Eye on Asia

Yangon: A city profile

This article provides an overview of Yangon for those keen on exploring the possibility of living and working there. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.

The Karaweik Palace, located on the eastern shore of Kandawgyi Lake. Picture source: Pixabay

Key facts

Land area: 598.75 sq km¹

Population (2014): 7.361 million²

Mayor: U Maung Maung Soe³

National language:

Currency: Kyat⁴

 

Introduction

Yangon (formerly Rangoon), is Myanmar’s largest city and and former seat of government. Apart from serving as the country’s financial centre, Yangon is also a trade and logistics hub. It is home to the country’s main air and sea ports, and is connected by road and rail networks. It comprises 44 townships and is located at the convergence of the Yangon and Bago Rivers. It is bordered by Bago Region to the north and east, the Gulf of Mottama to the south and Ayeyarwady Region to the west.⁵

 

Demographic profile

Yangon’s population reached 7.361 million in 2014, which is 14.3 percent of the total population of Myanmar (51.486 million). The population of Yangon has grown about 85 percent from the 3.966 million recorded in 1983. The urban population made up 70 percent of the total population. The city has an adult literacy rate of 96.6 percent.⁶

 

Economic profile

Between 2012/2013 to 2016/2017, Yangon’s GDP grew at an average of 9.2 percent per annum. In 2016/2017, its GDP achieved USD$10.7 billion, with an annual growth rate of 8.5 percent. Yangon’s GDP accounts for about 23 percent of Myanmar’s GDP.⁷ In 2018, foreign enterprises accounted for 59 percent of the enterprises in Yangon. Seventy-six percent of these foreign enterprises were in the manufacturing sector.⁸

 

The New Yangon City

The New Yangon City seeks to address the challenges faced by the city due to the rise in population, urban infrastructure and to provide an opportunity for economic development. The vision of the project by the government-owned New Yangon Development Co (NYDC) is “Productive City, Liveable City” – a city that will be the country’s economic engine, while ensuring an inclusive, green and highly liveable experience for its residence. The first phase of the project involved developing 20,000 acres of land to the west of central Yangon into an urban industrial district. The first phase will comprise five village townships, two bridges, 26 kilometres of artery roads, 10 square kilometres of industrial estate, a power plant, transmission and distribution facilities, and a water and wastewater treatment plant. The project hopes to create two million jobs.⁹

 

Thilawa Special Economic Zone

The Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is the first and one of the three SEZs in Myanmar. The SEZ is located 25 kilometres south of Yangon, along the Yangon River. Its target industries include light industries and manufacturing of consumer goods. Zone A of Thilawa SEZ was opened on 23 September 2015.¹⁰ Zone B is under construction. As of January 2019, the Thilawa SEZ has attracted a total of 103 investors from 18 countries, with a majority involved in manufacturing.¹¹

 

Tourism

Yangon is often the first point of entry for most international visitors. In 2017, the city received almost 1.15 million tourist arrivals. Dubbed “The Garden City of the East”, the city is a melting pot with a diversity of cultures and religions. There are many pagodas located around the city, but the Shwedagon Pagoda is the most prominent and well-loved landmark. It is the national pride of Yangon, and is reported to be the oldest in Asia. The city also has a number of parks, such as the Kandawgyi Lake and Bogyoke Park, and an array of colonial-era buildings.¹²

 

Singapore and Yangon

In 2016-2017, the highest foreign direct investment inflows to Myanmar was from Singapore, with 27 enterprises investing US$3.82 billion.¹³ One of the enterprises that has ventured into Yangon is Tiong Seng Holdings Limited. The construction group and property developer had completed the construction of Yuzana low-cost residential units in the Dagon Seikkan township in Yangon in March 2018.¹⁴

 

References

¹Geography. (2019). Yangon City Development Committee. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.ycdc.gov.mm/mobile_yangon.php?yangonname=Geography; Facts about YCDC. (2014). Yangon City Development Committee, p. 7. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.ycdc.gov.mm/download.php?customizedpdf=FactsaboutYCDC2014

