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Rakhine State

Rakhine State (räkēnˈ) [key], formerly Arakan ărəkănˈ, äräkänˈ, state (1983 pop. 2,045,891), 14,194 sq mi (36,762 sq km), W Myanmar, extending along the Bay of Bengal. It lies at the foot of the Arakan Mts., which rises to 10,016 ft (3,053 m) at Mt. Victoria. The capital is Sittwe. The Arakanese, or Rakhine, who are of Burmese stock with strong Indian influences, are mostly engaged in intensive rice cultivation; they are Buddhists. The Rohingya, a Muslim people who speak a Bengali dialect, form a large minority, but are not recognized as a Myanmarese ethnic nationality by the national government and are stateless; they have suffered much persecution. A number of other, smaller minority groups also live in the state.

The region, which is geographically isolated, was the seat of a powerful kingdom (after the 15th cent.), famous for a colossal image of Buddha. At various times under Burmese rule, it finally was absorbed into Burma (now Myanmar) in 1783; it was the first Burmese territory ceded (1826) to the British after the first Anglo-Burmese War. In the 1950s there was a movement for secession from Myanmar. In 2012 ten of thousands of Arakanese and Rohingyas were displaced as a result of outbreaks of ethnic violence between the two groups. Outbreaks of violence have continued, becoming more sectarian than ethnic in nature.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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