Nay Pyi Taw
Clockwise from top: Uppatasanti Pagoda, Water Fountain Garden, Ministry Zone, Gems Museum, Union Parliament
|Division||Naypyidaw Union Territory|
|• Chairman||Myo Aung (Mayor)|
|• Total||7,054.37 km2 (2,723.71 sq mi)|
|Elevation||115 m (377 ft)|
|• Density||131.1/km2 (339.5/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+06:30 (MMT)|
Naypyidaw, officially spelled Nay Pyi Taw (Burmese: နေပြည်တော်; MLCTS: Nepranytau; pronounced [nèpjìdɔ̀]), is the capital and third-largest city of Myanmar. The city is located at the center of the Naypyidaw Union Territory. It is unusual among Myanmar's cities, as it is an entirely planned city outside of any state or region. Similar planned cities include Canberra in Australia, Brasília in Brazil, Washington, D.C. in the United States, Islamabad in Pakistan, and Abuja in Nigeria. The city officially replaced Yangon as the administrative capital of Myanmar in 2006.
As the seat of the government of Myanmar, Naypyidaw is the site of the Union Parliament, the Supreme Court, the Presidential Palace, the official residences of the Cabinet of Myanmar and the headquarters of government ministries and military. Naypyidaw is notable for its unusual combination of large size and very low population density. The city hosted the 24th and 25th ASEAN Summit, the 3rd BIMSTEC Summit, the Ninth East Asia Summit, and the 2013 Southeast Asian Games.
Naypyidaw is Burmese for "abode of the king", and is generally translated as "royal capital", "seat of the king", or "abode of kings". Traditionally, it was used as a suffix to the names of royal capitals, such as Mandalay, which was called Yattanarbon Naypyidaw (ရတနာပုံနေပြည်တော်).
Naypyidaw has a short history. It was founded on a greenfield site near Pyinmana, about 320 kilometres (200 mi) north of the old capital, Yangon. Construction started in 2002 and was completed by 2012. At least 25 construction companies were hired by the military government to build the city, including Asia World and Htoo Ltd.
On 6 November 2006, more than 12,000 troops marched in the new capital in its first public event: a massive military parade to mark Armed Forces Day—which is the anniversary of then Burma's 1945 revolution against the Japanese occupation of Burma. Filming was restricted to the concrete parade ground which contains three enormous sculptures—depictions of King Anawrahta, Bayinnaung and Alaungpaya, who are considered the three greatest monarchs in the history of Myanmar. The city was officially named Naypyidaw during these ceremonies, and the official, albeit mostly administrative, capital of the country was relocated from Yangon to Naypyidaw.
Rationale behind moving the capital
There are several assumptions why the capital was moved: Naypyidaw is more centrally located than the old capital, Yangon. It is also a transportation hub located adjacent to the Shan, Kayah, and Kayin states. It was felt by governmental and military leaders that a stronger military and governmental presence nearby might provide stability to those chronically turbulent regions. Climate consideration could have also contributed to the capital transfer, since Yangon proved vulnerable to Cyclone Nargis, which killed over 100,000 people in Myanmar in May 2008. 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. Another reason might be that during World War II, Pyinmana township, close to the new capital, was the headquarters of Gen Aung San, the Father of the Nation of modern-day Myanmar.
Geography and climate
Chaungmagyi Dam is located a few kilometers to the north of Naypyidaw, while Ngalaik Dam is a few kilometers to the south. The Yezin Dam is farther away in the north-east.
|Climate data for Naypyidaw|
|Average high °C (°F)||30
|Average low °C (°F)||14
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||5
|Average precipitation days||1||0||1||3||14||21||23||24||19||12||4||1||123|
|Source: Weather2Travel.com. Retrieved 26 March 2013|
Naypyidaw is organized into a number of zones.
The residential areas are carefully organised, and apartments are allotted according to rank and marital status. The city has 1,200 four-story apartment blocks. The roofs of apartment buildings are color-coded by the jobs of their residents; Ministry of Health employees live in buildings with blue roofs and Ministry of Agriculture employees live in those with green roofs. High-ranking government officials live in mansions, of which there are about 50. However, in 2019, quite a few of the ministerial mansions were reported to be unused and left in a neglected state in overgrown compounds.
The city's Ministry zone contains the headquarters of Myanmar's government ministries. All the ministry buildings are identical in appearance. A parliamentary complex consisting of 31 buildings and a 100-room presidential palace are also located there. The zone also contains the city hall building, which has many characteristics of Stalinist architecture, but with a Burmese-style roof.
High-ranking military officers and other key officials live 11 km (6.8 mi) away from regular government employees in a complex said to consist of tunnels and bunkers; this area is restricted to the public. The city also hosts a military base, which is inaccessible to citizens or other personnel without written permission.
