Rangoon (Yangon) Division


Rangoon (Yangon) Division
   One of Burma's 14 states and divisions, it has an area of 10,171 square kilometers (3,927 square miles), making it the smallest of Burma's regional jurisdictions, and an estimated population in 2000 of 5.56 million (1983 census figure: 3,965,916). The divisional capital is Rangoon (Yangon), which is Burma's largest city and until 2005 was the national capital. Rangoon Division comprises four districts (East, West, South, and North Rangoon [Yangon]) and 45 townships, of which 34 are currently located within the capital's city limits. The topography is level, formed by alluvial deposits from the region's many rivers and creeks, although Singuttara (Theingottara) Hill, where the Shwe Dagon Pagoda is located, is the southernmost extension of the Pegu (Bago) Yoma. Rangoon Division is Burma's most densely populated, with an average of 525 persons per square kilometer (1,360 persons per square mile); the population is most concentrated in Rangoon's Pabedan Township, located in the old Central Business District, with 77,220 persons per square kilometer (200,000 persons per square mile). However, the division also includes the remote and thinly populated Cocos Islands, in the Andaman Sea, which have functioned as a naval base and a place of exile for (political) prisoners. Apart from Rangoon, major towns in the division are Htaukkyant (site of a large British Commonwealth war cemetery), Hlegu, Hmawbi, Syriam (Thanlyin), Kyauktan, and Twante.
   Although agriculture is not unimportant to Rangoon Division's economy (despite the post-1988 creation of new towns, which have incorporated crop lands), it is Burma's most urbanized region and contains the country's major industrial, mercantile, and financial enterprises, including industrial estates established with foreign investment in Rangoon city's outlying areas, such as Mingaladon Township. Most of Burma's major universities, including the University of Rangoon (Yangon), Dagon University, and Rangoon (Yangon) Institute of Technology, are located there, as well as central government ministries and the headquarters of the Tatmadaw. It has one of only two international airports in the country (the other is at Mandalay) and is the main sea and air gateway to the outside world.
   Rangoon Division has an ethnically diverse population. Aside from a Burman (Bamar) majority, there are significant communities of Karens (Kayins), especially in Insein Township, Mons, Arakanese (Rakhines), Shans, and Burmese citizens of Chinese and Indian ancestry, as well as the country's largest concentration of expatriates, including Chinese, Indians, Westerners, Japanese, and persons from countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Rangoon Division's urban environments are diverse. Newly modernized downtown areas resemble Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, with their high-rise hotels and condominiums, and middleclass areas, such as Bahan Township, have many large houses. But many of the new towns resemble impoverished rural villages, while adjacent suburbs contain affluent "gated communities" that resemble those of Southern California. Although ethnic segregation seems to be breaking down, Karen and Indian Muslim communities still maintain a large measure of coherence and identity. Since 1988, large areas in Rangoon Division have been allocated by the government for new Buddhist monasteries, schools, and pagodas.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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