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Rakhine State

Rakhine State


Arakan State
Myanma transcription(s)
 • Arakanesera-khai-pray-nay
Flag of Rakhine State
Official seal of Rakhine State
Location of Rakhine State in Myanmar (Burma)
Location of Rakhine State in Myanmar (Burma)
Coordinates: 19°30′N 94°0′E / 19.500°N 94.000°E / 19.500; 94.000
Country Myanmar
RegionWest coastal
 • Chief MinisterNyi Pu (NLD)
 • CabinetRakhine State Government
 • LegislatureRakhine State Hluttaw
 • High CourtRakhine State High Court
 • Total36,778.0 km2 (14,200.1 sq mi)
Area rank8th
 • Total3,188,807[1]
 • Rank8th
 • EthnicitiesRakhine, Rohingya, Kaman, Mro, Khami and others
 • ReligionsTheravada Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and others
Time zoneUTC+06:30 (MMT)
HDI (2017)0.520[2]
low · 13th

Rakhine State (/rəˈkn/; Burmese: ရခိုင်ပြည်နယ်; MLCTS: ra.hkuing pranynay, Rakhine pronunciation [ɹəkʰàiɴ pɹènè]; Burmese pronunciation: [jəkʰàiɴ pjìnɛ̀]; formerly Arakan) is a state in Myanmar (Burma). Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State to the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region to 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 longitudes 92°10' east and 94°50' east. The Arakan Mountains, rising 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]


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[4] Australoid inhabitants. The Pali word "Rakkhapura" ("Rakkhita") means "land of the people of Rakhasa" (also Rakkha, Rakhaing). They were given this name in honour of their preservation of their national heritage and ethics or morality.[5] The word Rakhine means, "one who maintains his own race".[6] In the Rakhine language, the land is called Rakhinepray, the ethnic Rakhine are called Rakhinetha.

The term 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.


Silver coin of king Nitichandra, Arakan. Brahmi legend "NITI" in front, Shrivatasa symbol on the reverse. 8th century CE.

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 dates back nearly five thousand years.[citation needed] The Rakhine people trace their societal history back to as far as 3325 BCE and have given a lineal succession of 227 native monarchs and princes[7] down to the last ruler in 1784. They also describe their territory as 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.[citation needed]

According to Rakhine legend, the first recorded kingdom, centred around the northern town of Dhanyawadi, arose in the 34th century BCE and lasted until 327 CE. Rakhine documents and inscriptions state that the famed Mahamuni Buddha image was cast in Dhanyawady in around 554 BCE when the Buddha visited the kingdom. After the fall of Dhanyawadi in the 4th century CE, 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 CE. The period is seen as the classical period of Rakhine culture, architecture and Buddhism, as the Waithali period left behind more archaeological remains than 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] The country steadily declined from the 17th 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 Arakans.[7][8][9][10]

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. Thus, an expansionist Burma came into direct territorial contact with territories of the British East India Company, which set the stage for future flaring of hostility. Various geopolitical issues gave rise to the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–26). As the image of Mahamuni had been taken as war loot by the Burmese, this time the huge bell of the temple was taken by the British Army and awarded to a soldier, Bhim Singh, a Risaldar in British 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 Uttar 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 and inclusion in Myanmar

Rakhine (Arakan) was the site of many battles during the Second World War, most notably the Arakan Campaign 1942–43 and the Battle of Ramree Island. In 1948, Arakan became part of the newly independent Union of Burma (later renamed as Myanmar) 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.

2010 onwards (after 2008 constitution)

Since 2010, Rakhine state has had two chief ministers: Hla Maung Tin and Major General Maung Maung Ohn. Hla Maung Tin ( January 2011 – 20 June 2014) was an elected Rakhine State Hluttaw member representing USDP from Ann Township in 2010 general election. He resigned from the post after recurrent intense inter-communal conflicts between Muslims and Rakhine ethnic groups in 2012–14.[11] In 2014, he was replaced by Major General Maung Maung Ohn (30 June 2014 – present). Ohn was Deputy Minister for Border Affairs and head of the Rakhine State's Emergency Coordination Center before he was named to become a military-appointed Rakhine State Hluttaw member by Election Commission on 21 June 2014. His appointment as Chief Minister was formalised on 30 June 2014 although Arakan National Party opposed it.[12]

