Regions of Myanmar

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"Geopolitical Entities, Names, and Codes, Edition 2" (GENC), a U.S. standard that's supposed to correspond to ISO 3166-2, was issued on 2014-03-31. It gave Nay Pyi Taw the code MM-18. Subsequently, on 2014-11-03, ISO officially issued a code for Naypyidaw. At the same time, it changed the spellings of Ayeyarwady and Tanintharyi to Ayeyawadi and Taninthayi. Now there is a perfect match between the two standards.

Update 10 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2012-12-31. It changes the status of divisions to regions, and adds Nay Pyi Daw as a union territory. It also changes the spelling of two regions, dropping the letter "r".

The 2008 constitution changes the status of divisions to regions. It also establishes "union territories," but only one such territory is specifically identified: Naypyidaw.

Newsletter VI-9, revising ISO 3166-1, was published on 2011-06-20. It adds "Republic of" to the formal country name.

On 2005-11-06, the government suddenly began a relocation from Yangon to Pyinmana, in Mandalay division. The name of the new capital, as of 2005-11-12, was Nay Pyi Daw or Naypyidaw, Burmese for "successful capital city" or "royal city". The move was said to be complete on 2006-02-17. Some reports say that the residents of the site of the new capital persist in calling it by its previous name, Kyetpyay, which means "fleeing chicken".

The name of the country's official language is being changed from Burmese to Myanmar.

Country overview: 

Short nameMYANMAR
ISO codeMM
GEC codeBM
LanguageBurmese (my)
Time zone+6:30


In 1900, Burma was one of the provinces of India. It was detached from India as a separate crown colony on 1937-04-01. It was occupied by Japan during World War II. It became independent on 1948-01-04. The government requested the use of the name Union of Myanmar in English as of 1989-06-19. Most western organizations have complied, with the exception, so far, of the U.S. Government.

Other names of country: 

  1. Burmese: Myanmar Naingngandaw (formal)
  2. Danish: Myanmar, Burma (obsolete)
  3. Dutch: Myanmar, Unie Myanmar (formal)
  4. English: Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formal), Burma (obsolete)
  5. Finnish: Myanmar, Burma (obsolete)
  6. French: République f de l'Union f de Myanmar m (formal), Birmanie f (obsolete)
  7. German: Myanmar, Birma n (obsolete), Burma (obsolete)
  8. Icelandic: Mjanmar, Burma (obsolete)
  9. Italian: Myanmar, Birmania f (obsolete)
  10. Norwegian: Myanmar, Unionen Myanmar (formal), Burma (obsolete)
  11. Portuguese: Mianmar, Myanmar, Mianmá (Brazil), União f de Myanmar (formal), Birmânia f, Burma (obsolete)
  12. Russian: Бирма (obsolete), Союз Мьянма (formal)
  13. Spanish: Myanmar, Unión f de Myanmar (formal), Birmania (obsolete)
  14. Swedish: Myanmar, Burma (obsolete)
  15. Turkish: Birmanya (obsolete), Myanmar Birliği (formal)

Origin of name: 

Burmese myamma naygan: strong

Primary subdivisions: 

Myanmar is divided into seven yin (regions), seven pyine (states), and one union territory. Generally speaking, states are semi-autonomous areas allocated to particular ethnic groups.

RakhinestMM.RA16BM012,618,3922,045,89136,76214,194Sittwe (Akyab)07
15 divisions51,282,29435,306,189678,033261,790
  • Typ: rg = region, st = state, ut = union territory.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • GEC: Codes from GEC.
  • Pop-2003: estimated populations, ca. 2003 (source [2])
  • Pop-1983: 1983-03-31 census
  • Pc: First two digits of postal codes for this division.


Note: The capital of Rakhine has been known as Akyab or Sittwe interchangeably for many years. During the 1960s, the capital of Magway temporarily moved from Magwe to Yenangyaung.

Postal codes: 

Myanmar uses five-digit postal codes. The first two digits represent the region or state.

Further subdivisions:

See the Districts of Myanmar page.

The regions and states are subdivided into kayaing (districts) and substates. These are further subdivided into about 314 townships.

Some recent sources say that Myanmar has 17 primary subdivisions. Those sources consider Bago region to be divided into Bago (east) and Bago (west), and Shan State into Shan (east), Shan (north), and Shan (south). The others are unchanged.

According to the constitution, there are also six self-administered zones or districts, which are subsets of Shan state and Sagaing region.

Territorial extent: 

  1. Ayeyarwady includes the islands in the Preparis Channel: Great Coco, Little Coco, Preparis, and Table Islands, as well as the islands in the delta of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River.
  2. Mon includes Bilugyun Island in the mouth of the Salween River, and some small coastal islands.
  3. Rakhine includes Ramree and Cheduba Islands, Ye Kyun, and the Boronga Islands.
  4. Tanintharyi includes the Mergui Archipelago, from Christie, Auriol, and Graham Islands in the south to Mali Kyun in the north; and the Moscos Islands off Tavoy. The largest islands in the Merguis are Kadan Kyun (King), Kanmaw Kyun (Kissaraing), Letsok-aw Kyun (Dome), and Lanbi Kyun (Sullivan).

