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Rakhine State

Rakhine State räkēn´ [key], formerly Arakan ărəkăn´, äräkän´ [key], 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, and tensions and sporadic violence have continued since then. In late 2016 an attack on police by a Rohingya insurgent group led to a military crackdown in N Rakhine that continued into early 2017; there were accusations of military atrocities, and many Rohingya fled to Bangladesh. Rohingya insurgent attacks in N Rakhine in Aug., 2017, sparked attacks on Rohingyas by the military and Buddhist mobs; their villages were burned, some 7,000 were believed to have been killed, and hundreds of thousands fled to Bangladesh.

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

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