²2017 Myanmar statistical yearbook. (2017, December). Central Statistical Organization, p. 19. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://mmsis.gov.mm/sub_menu/statistics/fileDb.jsp?code_code=001#; The 2014 Myanmar population and housing census: Yangon Region. (2015, May). Department of Population, Ministry of Immigration and Population, p. 1. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://www.dop.gov.mm/sites/dop.gov.mm/files/publication_docs/yangon_region_census_report_-_english.pdf

³Bhattacharya, A. (2018, August 16). My urban challenge: Mayor of Yangon. GovInsider. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://govinsider.asia/digital-gov/my-urban-challenge-mayor-of-yangon-u-maung-maung-soe/

⁴Myanmar statistical yearbook 2017. (2017, December). Central Statistical Organization. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://www.mmsis.gov.mm/sub_menu/statistics/fileDb.jsp#

⁵Doing business in Yangon 2018. (2018). PricewaterhouseCooper Myanmar Co., p. 5. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pwc.com/mm/en/publications/assets/yangon-business-guide-2018.pdf; Yangon city geography. (2014, April 19). Yangon Life. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://yangonlife.com.mm/en/article/yangon-city-geography; Geography. (2019). Yangon City Development Committee. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.ycdc.gov.mm/mobile_yangon.php?yangonname=Geography

⁶The 2014 Myanmar population and housing census: Yangon Region. (2015, May). Department of Population, Ministry of Immigration and Population, pp. 1, 10-12. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://www.dop.gov.mm/sites/dop.gov.mm/files/publication_docs/yangon_region_census_report_-_english.pdf; Doing business in Yangon 2018. (2018). PricewaterhouseCooper Myanmar Co., p. 8. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pwc.com/mm/en/publications/assets/yangon-business-guide-2018.pdf

⁷Doing business in Yangon 2018. (2018). PricewaterhouseCooper Myanmar Co., pp. 4, 8, 10. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pwc.com/mm/en/publications/assets/yangon-business-guide-2018.pdf

⁸Doing business in Yangon 2018. (2018). PricewaterhouseCooper Myanmar Co., p. 12. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pwc.com/mm/en/publications/assets/yangon-business-guide-2018.pdf

⁹New Yangon Development Company Ltd. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://nydc.com.mm/; Yee, Y. M. (2019, January 25). Yangon’s new city to start bidding process. Myanmar Times. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.mmtimes.com/news/yangons-new-city-start-bidding-process.html; Doing business in Yangon 2018. (2018). PricewaterhouseCooper Myanmar Co., p. 34. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pwc.com/mm/en/publications/assets/yangon-business-guide-2018.pdf; Socio-economic master plan for New Yangon city. (2018, September). New Yangon Development Company Ltd, pp. 6, 9. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://nydc.com.mm/wp-files/NYDC-Socio-Economic-Master-Plan-English.pdf

¹⁰Myanmar business guide. (2018.). PwC, pp. 24-25. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.pwc.com/mm/en/publications/assets/myanmar-business-guide.pdf

¹¹Yamon, A. (2019, January 19). Myanmar plans smart city in Thilawa SEZ. Global New Light of Myanmar. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://www.globalnewlightofmyanmar.com/myanmar-plans-smart-city-in-thilawa-sez/

¹²Yangon: Let the journey begin. (n.d.). Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://tourism.gov.mm/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/002-Yangon-Myanmar-Let-the-Journey-Begin.pdf; Myanmar tourism statistics 2017. (2017). Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://tourism.gov.mm/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Myanmar-Tourism-Statictics-2017.pdf

¹³2017 Myanmar statistical yearbook. (2017, December). Central Statistical Organization, p. 439. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://mmsis.gov.mm/sub_menu/statistics/fileDb.jsp?code_code=001#

¹⁴Tiong Seng scales its construction capabilities offshore with successful handover of residential units in Yangon, Myanmar. (2019, March 28). Tiong Seng Group. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://investors.tiongseng.com.sg/static-files/f8f5a8b2-a91c-4654-ab8b-96c79b2cdbb5%20