India. 20 Nov. 2009
48.      Article: Wikipedia. History of Rail Transport in India. 20 Nov. 2009.
49.      Article: Wikipedia. Grand Trunk Road.
50.      A Short History of British India Steam Navigation. 22 Nov. 2009.
51.      Article: Wikipedia. Indian maritime history. 22 Nov. 2009.
52.      Dale, Stephen Frederic. Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600-1750. pp. 53-55 22 Nov. 2009.
53.      Dutch Waterways in Sri Lanka
54.      Rao, S. R. ¡°Lothal¡±. Archaeological Survey of India.
55.      Sri Lanka¡¯s Rivers. 1 Dec. 2009.

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