Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Yangon(also known as Rangoon) is the largest city and a former capital of Myanmar. It is the capital of Yangon Division. Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial center.

Yangon's infrastructure is relatively undeveloped compared to those of other major cities in Southeast Asia. Yangon has the largest number of colonial buildings in Southeast Asia today. While many high-rise residential and commercial buildings have been constructed or renovated throughout downtown and Greater Yangon in the past two decades, most satellite towns that ring the city continue to be deeply impoverished.

Yangon is a combination of the two words yanand kounwhich mean "enemies" and "run out of" respectively. It is also translated as "End of Strife". "Rangoon" most likely comes from the British imitation of the pronunciation of "Yangon" in the Rakhine dialect of Burmese.


Yangon was founded as Dagon in the 6th century AD by the Mon, who dominated Lower Myanmar at that time. Dagon was a small fishing village centered about the Shwedagon Pagoda. In 1755, King Alaungpaya conquered Dagon, renamed it "Yangon", and added settlements around Dagon. The British captured Yangon during the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–26) but returned it to Burmese administration after the war. The city was destroyed by a fire in 1841.

[edit] Colonial Rangoon (1852–1948)

Layout of colonial Rangoon, late 19th century
A colonial building in downtown Yangon

The British Empire seized Yangon and all of Lower Myanmar in the Second Anglo-Burmese War of 1852, and subsequently transformed Yangon into the commercial and political hub of British Myanmar. Based on the design by army engineer Lt. Alexander Fraser, the British constructed a new city on a grid plan on delta land, bounded to the east by the Pazundaung Creek and to the south and west by the Yangon River. Yangon became the capital of all British Myanmar after the British had captured Upper Myanmar in the Third Anglo-Burmese War of 1885. By the 1890s Yangon's increasing population and commerce gave birth to prosperous residential suburbs to the north of Royal Lake (Kandawgyi) and Inya Lake.[5] The British also established hospitals including Rangoon General Hospital and colleges including Rangoon University.

Colonial Yangon, with its spacious parks and lakes and mix of modern buildings and traditional wooden architecture, was known as "the garden city of the East." By the early 20th century, Yangon had public services and infrastructure on par with London.

Before World War II, about 55% of Yangon's population of 500,000 was Indian or South Asian, and only about a third was Bamar (Myanmarn).[7] Karens, the Chinese, the Anglo-Burmese and others made up the rest.

After World War I, Yangon became the epicenter of Burmese independence movement, with leftist Rangoon University students leading the way. Three nationwide strikes against the British in 1920, 1936 and 1938 all began in Yangon. Yangon was under Japanese occupation (1942–45), and incurred heavy damage during World War II. Yangon became the capital of Union of Myanmar on 4 January 1948 when the country regained independence from the British.


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