Rakhine State: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 19°30′N 94°0′E / 19.5°N 94°E / 19.5; 94

Rakhine State (Arakan Federal State)

(MLCTS: rahkuing pranynai)

Capital Sittwe (Akyab)
Region West coastal
Area 36,780 km²
Population 2,744,000 (2000)
Ethnicities Rakhine, Rohingya, Chin, Mro,Bangali people
Religions Theravada Buddhism,

Rakhine State (Burmese: ရခိုင်ပြည်နယ်; formerly Arakan) is a state of Burma. Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State in the north, Magway Division, Bago Division and Ayeyarwady Division in the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest. It is located approximately between latitudes 17°30' north and 21°30' north and east longitudes 92°10' east and 94°50' east. The Arakan Yoma mountain range, which rises to 3,063 m at Victoria Peak, separates Rakhine State from Burma Proper. Its area is 36,762 km² and its capital is Sittwe.

The estimated population in 2000 was 2.7 million of which the ethnic Arakanese or Rakhine make up the slight majority. The Rohingya make up approximately 25% of the state's population (about 723,000 in 2009)[1] but are not counted as citizens by the military government.



Rakhapura is universally known as Rakhine or Arakan but it is still called Rakhaingpray by its own people, the Rakhaingthas (the Arakanese).


The term Rakhine (pronounced Ra Khaing) is believed to have derived from the Pali word Rakkhapura (Sanskrit Raksapura), meaning “Land of Ogres”, possibly a pejorative referring to the original Negrito inhabitants. Another possibility is from the Pali word "Rakkhapura" > "Rakkhita" meaning the land of the people of Rakhasa (Rakhasa > Rakkha > Rakkhaing > Rakhaing) who were titled this name in honor of preservation on their national heritage and ethics or morality.


Arakan, used in British colonial times, is believed to be a Portuguese corruption of the word Rakhine and still popularly used in English as a gesture of political opposition to the current government. Arakan was vaguely known to the Romans as Argyre (Pliny the Elder, Ptolemy) or Khruse (Periplus of the Erythraean Sea), which they only knew as being vaguely somewhere near India.


Ethnographers classify up to 11 ethnic groups (not including ethnic sub-groups) as native to Rakhine State. The Rakhine (Arakanese) live in valleys, Rambye (Ramree) and Manaung (Cheduba) islands. The Chin inhabit the mountain regions of the north. The Mro, Bangali Chakma tribal people(Chakma), Khami, Dainet, and Maramagri live on mountain ranges in the west and north. A 2009 United Nations estimate puts the Rohingya population in Myanmar to be about 723,000, most of which are confined in northern districts of Rakhine.[1]

Administrative divisions

Rakhine State (Arakan State) consists of four districts: Sittwe, Maungdaw, Kyaukphyu and Thandwe. Combined, these districts have a total of 17 townships[2] and 1,164 village-tracts.


Separated by the Arakan Yoma mountain range, Rakhine State is essentially cut off from the mainland. Air travel still is the most popular mode of transport to Sittwe and Ngapali, the popular beach resort. Only in 1996 was a highway from Sittwe to the mainland constructed. The state still does not have a rail line (although Myanmar Railways has announced a 480-km rail extension to Sittwe from Pathein via Ponnagyun-Kyauttaw-Mrauk U-Minbya-Ann).[3]


Rakhine State receives much rain, so rice is the main crop, occupying around 85% of the total agricultural land. Coconut and nipa palm plantations are also important. Fishing is a major industry, with most of the catch transported to Yangon, but some is also exported. Wood products such as timber, bamboo and fuel wood are extracted from the mountains. Small amounts of inferior-grade crude oil are produced from primitive, shallow, hand-dug wells, but there is yet unexplored potential for petroleum and natural gas production.

Tourism is slowly being developed. The ruins of the ancient royal town Mrauk U and the beach resorts of Ngapali are the major attractions for foreign visitors, but facilities are still primitive, and the transportation infrastructure is still rudimentary.

While most places in Myanmar suffers from chronic power shortages, in rural states like Rakhine the problem is disproportionately more so. In 2009, the electricity consumption of a state of 3 million people was only 30 MW, or 1.8% of the country's total generation capacity.[4] In December 2009, the military government added three more hydropower plants, Saidin, Thahtay Chaung and Laymyomyit, at a cost of over US$800 million. The three plants together can produce 687 MW but the surplus electricity will be distributed to other states and divisions.[4]


Educational opportunities in Myanmar are extremely limited outside the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay. The following is a summary of the public school system in the state in academic year 2002-2003.[5]

AY 2002-2003 Primary Middle High
Schools 2515 136 49
Teachers 8600 2100 700
Students 264,000 76,000 25,000

Sittwe University is the main university in the state.

