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The Capital Of Myanmar Is Six Times The Size Of New York But Virtually Empty

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The Capital Of Myanmar Is Six Times The Size Of New York But Virtually Empty

Welcome to Naypyidaw, Myanmar. To give you an idea of its size, New York is 468 sq. miles in area, Greater London is 607 sq. miles, yet the Myanmar capital registers a whopping 2,723.71 sq. miles.

Yet it remains virtually empty.

It has a registered population of only one million (one-eighth that of London); so that, coupled with its vast size, leaves the place feeling like a ghost town.

What's stranger though, is that Naypyidaw is Myanmar's (formerly Burma) capital.

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Little over 10 years ago, the then Burmese government decided to up sticks and move from Yangon to Naypyidaw - increasingly an odd decision when nobody had really heard of it.

The country, which has one of the strictest military regimes on the planet, is similar to North Korea in that democracy isn't standing a chance.

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Since the regime decided to move to the new capital, it has effectively been out of bounds to westerners, which seems daft when it cost billions to build.

It was designed to house millions of people, but the whole metropolis is practically vacant. On the average day, only a few government workers can be seen in the city.

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Built in the middle of a jungle, Naypyidaw doesn't experience much trouble, despite being in an unsettled part of the country, as there are so few people there.

The Guardian visited it earlier in the year and described it as 'an eerie picture of post-apocalypse suburban America'.

The whole place has Wi-Fi (as a positive) even if restaurants, shops and hotels lie empty with hardly any customers.

The streets, 12-lanes-wide at times, are designed for huge quantities of traffic, are reportedly lucky to see more than two cars on the same stretch.

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The government structures may be magnificent but sadly, hardly anyone can view them.

Like any controlled state, information is hard to come by, so how the city was built, or why, is hardly known. In fact, there are rumours that the country employed North Korean technicians to build an underground network of tunnels across the city.

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Traveller, 'A Social Nomad', equally noted the emptiness of the place. They wrote: "Naypyidaw station is HUGE. It's like an airport. Massive. Acres of tiled floors. Column supported ceilings and no one here.

"The city is huge," they continue. "It's split into zones. And all the zone are miles from each other, there's no public transport."

After paying just $31 for a half-day taxi they said they had seen most of the city, albeit just a 'drive-by'.

How weird. How very weird. Although they did offer insight into why the capital was shifted.

"The rumour said that the General's personal astrologer warned him of a potential invasion by seas, so he moved the capital," they add.

"Government employees were given two days to move from Yangon, but had to leave their families behind. The vast majority of foreign embassies remain in Yangon, with only Bangladesh having moved to the International Zone in the new city."

Featured Image Credit: Twitter

Michael Minay
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