2012 Rakhine State riots

The 2012 Rakhine State riots were a series of conflicts between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhines who are majority in the Rakhine State. Before the riots, there were widespread and strongly held fears circulating among Buddhist Rakhines (who were a large majority) that they would soon become a minority in their ancestral state.[13] The riots finally came after weeks of sectarian disputes including the death of ten Burmese Muslims by Rakhines and murder of a Rakhine by Rohingyas.[14][15] From both sides, whole villages were "decimated".[15][16] According to the Burmese authorities, the violence, between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, left 78 people dead, 87 injured, and up to 140,000 people have been displaced.[17][18] The government has responded by imposing curfews and by deploying troops in the region. On 10 June 2012, a state of emergency was declared in Rakhine, allowing the military to participate in the administration of the region.[19][20] Rohingya NGOs overseas have accused the Burmese army and police of targeting Rohingya Muslims through arrests and participating in violence.[17][21] However, an in-depth research conducted by the International Crisis Group shows that both communities are grateful for the protection provided by the military.[22] A number of monks' organisations have taken measures to block aid from NGOs that help Rohingyas.[23] In July 2012, the Burmese Government did not include the Rohingya minority group in the census—classified as stateless Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh since 1982.[24] About 140,000 Rohingya in Burma remain confined in IDP camps.[25]

2016–2018 northern Rakhine State clashes


Historical population
1973 1,712,838—    
1983 2,045,559+19.4%
2014 3,188,807+55.9%
Source: 2014 Myanmar Census[1]

Rakhine State (formerly known as Arakan Province), like many parts of Burma, has a diverse ethnic population. Official Burmese figures state Rakhine State's population as 3,118,963.[26]

The Rakhine reside mainly in the lowland valleys as well as Ramree and Manaung (Cheduba) islands. A number of other ethnic minorities like the Thet, Kamein, Chin, Mro, Chakma, Khami, Dainet, Bengali Hindu and Maramagri inhabit mainly in the hill regions of the state.


Religion in Rakhine State (2015)[27]

  Buddhism (58.32%)
  Islam (40.18%)
  Christianity (0.4%)
  Hinduism (0.5%)
  Tribal religion (0.1%)
  Others (0.0%)

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. Muslims constitute more than 80–96% of the population near the border with Bangladesh and the coastal areas.

Administrative divisions

Map of the Rakhine State

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

  • Sittwe (12,504 km2; 1,099,568 people)
  • Mrauk-U (recently created out of Sittwe District)
  • 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[28] and 1,164 village-tracts. Sittwe is the capital of the state.






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,[29] the Toungup to Pamtaung road in south central Rakhine,[29] and the Gwa to Ngathaingchaung road in far southern Rakhine.[29][30][31] Air travel still is the usual mode of travel from Yangon 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).[32]

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.[33]

Rivers useful for transportation in Rakhine are


Rakhine is one of the poorest states in Myanmar .[34] Over 69% of the population live in poverty.[35]

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 have chronic power shortages, in rural states like Rakhine the problem is greater. In 2009, the electricity consumption of a state of 3 million people was 30 MW, or 1.8% of the country's total generation capacity.[36] 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.[36]


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 2013–2014.[37]

AY 2013–2014 Primary Middle High
Schools 2,515 137 69
Teachers 11,045 2,909 1,337
Students 370,431 100,566 26,671

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.[38][39] 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.[40]

