PEGU, a town and former capital of Lower Burma, giving its name to a district and a division. The town is situated on a river of the same name, 47 m. N.E. of Rangoon by rail; pop. (1901), 14,132. It is still surrounded by the old walls, about 40 ft. wide, on which have been built the residences of the British officials. The most conspicuous object is the Shwemaw-daw pagoda, 324 ft. high, considerably larger and even more holy than the Shwe-dagon pagoda at Rangoon. Pegu is said to have been founded in 573, as the first capital of the Takings; but it was as the capital of the Toungoo dynasty that it became known to Europeans in the 16th century. About the middle of the 18th century it was destroyed by Alompra; but it rose again, and was important enough to be the scene of fighting in both the first and second Burmese Wars. It gave its name to the province (including Rangoon) which was annexed by the British in 1852.
The district, which was formed in 1883, consists of an alluvial tract between the Pegu Yoma range and the Sittang river: area, 4276 sq. m.; pop. (1901), 339,572, showing an increase of 43% in the decade. Christians numbered nearly 9000, mostly Karens. Almost the only crop grown is rice, which is exported in large quantities to Rangoon. The district is traversed by the railway, and also crossed by the Pegu-Sittang canal, navigable for 85 m., with locks.
The division of Pegu comprises the five districts of Rangoon city, Hanthawaddy, Tharrawaddy, Pegu and Prome, lying east of the Irrawaddy: area 13,084 sq. m.; pop. (1901), 1,820,638.
Pegu has also given its name to the Pegu Yoma, a range of hills running north and south for about 200 m., between the Irrawaddy and Sittang rivers. The height nowhere exceeds 2000 ft. but the slopes are steep and rugged. The forests yield teak and other valuable timber. The Pegu river, which rises in this range, falls into the Rangoon river just below Rangoon city, after a course of about 180 m.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)