Health care

The general state of health care in Myanmar is poor. The military government spends anywhere from 0.5% to 3% of the country's GDP on health care, consistently ranking among the lowest in the world.[6][7] Although health care is nominally free, in reality, patients have to pay for medicine and treatment, even in public clinics and hospitals. Public hospitals lack many of the basic facilities and equipment. In general, the health care infrastructure outside of Yangon and Mandalay is extremely poor but is especially worse in remote areas like Rakhine State. The entire Rakhine State has fewer hospital beds than the Yangon General Hospital. The following is a summary of the public health care system in the state.[8]

2002-2003 # Hospitals # Beds
Specialist hospitals 0 0
General hospitals with specialist services 1 200
General hospitals 16 553
Health clinics 24 384
Total 41 1137


This article is part of
the History of Burma series
Early history of Burma
Pyu city-states (c. 100 BC–c. 840 AD)
Mon kingdoms (9th–11th, 13th–16th, 18th c.)
Bagan Dynasty (849–1287, 1st Empire)
Ava (1364–1555)
Pegu (1287–1539, 1747–1757)
Mrauk U (1434–1784)
Taungoo Dynasty (1486–1752, 2nd Empire)
Konbaung Dynasty (1752–1885, 3rd Empire)
Wars with Britain (1824–1826, 1852, 1885)
British Arakan (1824–1852)
British Tenasserim (1824–1852)
British Lower Burma (1852–1886)
British Upper Burma (1885–1886)
British rule in Burma (1824–1942, 1945–1948)
Nationalist movement in Burma (after 1886)
Ba Maw
Aung San
Japanese occupation of Burma (1942–1945)
Democratic period (1948–1962)
U Nu
U Thant
1st military rule (1962–1988)
Ne Win
8888 Uprising (1988)
Aung San Suu Kyi
2nd military rule (1989–present)
Saffron Revolution (2007)
Cyclone Nargis (2008)
[edit this box]
Rakhine's ancient kingdoms are divided into four separate periods.

Past dynasties included Danyawady, Vesali, Laemro and Mrauk-U. The golden days of Mrauk-U in 16th and 17th centuries were contemporary to the days of Tudor kings and the Moguls from India, the Ayudya kings of Thailand and Ava, Taungoo and Hanthawaddy kings of Burma. Arakan has an over 5000-years old language and rich culture.[citation needed]

The natives of Arakan trace their history as far back as 3325 B.C., and give a lineal succession of 227 native princes down to modern times. According to them, their empire had at one period far wider limits, and extended over Ava, part of China, and a portion of Bengal. This extension of their empire is not, however, corroborated by known facts in history. According to recorded history, a kingdom called Dhanyawadi arose in the Arakan region between the 34th century BC to 4th Century AD. The famous Mahamuni Buddha (located in Mandalay) was cast in Dhanyawady in around 554 B.C.

The kingdom of Waithali (Rakhine: Wai-tha-li) was the successor to Dhanyawady from the 4th century AD.

Arakan reached the zenith of its power in the Bay of Bengal during the Waithali (Vesali), Lemro and Mrauk U periods, but the country steadily declined from the seventeenth century onwards. Chittagong, which was part of Arakan, was invaded and occupied by the Mughal Empire in 1666. Internal instability and dethroning of kings was very common. The Portuguese, during the era of their greatness in Asia, gained a temporary establishment in Arakan; but on December 28 1784 the province was finally conquered by the Burmese.

The famous Mahamuni Buddha image was taken as a war trophy by Crown Prince Shwedaung, son of King Bodawpaya and conqueror of Arakan in 1784, to his capital of Amarapura. (The image was relocated to Mandalay by King Mindon in 1853 when he relocated the capital to Mandalay). The Burmese, after conquering Arakan, came directly into contact with British interests in east India. Burmese seizures of Arakan's neighbouring states of Assam and Manipur and the assault on Shinmaphyu Isle, which was a British outpost in Bengal, were the instigating causes of the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824 to 26). Under the Treaty of Yandabo (1826), Burma ceded Arakan and Tenasserim to British India. Arakan was thus one of the first Burmese territories to be ceded to the British. The British made Akyab capital of Arakan, and retained the traditional divisions of the country into the districts of Akyab, Kyaukpyu and Sandoway (Ramree) with a district officer in charge of each.

With independence and the formation of the Union of Burma in 1948, the three districts became Arakan Division, on equal footing with the majority Burmese administrative divisions.

From the 1950s, there was a growing movement for secession and restoration of Rakhine independence. In part to appease this sentiment, in 1974, the Burmese government of Ne Win constituted Rakhine State from Arakan Division giving at least nominal acknowledgment of the majority Rakhine ethnic group, the Arakanese nationalities.

See also


This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

External links

Rakhine independence-affiliated

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Mrauk U, the old capital of Rakhine
Mrauk U, the old capital of Rakhine

Rakhine State (Arakan State) is in Myanmar.

  • Sittwe (Akyab) - the capital

Get in

The simplest way to get to the Rakhine region is to fly from Yangon to Sittwe. As with all domestic flight schedules these can be erratic so try to give yourself some extra time on either end for connections.

Get around

Renting a private boat and guide to get up the Kaladan River to Mrauk U and points further is not too expensive and makes for a very interesting trip. Note that as of Fall 2008 boats can not leave after about 11am due to possible dangers on the river if you get stuck there with a breakdown after sunset, so you may need to overnight in Sittwe after you fly in before you can head up river.

Stay safe

There is some concern about being on the Kaladan River after sunset, purportedly due to danger of being robbed.

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