The government has set aside 2 hectares (4.9 acres) of land each for foreign embassies and headquarters of United Nations missions. The Chinese embassy has formally opened its interim liaison office in 2017. The liaison office is the first foreign office to be permitted to open in Naypyidaw. Bangladesh and Malaysia have also signed agreements to open embassies in Naypyidaw. The government confirms that proposals have been put forward by 11 other countries to move their embassies to Naypyidaw, namely Russia, China, the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey and Kuwait. In February 2018, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Naypyidaw where she urged foreign governments to move their embassies to the capital.
The Hotel zone has a handful of villa-style hotels on the hilly outskirts of the city. There are twelve hotels located in or near Naypyidaw. Eight of these are located within the Naypyidaw Hotel Zone, and two are located in Laeway (Lewe) on the Yangon-Mandalay Road. Forty villas were constructed near the Myanmar Convention Centre in preparation for the 25th ASEAN summit conducted in Naypyidaw in November 2014. Construction of the villas was begun in 2010 by the government. However, funds were limited, so the project was later put out to tender for completion by private sector investors. A total of 348 hotels and 442 inns were constructed to house the athletes and spectators of the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, which was hosted in Naypyidaw.
Naypyidaw Myoma Market is the commercial centre of Naypyidaw. Other shopping areas include Thapye Chaung Market and Junction Centre Naypyidaw. Junction Centre is the city's first privately operated shopping centre. There are also local markets and a restaurant area.
Ngalaik Lake Gardens is a small water park situated along the Ngalaik Dam, near Kyweshin Village on Ngalaik Lake (about 11 kilometres (7 mi) from Naypyidaw). Opened in 2008, facilities at the Ngalaik Lake Gardens include water slides, natural resorts, lodging and a beach. The gardens are open to the public during Thingyan holidays.
Also opened in 2008, the 81-hectare (200-acre) National Herbal Park has exhibits of plants having medicinal applications from all of the major regions of Myanmar. There are thousands of plants at the park, representing hundreds of different species. Behind the city hall, there is a park with a playground and water fountain complex, which hosts a musical light show every night.
The Naypyidaw Zoological Gardens opened in 2008 with 420 species and now with 1500 animals. The main attraction of the zoo is the climate-controlled penguin house. The animals were shipped to it from the old one in Yangon. The Naypyidaw Safari Park officially opened on 12 February 2011.
Naypyidaw also has two golf courses (Naypyidaw City Golf Course and Yaypyar Golf Course) and a gem museum.
Similar in size and shape to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Uppatasanti Pagoda was completed in 2009. This new pagoda is named the Uppatasanti or "Peace Pagoda". The stake-driving ceremony for the pagoda was held on 12 November 2006. The invitation card for the ceremony opened with a phrase "Rajahtani Naypyidaw (the royal capital where the king resides)". The pagoda is just 30 cm (12 in) shorter than the Shwedagon Pagoda. Uppatasanti translates roughly to "Protection against Calamity". It is the name of a sūtra prepared by a monk in the early 16th century. It is to be recited in time of crisis, especially in the face of foreign invasion.
Naypyidaw is administered by the Naypyidaw Union Territory which is under the direct administration of the President. Day-to-day functions are carried out on the President's behalf by the Naypyidaw Council led by a Chairperson. The Chairperson and members of the Naypyidaw Council are appointed by the President and include both civilians and Armed Forces representatives.
Naypyidaw Development Committee (NPTDC) is the administrative body of the capital. Naypyidaw Development Committee (NPTDC) consists of 5 to 9 members, it is led by a Chairman who acts as the Mayor, and a Vice-Chairman who acts as the Vice-Mayor.
The Naypyidaw Union Territory consists of the city proper (downtown) and eight surrounding townships. Downtown is further divided into four wards. Pyinmana, Lewe, and Tatkone townships were all formerly part of Yamethin District. Ottarathiri, Dekkhinathiri, Popphathiri, Zabuthiri, and Zeyathiri are all new townships under construction. As of December 2009, most government ministry offices have been relocated to the administrative capital. Only the offices of ministries' directorates remain in Yangon.
- City proper (Wards)
- Pre-existing townships
- New Townships
- Ottarathiri Township (ဥတ္တရသီရိ မြို့နယ်, from Pali uttarasiri)
- Dekkhinathiri Township (ဒက္ခိဏသီရိ မြို့နယ်, from Pali dakkhiṇasiri)
- Pobbathiri Township (ပုဗ္ဗသီရိ မြို့နယ်, from Pali pupphasiri)
- Zabuthiri Township (ဇမ္ဗူသီရိ မြို့နယ်, from Pali jambusiri)
- Zeyarthiri Township (ဇေယျာသီရိ မြို့နယ်, from Pali jayasiri)
There is sometimes some controversy about land use and changes in land ownership related to the urban spread of Naypyidaw. In late 2014, for example, there were suggestions in parliament that land grabs were occurring near the Dekkhinathiri Township and that existing laws needed to be amended to provide better protection for farmers. There has also been criticism from some members of parliament about the size of the Naypyidaw Union Territory and the fact that money is being spent on urban infrastructure (such as lighting around lakes) although the facilities do not attract much use.
