Capital and chief port of Myanmar (Burma) on the Yangon River, 32 km/20 mi from the Indian Ocean; population (2001 est) 3,938,900. Yangon is a centre of communications by road, rail, and air, as well as by river transport, and is one of the greatest rice markets in the world. Over three-quarters of Myanmar's international trade goes through Yangon, with rice, teak, and metal ores being the leading exports. Major industries, all state-owned, in the city include soap, rubber, and aluminium manufacturing. There is also some shipbuilding, oil refining, and textile and pottery manufacture. The population includes many Indians and Chinese.
The city Dagon was founded on the site in 746; it was given the name Rangoon (meaning ‘end of conflict’) by King Alaungpaya in 1755. The British East India Company set up a factory here in 1790, and the city was captured by the British in 1852. It was occupied by Japan in World War II.
The most ancient buildings in Yangon include Buddhist temples, most notably the 99-m/326-ft high Shwe Dagon pagoda (585 BC), which is entirely covered in gold leaf and is a centre of pilgrimage for Burmese Buddhists. The Sule and Botataung pagodas are also over 2,000 years old. Yangon also holds famous reclining and seated images of Buddha. The arts and science university was founded in 1920, and the city is also the home of the National Museum (1952), the natural history museum, the Yangon Institute of Technology, and the Institute of Medicine. There is an international airport at Mingaladon, to the north.