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Arakan State

Rakhine State

Arakan Federal State
State
Myanma transcription(s)
 • Arakanese ra-khai-pray-ni
Flag of Rakhine State
Flag

Location of Rakhine State in Burma

Coordinates: 19°30′N 94°0′E / 19.500°N 94.000°E / 19.500; 94.000Coordinates: 19°30′N 94°0′E / 19.500°N 94.000°E / 19.500; 94.000

Country  Burma
Region West coastal
Capital Sittwe
Government
 • Chief Minister Hla Maung Tin[1] (USDP)
Area
 • Total 36,780 km2 (14,200 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 3,836,000
 • Density 100/km2 (270/sq mi)
Demographics
 • Ethnicities Rakhine, Chin,[2] Kaman,
 • Religions Theravada Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and others
Time zone MST (UTC+06:30)

Rakhine State (, Rakhine pronunciation [ɹəkʰàiɴ pɹènè]; Burmese pronunciation: [jəkʰàiɴ pjìnɛ̀]; formerly Arakan) is a state in Burma. Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State in the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region 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 Mountains, which rise to 3,063 metres (10,049 ft) at Victoria Peak, separate Rakhine State from central Burma. Off the coast of Rakhine State there are some fairly large islands such as Cheduba and Myingun Island. Rakhine State has an area of 36,762 square kilometres (14,194 sq mi) and its capital is Sittwe.[3]

Etymology

The term Rakhine is believed to have been derived from the Pali word Rakkhapura (Sanskrit Raksapura), meaning "Land of Ogres" (Rakshas), possibly a pejorative referring to the original Negrito inhabitants. The Pali word "Rakkhapura" ("Rakkhita") means "land of the people of Rakhasa" (also Rakkha, Rakhaing). They were given this name in honor of their preservation of their national heritage and ethics or morality. The word Rakhine means, "one who maintains his own race."[4] In the Rakhine language, the land is called Rakhinepray, the ethnic Rakhine are called Rakhinetha.

Arakan, used in British colonial times, is believed to be a Portuguese corruption of the word Rakhine that is still popularly used in English. Many English language users[note 1] eschew the name changes promulgated by the military government.

History

260px
Rakhine's ancient kingdoms are divided into four separate periods.
Silver coin of king Nitichandra, Arakan. Brahmi legend "NITI" in front, Shrivatasa symbol on the reverse. 8th century CE.
Main article: History of Rakhine

The history of the region of Arakan (now renamed Rakhine) State can be roughly divided into seven parts. The first four divisions and the periods are based on the location of the centre of power of the main independent Rakhine-dominated polities in the northern Rakhine region, especially along the Kaladan River. Thus, the history is divided into the Dhanyawadi, Waithali, Laymro and Mrauk U. Mrauk U was conquered by the Konbaung dynasty of Burma in 1784-85, after which Rakhine became part of the Konbaung kingdom of Burma. In 1824, the first Anglo-Burmese war erupted and in 1826, Rakhine (alongside Tanintharyi) was ceded to the British as reparation by the Burmese to the British. Rakhine thus became part of the province of Burma of British India. In 1948, Burma was given independence and Rakhine became part (colony) of the new federal republic.

Independent kingdom

Based on Rakhine oral histories and inscriptions in certain temples, the history of the Rakhine region date back nearly five thousand years. The Rakhine people trace their societal history back to as far as 3325 B.C.E. and have given a lineal succession of 227 native monarchs and princes down to the last ruler in 1784. They also describe their territory of including, in varying points of time, the regions of Ava, the Irrawaddy Delta, the port town of Thanlyin (Syriam) and parts of eastern Bengal. However, the expanse of the successive Rakhine kingdoms does not exactly corroborate with certain known historical documentation.

According to Rakhine legend, the first recorded kingdom rose centred around the northern town of Dhanyawadi in the 34th century B.C.E. and lasted til 327 C.E. Rakhine documents and inscriptions states that the famed Mahamuni Buddha image was cast in Dhanyawady in around 554 B.C.E., when the Buddha visited the kingdom. After the fall of Dhanyawadi in the 4th century C.E., the centre of power shifted to a new dynasty based in the town of Waithali. The Waithali kingdom ruled the regions of Rakhine from the middle of the 4th century to 818 C.E. The period is seen as the classical period of Rakhine culture, architecture and Buddhism, as the Waithali period left behind more archeological remains compared to its predecessor. A new dynasty emerged in four towns along the Laymro river as Waithali waned in influence, and ushered in the Lemro period, where four principal towns served as successive capitals.

The final kingdom of Mrauk U was founded in 1429 by Min Saw Mon. It is seen by the Rakhine people as the golden age of their history, as Mrauk U served as a commercially important port and base of power in the Bay of Bengal region and involved in extensive maritime trade with Arabia and Europe. The country steadily declined from the seventeenth century onwards after the loss of Chittagong to the Mughal Empire in 1666. Internal instability, rebellion and dethroning of kings were very common. The Portuguese, during the era of their greatness in Asia, gained a temporary establishment in Arakan.