Naypyidaw International Airport, also known as Ayelar Airport, is 16 km (10 mi) south-east of the city, between the towns of Ela and Lewe. It is served by all domestic airlines—Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Myanmar National Airlines, FMI Air and Yangon Airways—with regular flights to Yangon and other cities across the country. According to the Transport Ministry, the airport has a 3.6 kilometer runway, a control tower 69 meters high and 10 passenger boarding bridges and can take 50,000 to 65,000 flights annually. Bangkok Airways and China Eastern Airlines serve the airport with international flights to and from Bangkok and Kunming.
Buses and taxis
Public transport services are limited between neighborhoods. The four-lane, 323.2 km (200.8 mi) Yangon-Naypyidaw highway links Naypyidaw with Yangon directly and is part of the 563 km (350 mi) long Yangon-Naypyidaw-Mandalay Expressway. There is a 20-lane boulevard; like most roads in the city, it is largely empty. Naypyidaw has four-lane roads and multilevel, flower-covered roundabouts (traffic circles). Government ministries run shuttle buses in the morning and evening to their respective buildings.
The city has a central bus station and one taxi company, which is operated by the military. Motorbikes are banned from some roads in Naypyidaw city limits, including sections of Taw Win Yadana Road, as a result of hundreds of traffic accident-related deaths in 2009.
Naypyidaw railway station was opened at milepost No. (233/0), between Ywataw station and Kyihtaunggan station on the Yangon-Mandalay railroad with a station area of 2,700 m × 1,200 m (9,000 ft × 4,000 ft) and a covered area of 334.5 hectares (826.5 acres). Construction began on 8 December 2006 and Naypyidaw railway station was opened on 5 July 2009, even though the overpass, locomotive shed, concrete road leading up to the station, parking lot, passenger lounge and platform were not completed.
Before the opening of Naypyidaw railway station, Naypyidaw was served by Pyinmana and Lewe stations, though only Pyinmana station is on the main rail line (which extends from Yangon-Bago-Naypyidaw-Thazi-Mandalay). Lewe station is on the way from Pyinmana to Kyaukpadaung. It takes nine hours by train to get from Yangon to Pyinmana; trains leave at 12:00 and arrive at 21:30 local time.
In August 2011, Russian news media announced that a Russian-based firm would be constructing a 50-kilometre (31 mi) metro line, which would be the country's first underground rail system, underneath Naypyidaw. However, the Rail Transportation Ministry then announced that the plan had been cancelled due to lack of demand and budgetary limits.
Education and research
- No. 1 Basic Education High School
- No. 2 Basic Education High School
- No. 3 Basic Education High School
Yezin (a few kilometers north-east of Naypyidaw and Pyinmana)
- Forest Research Institute (FRI), Yezin[circular reference]
- Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), Yezin[circular reference]
- Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute (SABRI)
The city is served by five public hospitals: 1000-bed Naypyidaw General Hospital, Naypyidaw Women Hospital, Naypyidaw ENT Hospital, 100-bedded Naypyidaw Traditional Medicine Hospital, and Naypyidaw Orthopaedic Hospital.[self-published source?] There is also a 300-bed Obstetric, Gynaecological and Children's Hospital of Defence Services, which is one of the teaching hospitals of Myanmar Defence Services Medical Academy. The nearby towns of Lewe, Pyinmana, and Tatkone each have one hospital.
- Uppatasanti Pagoda
- Maha Thetkya Yanthi Buddha
- Thatta Thattaha Maha Bawdi Pagoda (replica of Buddha Gaya)
Museums and memorials
- Memorial to the Fallen Heroes
- National Museum
- Defence Services Museum
- Naypyidaw Gems Museum
- The Museum of Sport
- Naypyidaw Safari Park
- National Herbal Park
- Naypyidaw Zoological Gardens
- Naypyidaw Water Fountain Garden
- National Landmark Garden
- Naypyidaw Hot Spring Resort
- Wunna Theikdi Stadium
- Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium
- Zayarthiri Stadium
Concert halls and theatres
- Myanmar International Convention Centre 1 (MICC-1)
- Myanmar International Convention Centre 2 (MICC-2)
- Open-Air Theatre
Arts and entertainment
The Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards are held annually in Naypyidaw given to the highest achievers in Burmese cinema. There is a movie theater in the Junction Centre Mall as well as in the Ocean Shopping Mall. There are two others in nearby Pyinmana, and one in Tatkone Township.
