Yangon

Yangon (yăn-gŏnˈ) [key], formerly Rangoon răng-gōnˈ, city (1983 pop. 2,458,712), former capital of Myanmar and capital of Yangon region, S central Myanmar, on the Yangon River (a mouth of the Ayeyarwady) near its entrance into the Gulf of Martaban. The largest city in Myanmar, Yangon is the transportation hub of the country and its commercial and industrial center. Major exports include rice, teak, petroleum, cotton, and metal ores; there are rice mills, sawmills, oil refineries, and steel, iron, and copper mills.

Probably founded in the 6th cent., it was until the 18th cent. a small fishing village, dominated—as is the modern city—by the most celebrated temple in Myanmar, the golden-spired Shwedagon Pagoda. Alaungapaya, the founder of the last line of Burmese kings, made the town his capital in 1753. Under his rule Yangon was given its present name ("Rangoon" is a less accurate transliteration) and was built up as the chief port of Myanmar. It was held briefly by the British in 1824–26; after it came under British rule in 1852, it was transformed into a modern city. Yangon was heavily damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in 1930, and again in World War II. In 2005 the government announced that it was relocating the capital to what became Naypyidaw, in S central Myanmar, and began transferring government offices there; much of the transfer was completed by 2006. The Yangon Univ. was founded in 1920 as Rangoon Univ. and reorganized in 1948 and again in 1964, when it became the Rangoon Arts and Science Univ.; it was renamed in 1989.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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