Non-Arakanese rule

On 2 January 1785, the internally divided kingdom fell to invading forces from Konbaung Burma. The Mahamuni image was taken away by the Burmese as war loot. This caused an expansionist Burma to come into direct territorial contact with territories of the British East India Company, which set the stage for future flaring of tension. Various geopolitical issues gave rise to the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–26). As the image of Mahamuni was taken as war loot formerly by the Burmese, this time the huge bell of the temple was taken by the British Army and rewarded to a soldier, Bhim Singh, a Risaldar in East India Company's 2nd Division of the British, for his bravery, this inscribed huge bell is still installed in a Mandir at village Nadrai near Kasganj town in present day Kanshiram Nagar District of Utter Pradesh India. In the Treaty of Yandabo (1826), which ended hostilities, Burma was forced to cede Arakan alongside Tanintharyi (Tenasserim) to British India. The British made Akyab (now Sittwe) the capital of Arakan. Later, Arakan became part of the province of Burma of the British Indian Empire, and then part of British Burma when Burma was made into a separate crown colony. Arakan was administratively divided into three districts along traditional divisions during the Mrauk U period.

1940 onwards

Rakhine (Arakan) was the site of many battles during the Second World War, most notably the Arakan Campaign 1942-1943 and the Battle of Ramree Island. Arakan became part of the newly independent Union of Burma in 1948 and the three districts became Arakan Division. From the 1950s, there was a growing movement for secession and restoration of Arakan independence. In part to appease this sentiment, in 1974, the socialist government under General Ne Win constituted Rakhine State from Arakan Division giving at least nominal acknowledgment of the regional majority of the Rakhine people.

Demographics

Rakhine State, like many parts of Burma, has a diverse ethnic population. Official Burmese figures state Rakhine State's population as 3,183,330.[5] while population estimation (in lieu of lack of proper census since 1983) for 2010 placed the state's population at 3.83 million.

The ethnic Rakhine make up the majority.[6][7] The Rakhine reside mainly in the lowland valleys as well as Ramree and Manaung (Cheduba) islands. A number of other ethnic minorities like the Chin, Mro, Chakma, Khami, Dainet,Bengali Hindu and Maramagri inhabit mainly in the hill regions of the state. Most of the Tibeto-Burmans living in Rakhine State adhere to Theravada Buddhism. Even the Chin, who are usually related with Protestant Christianity or Animism, of Rakhine state adhere to Buddhism due to the cultural influence of the Rakhine people. Muslim constitute more than 96% of the population near the border with Bangladesh and the coastal areas, even though they are subject to a government rule limiting them to two children per family. According to various local surveys conducted after the riots of 2012, it was found that the Rohingya Muslims constituted about 40.75 % of the population of the state of Rakhine, making them the second largest ethnic group after the Rakhine people. [8]

Administration

Rakhine State consists of four districts, as below, showing areas and officially estimated populations in 2002:

  • Sittwe (12,504 km2; 1,099,568 people)
  • Maungdaw (3,538 km2; 763,844 people)
  • Kyaukphyu (9,984 km2; 458,244 people)
  • Thandwe (10,753 km2; 296,736 people)
  • Total Rakhine State: 36,778 km2; 2,915,000 people

Combined, these districts have a total of 17 townships[9] and 1,164 village-tracts. Sittwe is the capital of the state.

Transport

Few roads cross the Arakan Mountains from central Burma to Rakhine State. The three highways that do are the Ann to Munbra (Minbya in Burmese pronunciation) road in central Rakhine,[10] the Toungup to Pamtaung road in south central Rakhine,[10] and the Gwa to Ngathaingchaung road in far southern Rakhine.[10][11][12] Air travel still is the usual mode of travel from Rangoon and Mandalay 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).[13]

The airports in Rakhine State are

With Chinese investment, a deep sea port has been constructed in Kyaukphyu to facilitate the transport of natural gas and crude oil from the Indian Ocean to China without passing through Strait of Malacca.[14]

Rivers useful for transportation in Rakhine are

Economy

Rice is the main crop in the region, 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 suffer from chronic power shortages, in rural states like Rakhine the problem is disproportionately greater. 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.[15] In December 2009, the military government added three more hydropower plants, Saidin, Thahtay Chaung and Laymromyit, 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.[15]

Education

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.[16]

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.[17][18] 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 bad 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.[19]

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

See also

References

Notes

External links

  • Buddhist Missionary Society
  • Arakan Social Association Japan
  • Arakan Literature

Political Party of Arakan (ALD)

  • Arakan League For Democracy - Elected party in 1990

Rakhine independence-affiliated

  • Rakhapura
  • Arakan Internet Journal

Arakanese News/Information

  • Narinjara News (NN) - independent
  • Arakan Review (AR) - Non Profit Organization

Sittwe and Kyaukpyu SEZ routes to Ruili Yunnan

  • Taipei American Chamber of Commerce; Topics Magazine, Analysis, November 2012. Myanmar: Southeast Asia's Last Frontier for Investment, BY DAVID DUBYNE
  • Oilseedcrops.org; Editor Article, Transit routes from western China through Myanmar. Myanmar: the Missing Link from Western China to India’s N.E. States

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