Kachin State is the northernmost state of Myanmar. It is bordered by China to the north ( Tibet ) and east (Yunnan), Shan State to the south; and Sagaing Region and India to the west. It lies between north latitude 23° 27′ and 28° 25′ longitude 96° 0′ and 98° 44′. The area of Kachin State is 89,041 km2 (34,379 sq mi). The capital of the state is Myitkyina. Other significant towns include Bhamo, Mohnyin, Hopin, and Putao.
The magnificent Indawgyi Lake in Mohnyin Township, Kachin State, is the third-largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and the biggest natural lake in Myanmar. It is highly predominated with significant natural, biological, and geological heritage. Indawgyi Lake is unique and rich in biodiversity, beautiful landscape and sceneries, traditional culture and historic religious sites, and various mineral resources. It lies between 25°5′N and 25°20′North latitude and 96°18′ and 96°25′East longitude and is a fine stretch of water measuring about 16 miles by 7 miles at its widest part. The Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary enjoys about 546 feet above the sea level.
Traditional Kachin society was based on shifting hill agriculture. According to “The Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure”, written by E. R. Leach, Kachin was not a linguistic category. Political authority was based on chieftains who depended on support from immediate kinsmen. Considerable attention has been given by anthropologists of the Kachin custom of maternal cousin marriage, wherein it is permissible for a man to marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, but not with the father’s sister’s daughter. In pre-colonial times, the Kachin were animists.
The vast mountainous hinterlands are predominantly Kachin, whereas the more densely populated railway corridor and southern valleys are mostly Shan and Barmar. Before the British rule, roughly 75% of all Kachin jadeite ended up in China, where it was prized much more highly than the local Chinese nephrite. Kachin troops formerly formed a significant part of the Burmese army. With the unilateral abrogation of the Union of Burma constitution by the Ne Win regime in 1962, Kachin forces withdrew and formed the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).
Kachin State is served by the three airports Bhamo Airport, Myitkyina Airport, and Putao Airport. There is a railroad between Myitkyina and Mandalay via Sagaing. The train will take 21–30 hours from Mandalay to Myitkyina. Indawgyi Lake can be reached by train from Myitkyina via Hopin and it will take about 5 hours for 107 miles. Again, from Hopin to Lonton Village at Indawgyi Lake by private taxi or by motorbike and it will take 2 hours for 27 miles. The daily train and bus services are available from Yangon or Mandalay to Indawgyi Lake via Hopin the nearest town. Lonton has been upgraded as a new township of Mohnyin District recently.
The majority of the state’s inhabitants are ethnic Kachin. The Kachin group has six tribes or subdivisions: Jinghpaw, Lisu, Rawang, Lachid, Zaiwa, and Lhaovo. The word “Jinghpo Wunpong,” which means “Strong and United Human Beings”, also represents the six Kachin tribes. The region is also home to a number of Shan and a small number of Tibetans. There are 11 village tracts and 33 villages around Indawgyi Lake. The major ethnic groups living in the area are Shan and Kachin, who are mainly are farmers.
According to the 2014 Myanmar Census, the population of Kachin State is about 1,689, 441. Christianity is one of the main religions for the Kachin people in Kachin State. Buddhism is the major religion among Burmese and Shan in Kachin State. The Jingpho language was the traditional language of the area and the Barmar people were a minority in Kachin State before the independence of Burma from the British, but after 1948, groups of Burmese came to Kachin State to settle down so that office could be run with the Burmese language. Some Kachin tribes speak and write their own language: the Zaiwa, the Rawang, and the Lisu, who speaks both the Lisu language and the Lipo language.
The economy of Kachin State is predominantly agricultural. The main products include rice, teak, sugar cane, opium. Mineral products include gold and jade. Hpakan is a well-known place for its jade mines. Over 600 tons of jade stones were exploited from the Lone-Khin area in Hpakan Township in Kachin State. Most of the jade stones extracted in Myanmar, 25,795 tons in 2009–10 and 32,921 tons in 2008–09, are from Kachin State. The largest jade stone in the world, 3000 tons, 21 meters long, 4.8 meters wide, and 10.5 meters high was found in Hpakan in 2000. There occurred frequently mine accidents and pollution in the jade mine area.