Welcome to Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State in Myanmar. Located on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River, Myitkyina is a city steeped in history and culture. Its name means ‘near the big river’ in Burmese, and it is the northernmost river port and railway terminus in Myanmar. In this article, we will explore the rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty of Myitkyina.
Myitkyina has been an important trading town between China and Myanmar since ancient times. American Baptist missionary George J. Geis and his wife arrived in Myitkyina in the late 1890s and in 1900 they requested permission to build a mansion in the town. The building was named Geis Memorial Church. It is one of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) churches in Myitkyina. Japanese forces captured the town and nearby airbase during World War II in 1942. In August 1944, Myitkyina was recaptured by the Allied forces under General Joseph Stilwell after a prolonged siege and heavy fighting between Nationalist Chinese divisions, the Chindits, and Merrills Marauders of the Northern Combat Area Command and the besieged elements of the 33rd Imperial Japanese Army under General Masaki Honda. The town was strategically important not only because of its rail and water links to the rest of Burma, but also because it was on the planned route of the Ledo Road.
Myitkyina is a melting pot of different ethnic groups, including Kachin, Shan, Bamar, Burmese Gorkha, Chinese, and Indians. The Kachin language is the common language among the Kachin, but some people can speak English and Nepali while the townspeople mostly speak in Burmese which is the national language of Myanmar. Major religions are Theravada Buddhism, Christianity (Roman Catholic and Baptist are major denominations), and other religions such as animism, Hinduism, and Islam. The city is home to Myitkyina University, a Christian theological seminary, a college for teachers, a training school for nurses, a college for the study of computers, and other rare types of colleges affiliated with several seminaries in the United States and Asia, notably Kachin Theological College and Seminary(KTCS)-Nawng Nang. It is also home to the branch I.L.B.C. (International Language Business Center) a chain of private schools for English learners in Myanmar.
Myitkyina is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. The Mali and Nmai rivers converge just 40 kilometers (25 mi) from Myit-son (Burmese for confluence), creating a stunning landscape. The city has a borderline tropical monsoon climate (Köppen Am) bordering upon both a tropical savanna climate (Aw) and a humid subtropical climate (Cwa). Temperatures are very warm throughout the year, although the winter months from December to February are milder. There is a winter dry season from November to April and a summer wet season from May to October. The city is home to many natural resources like jade, gold, amber, and teak, as well as wood and agricultural products. As per government data, almost US$2 billion in jade were exported yearly in 2010 and 2011. However, due to fighting between Kachin Independence Army rebels and the government, most businesses in the region have gone down.
Myitkyina Airport is the main airport serving the city. It connects the cities of Putao, Mandalay, and also Lashio on Mondays. It takes almost 24 hours to go from Mandalay to Myitkyina by train. The railway has been used for 100 years. This railway is a major method of transportation for both farmers and traders to deliver goods. It also connects Laiza, Bhamo, China, and Sumprabum by car. The Myitkyina-Tanai-India road, also known as the Ledo Road, was constructed by the British.
In conclusion, Myitkyina is a city that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From its rich history to its diverse culture and stunning landscapes, Myitkyina is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Come and experience the magic of Myitkyina for yourself!