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 1,137

See also


  1. ^ a b Census Report. The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census. 2. Naypyitaw: Ministry of Immigration and Population. May 2015. p. 17.
  2. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  3. ^ "Rakhine State Map" (PDF). Retrieved 31 July 2015.[dead link]
  4. ^ Ashraf Alam, Mohamed (20 June 2007). "The etymology of Arakan, Rohingya and Rakhine". []. External link in |website= (help)
  5. ^ KHANT MIN, AUNG (2016). "The Golden Land The Rakhine State". Archived from the original on 2017-01-14. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  6. ^ MIN, AUNG KHANT (2016). "The Golden Land The Rakhine State". Archived from the original on 2017-01-14. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Arakan". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 315.
  8. ^ Arthur P. Phayre (1841). Account of Arakan. p. 688.
  9. ^ Sanjay Subrahmanyam (30 April 2012). The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 1500-1700: A Political and Economic History. John Wiley & Sons. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-470-67291-4.
  10. ^ Donald F. Lach; Edwin J. Van Kley (15 June 1993). Asia in the Making of Europe: A Century of Advance : Book 1 : Trade, Missions, Literature. University of Chicago Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-226-46753-5.
  11. ^ [1] Archived 21 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ [2] Archived 26 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Crisis Group 2014, p. 14.
  14. ^ "Four killed as Rohingya Muslims riot in Myanmar: government". Reuters. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  15. ^ a b Lauras, Didier (15 September 2012). "Myanmar stung by global censure over unrest". Agence France-Presse in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  16. ^ "One year on: Displacement in Rakhine state, Myanmar". UNHCR. 7 June 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  17. ^ a b Hindstorm, Hanna (28 June 2012). "Burmese authorities targeting Rohingyas, UK parliament told". Democratic Voice of Burma. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  18. ^ "UN refugee agency redeploys staff to address humanitarian needs in Myanmar". UN News. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  19. ^ Linn Htet (11 June 2012). "အေရးေပၚအေျခအေန ေၾကညာခ်က္ ႏုိင္ငံေရးသမားမ်ား ေထာက္ခံ". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  20. ^ Keane, Fergal (11 June 2012). "Old tensions bubble in Burma". BBC News. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  21. ^ "UN focuses on Myanmar amid Muslim plight". Press TV. 13 July 2012. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  22. ^ "Myanmar's Military: Back to the Barracks?" (PDF). The International Crisis Group. 22 April 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  23. ^ Hindstorm, Hanna (25 July 2012). "Burma's monks call for Muslim community to be shunned". The Independent. London. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  24. ^ "Rohingyas are not citizens: Myanmar minister". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 1 August 2012.
  25. ^ "US Holocaust Museum highlights plight of Myanmar's downtrodden Rohingya Muslims". Associated Press. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  26. ^ Summary of the Provisional Results (PDF). Ministry of Immigration and Population. August 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2014.
  27. ^ Department of Population Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population MYANMAR (July 2016). The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census Census Report Volume 2-C. Department of Population Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population MYANMAR. pp. 12–15.
  28. ^ "Myanmar States/Divisions & Townships Overview Map" Archived 3 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU)
  29. ^ a b c "Map of Rakhine State" Myanmar's Net
  30. ^ Köllner, Helmut and Bruns, Axel (1998) Myanmar (Burma): an up-to-date travel guide Nelles Verlag, Munich, Germany, p. 224, ISBN 3-88618-415-3
  31. ^ "Minister inspects roads and bridges in Rakhine State" Archived 7 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine. The New Light of Myanmar 12 June 2001. Retrieved 1 November 2010
  32. ^ "Myanmar to construct first railroad to link western state". Xinhua News. 19 February 2009.
  33. ^ [3] Archived 14 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ "The flow of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh shows no sign of abating". The Economist. 19 October 2017.
  35. ^ "Aung San Suu Kyi's ideas about curbing attacks on Rohingyas won't work". The Economist. 14 September 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  36. ^ a b "Myanmar Adds More Hydropower Plants in Western State". Xinhua News. 7 December 2009.
  37. ^ "United Nations Statistic Department for data for Myanmar". Education Statistical Year Book, 2013_2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  38. ^ "PPI: Almost Half of All World Health Spending is in the United States". 17 January 2007. Archived from the original on 5 February 2008.
  39. ^ Yasmin Anwar (28 June 2007). "Burma junta faulted for rampant diseases". UC Berkeley News. Archived from 06.28.2007 the original Check |url= value (help) on 2 July 2012.
  40. ^ "Hospitals and Dispensaries by State and Division". Myanmar Central Statistical Organization. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  1. ^ For example, see Staff (2009) "An Introduction To The Toponymy Of Burma" Archived 31 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine. The Permanent Committee of Geographic Names (PCGN), United Kingdom

Further reading

External links

Political Party of Arakan (ALD)

Rakhine independence-affiliated

Arakanese News/Information

Sittwe and Kyaukpyu SEZ routes to Ruili Yunnan