Western Myanmar, home to the proud Rakhaing people, is a land unto itself. Isolated and inaccessible from the rest of the country, this enigmatic region is in many ways closer to Bangladesh than Burma. Sittwe is only accessible by air or water and ‘baby Bagan’, the atmospheric temple city of Mrauk U, is reached by a boat ride inland.
The Rakhaing people, dubbed ‘Burmese’ by the government, love their own language and culture. The Mahumuni Buddha remains a sensitive subject and locals love to tell the story of how it was stolen by the Burmese and moved to Mandalay in 1784.
The Muslim population, known as the Rohingya, is frequently in conflict with the Buddhist majority, as the Rohingya have been heavily persecuted by the government. The government doesn’t recognise them as citizens, and many have escaped across the border to Bangladesh as refugees.
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