The capital city of Myanmar, Naypyidaw, is 7,054 square kilometres, the city is a ghost town. Its population is only 924,608.
The capital of Myanmar was moved from Yangon to Naypyitaw (which means Seat of the King) by the then-military regime in November 2005.
Naypyidaw (ghost city) was constructed in secret by the Myanmar Junta in the early 2000s. 2005s it was officially announced as the country’s new capital. Government workers were given two months notice that they would have to move from Yangon, as all government offices and ministries were relocated.
Naypyidaw is a unique city in the region. It is a fully constructed large city but with very few inhabitants compared to its size.
Ten years after it was unveiled as Myanmar’s vast new capital, Naypyidaw has everything required of a major international city – except people.
According to The Guardian, it is rumoured to have cost $4 billion (£3.2 billion) to construct the city, with 20-lane highways and wide streets designed for a future of expansion.
The roads have up to 20 lanes and stretch as far as the eye can see (the rumour is these grandiose boulevards were built to enable aircraft to land on them in the event of anti-government protests or other “disturbances”).
The vast highways are empty and there is a stillness to the air. Nothing moves. Officially, the city’s population is one million, but many doubt this is true. On a bright Sunday afternoon, the streets are silent, restaurants and hotel lobbies empty. It looks like an eerie picture of post-apocalypse, like a film.
There is a safari park, a zoo – complete with air-conditioned penguin habitat – and at least four golf courses. And the electricity supply is reliable here, unlike almost everywhere else in the country. Many of the restaurants have free, fast Wi-fi.
Driving through Naypyidaw, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries.
However, despite billions in government investment, the city has struggled to attract Burmese locals or substantial numbers of tourists.
The city has wide boulevards/highways (still almost empty) and extravagant roundabouts. Brightly lit boulevards folded one into the next, with glowing flower sculptures at every junction.
It has housing for government workers, but many still maintain residences for their families in Yangon as education and health infrastructure is not yet in place.
The international retail chains found throughout all other capital cities are not present in Naypyidaw.