Media and communications
The headquarter of the Ministry of Information is located in Naypyidaw. Since 2009, Naypyidaw has had mobile phone coverage.
The Myanmar Alin and the Kyaymon in Burmese and the New Light of Myanmar in English are available in Naypyidaw. Since 18 November 2011, the Ministry of Information has begun publishing a weekly journal called the Naypyidaw Times, to report on government policies.
There are a number of AM and FM stations broadcasting in Naypyidaw. The main available channels in Naypyidaw are Radio Myanmar (operated by MRTV), Cherry FM, Mandalay FM, FM Bagan, Padamyar FM, Pyinsawaddy FM, Shwe FM and City FM.
MRTV, MRTV-4 and MWD are the main channels, broadcasting Burmese-language programmes in Naypyidaw. Privately owned enterprise Sky Net provides more than 70 pay-TV channels of local and international origin. MRTV broadcasts 19 free-to-air channels and MWD broadcasts 8 free-to-air channels. Other TV channels such as Channel 7, 5-plus and Myanmar International, the English-language channel that targets overseas audiences are also available.
The establishment of Naypyidaw was an extraordinary project. However, the shorter-term and long-term consequences of establishing the new capital are not yet clear.
Data on the economic impact of constructing Naypyidaw are scarce but the national economic impact of the huge construction effort must have been very considerable. One estimate puts the cost in the range of $3–4 billion although only part of this estimate is for cash spending because non-cash investments were also reportedly involved in supporting the construction effort. There must have been a large localized construction boom, the result of which is that a vast new economic asset has been created. On the other hand, utilization (mid 2014) of the vast new asset is very low. Most of the remarkable main roads in the city (10 lane roadways are common) are ghost roads for much of the time. There are also large areas of vacant land between many buildings.
One of the consequences of administration for the nation is that there is now continual travel by vehicles along the relatively new 300 km highway from Yangon to Naypyidaw. But the highway is four lanes for most of the way. There is clearly a large amount of excess capacity because there are relatively few vehicles for much of the time on the road. Most trucks traveling North from Yangon to Naypyidaw and Mandalay are prohibited from using the highway. The Asian Development Bank has estimated that allowing more trucks onto the road would save over $100 million per year in reduced traveling time and other savings. Remarkably, there are plans to turn the road into a six lane highway because it is believed that a wider road would be safer to travel on.
It has not been easy to encourage expatriates from the diplomatic and international business community in Yangon to relocate to Naypyidaw. The capital is seen as lacking facilities such as international health care, residential housing, and convenient transport arrangements. Despite the generous areas of land in Naypyidaw, the proportion of housing that meets expatriate needs is limited because the majority of existing apartments are for government employees.
Naypyidaw in popular culture
In March 2014, Naypyidaw was one of the locations featured on the British motoring TV show Top Gear during a two-part special event in Myanmar.
Sometime in 2018, in the TV show Dark Tourist, David visits the capital, Naypyidaw.
- တိုင်းခုနစ်တိုင်းကို တိုင်းဒေသကြီးများအဖြစ် လည်းကောင်း၊ ကိုယ်ပိုင်အုပ်ချုပ်ခွင့်ရ တိုင်းနှင့် ကိုယ်ပိုင်အုပ်ချုပ်ခွင့်ရ ဒေသများ ရုံးစိုက်ရာ မြို့များကို လည်းကောင်း ပြည်ထောင်စုနယ်မြေတွင် ခရိုင်နှင့်မြို့နယ်များကို လည်းကောင်း သတ်မှတ်ကြေညာ. Weekly Eleven News (in Burmese). 20 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
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- An estimated construction cost of $US 4 billion is also given in Insight Guides, Myanmar (Burma), London, APA publications, 2014, p. 198. This guide book describes Naypyidaw (p. 198) as "a sprawling, soulless white-elephant city of empty 8-lane highways and giant concrete buildings".
- For a brief description by a well-known international observer of the situation in late 2012, see Francis Fukuyama, 'What Myanmar Needs', The American Interest, 6 September 2012.
- Thomas Manch and Kyaw Lin Htoon, 'The road rules costing Myanmar billions', Frontier Myanmar, 14 December 2017.
- Construction on some sections of a six-lane highway are already underway (mid 2014) along the highway. Parts of the highway have already been widened to six lanes, and a number of bridges along the road are in the construction stage of being widened. For a discussion of safety concerns about the national highways to Naypyidaw, see the report about plans to improve the highway linking Naypyidaw and Mandalay at Kyaw Hsu Mon, 'Govt Calls for Foreign Investment in 'Death Highway' Upgrade', The Irrawaddy, 29 December 2014.
- Kyaw Soe Htet, 'More time needed before expatriates consider relocating to Nay Pti Daw', Myanmar Times, 8 October 2019.