Yangon , the former capital city and commercial city , is the main gateway to Myanmar. It was founded by King Alaungpaya when he conquered lower Myanmar in 1755. He built a new city on the site of a mall settlement called Dagon and renamed it as Yangon , which means “ End of Strife “. Yangon had itself only been the capital of Myanmar since 1885. When the British conquered northern Myanmar , the seat of government moved from Mandalay ( the last Myanmar Kingdom ) to Yangon. As the British had long held the city as a main trading port , a wonderful array of colonial buildings-many of which are now crumbling can be seen in Yangon. The biggest concentration of them is on the riverfront Strand Road , around the bottom of Pansodan Street and Sule Pagoda Road. After getting independence of Myanmar in 1948 , many colonial names of streets and parks changed to more nationalistic Burmese names. In 1959 , the current military junta changed the city’s English name “ Rangoon” to “ Yangon “ , along with many other changes in English transliteration of Burmese names.
Yangon had expanded outwards since independence. Successive governments have built satellite town such as Thaketa , North Okkalapa and South Okkalapa in the 1950s to Hlaingthaya , Shwepyitha and South Dagon in the 1980s. The present day Yangon covers an area of 600 square kilometers with a population of over 7 millions. Yangon is the most ethnically diverse city in the country. While Indians formed the slight majority prior to Second World War , today the majority of the population is of indigenous Bamar descent. Large communities of Indians , Chinese , Burmese exist in the traditional downtown neighborhoods. A large number of Rakhine and Karen also live in the city. The Shwedagon Pagoda is the most famous landmark of Yangon. A visit to the union of Myanmar is not complete without visiting the 2500-years-old Shwedagon Pagoda as it is a repository of the best in Myanmar heritage- architecture , sculpture and arts.