Geography and political Status

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Present-day Arakan (Rakhine) State is a crescent-like coastal region of Western Burma covering a total land area of about 20,000 square miles (52,000 square kilometres) and a state in Burma. It stretches from the Naff River in the North that marks its borders with Bangladesh (193 km) and India (30 km) to Cape Nagris in the South, which touches the Andaman Sea.
The north-south extension (latitudinal spread) of Arakan is 360 miles as the crow flies; in the Sitetway district, the cradle of Arakanese civilization, the spread is only approximately 160 miles. The east-west extension of the territory is even less: the widest part, spanning northern Arakan state from the Bay of Bengal to the crestline of the Arakan Roma mountains is about 100 miles. Further south, near Sandway, Arakan is only about 25 miles across. The coastal strip grows even narrower as it extends south, where it terminates in a point, known as Pagodas Point.

Old Arakan MapCurrent Arakan Map

It is important to note that Burman-occupied territory was demarcated from historical Arakan in the Randaboo Treaty, which was signed between two alien powers, the British colonial administration in India and the Burman expansionists, on February 24, 1826. The treaty awarded to the Burman kingdom some territory of present-day Arakan, plus the southernmost part of historical Arakan from the Kyauk-chwan River to Haigree (Haigyi) Island, Pagodas Point and Cape Nagris, as well as the Northern Arakan Hills that are the Paletwa district today. The total area of the lost territory was 21,694 square miles.
After the southernmost portion of the Bessein administration was partitioned by the British in 1853, the area of Arakan was further reduced to 18,945 square miles. Again after 1952, the Northern Arakan Hills of the Paletwa district were separated from Arakan and renamed the Chin Hills by the Burman-dominated government of post-Independence Burma. The area of modern Arakan State, which borders Chin State and Bangladesh in the north and Magwe Division in the east, and faces the Bay of Bengal in the west is 14,200 square miles.
With approximately four million inhabitants, Arakan State accounts for about 6 % of the total population of Burma. Situated on the Bay of Bengal, it benefits from the natural resources yielded by the sea, its forests, and the fertile Kaladan and Laymro River valleys. Most people in Arakan engage in rice farming and fishing, which are at the foundation of both their daily struggle for survival and their cultural identity. The state is divided into 5 districts and 17 townships, 3 sub-townships, 20 towns, 132 quarters, 1,040 village-tracts and 3,861 villages. The capital city, Sitetway (Sittwe), known also as Akyab, has a population of approximately 350,000 and is located on an estuarial island at the confluence of the Kaladan, Laymro, and Mayu rivers.

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