The UN LOCODE page  for Myanmar lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Ayeyarwady: from the river name, which comes from Sanskrit for refreshing
  2. Kawthule: Karen for flowery land
  3. Tanintharyi: from Malay for land of delight
  4. Yangon: Burmese for armistice, named by King Alompra after conquering the area

Change history: 

In 1900, Burma was a province of India, and was divided into Lower Burma (capital Rangoon) and Upper Burma (Mandalay). Upper Burma contained the divisions of Mandalay, Meiktila, Minbu, Sagaing, and the Federated Shan States (North and South). Lower Burma consisted of Arakan, Irrawaddy, Pegu, and Tenasserim. These divisions were further subdivided into districts.

  1. 1922-10-10: Karenni States (Bawlake, Kantarawaddy, and Kyebogyi) placed under the administration of the Federated Shan States.
  2. ~1940: Name of Minbu division changed to Magwe; Meiktila division merged with Mandalay.
Northern Shan States636,10755,42621,400TaunggyiE
Southern Shan States870,23094,31736,416TaunggyiE
  • Population: 1931 census (source [3])
  • Sec: E = Eastern States, L = Lower Burma,
    U = Upper Burma
  1. 1948-01-04: Burmese independence. Chin Hills special division split from Arakan division. Kachin state formed by taking Myitkyina and Bhamo districts from Mandalay; Karen state formed by taking parts of Amherst, Thaton, and Toungoo districts from Tenasserim; Karenni state split from Federated Shan States; Shan state formed by merging the Federated Shan States and the Wa States.
  2. 1952-01-14: Name of Karenni state changed to Kayah.
  3. 1964: Rangoon division, formerly a district of Pegu division, split from Pegu. Capital of Pegu division changed from Rangoon to Pegu. Name of Karen state changed to Kawthule.
  4. 1972-06: Hanthawaddy and Hmawbi districts transferred from Pegu division to Rangoon division.
  5. 1973-03-31: At the time of the 1973 census, the following divisions were reported. I have not attempted to reconcile them with the rest of the change history.
Tenasserim (I)d1,313,111
Tenasserim (II)d717,607
  • Typ: d = division, s = state.
  • Population: 1973-03-31 census.
    Excludes 1,600 residents
    who were absent at the time
    of the census (source [5]).
  1. 1974-01-04: New constitution enters in force. Status and name of Chin Hills special division changed to Chin state. Capital of Chin moved from Falam to Haka. Name of Kawthule state changed back to Karen. Mon state split from Tenasserim division. Capital of Tenasserim moved from Moulmein to Tavoy. Status of Arakan division changed to state.
  2. 1989-06-19: Name of country changed from Burma to Myanmar. Names of Irrawaddy, Magwe, Pegu, Rangoon, and Tenasserim divisions and Arakan, Karen, and Karenni states changed to Ayeyarwady, Magway, Bago, Yangon, Tanintharyi, Rakhine, Kayin, and Kayah, respectively. Name of national capital changed from Rangoon to Yangon.
  3. 2005-11-12: National capital moved from Yangon to Naypyidaw, in Mandalay division.
  4. 2008-05-29: Under the new constitution, status of divisions changed to regions. Also, the constitution establishes Naypyidaw as a union territory. Since this resulted in a change to the extent of Mandalay (former HASC code MM.MD), I changed its code.

Other names of subdivisions: 

Names of the states often include the generic (e.g., Chin State; État Mon).

  1. Ayeyarwady: Ayeyarwaddy, Ayeyawady (variant); Irawadi (German); Irraouaddi (French); Irrauaddy (Portuguese); Irrawaddy (obsolete)
  2. Bago: Pégou (French); Pegu (obsolete)
  3. Chin: Chin Hills (obsolete)
  4. Kayah: Karenni (obsolete)
  5. Kayin: Karen, Kawthule (obsolete); Karin, Kawthoolei, Kawthulay (variant)
  6. Magway: Magwe (variant); Minbu (obsolete)
  7. Mon: Mun (variant)
  8. Rakhine: Arakan (obsolete)
  9. Tanintharyi: Taninthayi, Thanintharyi (variant); Tenasserim (obsolete)
  10. Yangon: Rangoon (obsolete); Rangum (Portuguese); Rangun (German); Rangún (Spanish)


  1. [1] An Introduction to the Toponymy of Burma , a publication of the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (retrieved 2009-12-19), discusses naming issues in Myanmar. It also shows estimated populations of divisions as of 2007, derived by multiplying the 1983 census figures by 1.552745 and rounding to the nearest 100. There hasn't been a census of Myanmar since 1983.
  2. [2] The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has compiled a Digital Agricultural Atlas  of the Union of Myanmar (retrieved 2009-11-17).
  3. [3] Webster's Geographical Dictionary. G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, MA, 1957.
  4. [4] Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2008)  (retrieved 2012-08-20).
  5. [5] 1979 Demographic Yearbook , 31st Ed. Statistical Office, United Nations, New York, 1980 (retrieved 2011-12-28).
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