Countries that have a capital city with a weird name – Myanmar

Myanmar is the second largest country in South East Asia, but it may perhaps be better known as Burma to many people.

The country has been getting headlines in the media recently because its military dictatorship has begun to allow some form of civilian government after releasing its last democratically-elected civilian leader, and Nobel Peace Prize winner,  Aung San Suu Kyi from long house arrest.

The country is known for its mighty rivers which spring directly from the Himalayas, the Irrawaddy being one of them, and for its fertile lands.  The country also has a rich Buddhist history, which is probably best represented by the town of Bagan which has around about ten thousand temples and pagodas rising from the ground.

The new capital of Myanmar is a city called Nay Pyi Daw which was begun in 2005 and is still under construction.

Nay Pyi Daw is a Burmese word meaning “royal city” or something similar such as “city of kings”, and it has been built 300 kilometres inland from the countries former capital of Yangon, which was also called Rangoon.

Nay Pyi Daw is more centrally and strategically located than the old capital Yangon. The official explanation for moving the capital was that Yangon had become too congested and crowded with little room for future expansion of government offices.    

The residential areas are carefully organized, and apartments are allotted according to rank and marital status. High ranking government officials live in mansions, of which there are about 50. Many of the city’s residents, however, live in slums.

As with many largely ceremonial capitals Nay Pyi Daw has a practically  useless 20-lane boulevard, but like most roads in the city, it is largely empty.

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