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Kayin State

Kayin State
ကရင်ပြည်နယ် (Burmese)
ဖၠုံခါန်ႋကၞင့် (Pwo Eastern Karen)

ကညီကီၢ်စဲၣ် (S'gaw Karen)
Other transcription(s)
 • Karenk'nyaw kawseh
 • Burmeseka.rang pranynai
Flag of Kayin State
Official seal of Kayin State
Location of Kayin State in Myanmar
Location of Kayin State in Myanmar
Coordinates: 17°0′N 97°45′E / 17.000°N 97.750°E / 17.000; 97.750
Country Myanmar
 • Chief MinisterSaw Myint Oo
 • CabinetKayin State Government
 • LegislatureKayin State Hluttaw
 • JudiciaryHigh Court of Karen State
 • Total30,382.8 km2 (11,730.9 sq mi)
 • Rank11th
Highest elevation2,623 m (8,606 ft)
 • Total1,574,079
 • Rank11th
 • Density52/km2 (130/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Karen, Kayin
 • EthnicitiesKaren (majority), Padaung, Bamar, Shan, Pa-O, Mon, Rakhine, Burmese-Thai
 • ReligionsBuddhism 84.5%
Christianity 9.5%
Islam 4.6%
Hinduism 0.6%
Animism 0.1%
Others 0.7%
Time zoneUTC+06:30 (MMT)
HDI (2017)0.527[2]
low · 12th
Official languageKaren

Kayin State (Burmese: ကရင်ပြည်နယ်, pronounced [kəjɪ̀ɴ pjìnɛ̀]; Pwo Eastern Karen: ဖၠုံခါန်ႋကၞင့်; S'gaw Karen: ကညီကီၢ်စဲၣ်, pronounced [kɲɔkɔshæ]), formerly known as Karen State, is a state of Myanmar. The capital city is Hpa-An, also spelled Pa-An.

The terrain of the state is mountainous with the Dawna Range running along the state in a NNW–SSE direction and the southern end of the Karen Hills in the northwest.[3] It is bordered by Mae Hong Son, Tak, and Kanchanaburi provinces of Thailand to the east; Mon State and Bago Region to the west and south; Mandalay Region, Shan State and Kayah State to the north.


The region that forms today's Karen State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Bagan Empire in mid-11th century. During the 13th to 16th centuries, much of the region belonged to the Hanthawaddy Kingdom, while the northern part of the region belonged to Taungoo, a vassal state of Ava Kingdom. The region became part of Taungoo Dynasty and Konbaung Dynasty from 16th to 19th centuries. The British seized the southern third of today's Karen State (below the Salween River) after the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826), and the rest after the Second Anglo-Burmese War of 1852.

Towards the end of the British colonial era (1945-1948), the Karen leadership insisted on a separate state covering today's Karen State and much of Mon State and Taninthayi Region, within the British Empire. They refused to sign the Panglong Agreement of February 1947, which was the basis for the 1947 Constitution of Burma, and boycotted the pre-independence elections of April 1947.[4] Nonetheless, the constitution granted the Karen a state, though with an area less than what the Karen leadership had asked for from the British. The constitution also guaranteed states with the right to secede from the Union after a period of 10 years. (The Panglong Agreement gave only the Shan and the Kachin a state each; the Chin who actually signed the agreement did not receive a state.) The Karen National Union (KNU), which dominated the Karen leadership, was not satisfied, and wanted outright independence. In 1949, the KNU raised a rebellion that continues up to today.[5] The KNU celebrates January 31 as 'revolution day', marking the day they went underground at the battle of Insein.

Much of the state has been a battlefield since then. The civilians have taken the brunt of the war. The KNU today forms the world's longest-running resistance. The military government purportedly changed the English name of the state to Kayin State from Karen State in 1989.

Since 1976 the KNU has called for a federal system rather than an independent Karen State. In January 2012, Myanmar's military-backed civilian government signed a ceasefire deal with the KNU in Hpa-an, the capital of eastern Kayin State. Aung Min, the Railway Minister, and General Saw Chee Tik of the KNU led the peace talks.[6]


Located between latitudes 15° 45' north and 19° 25' north and longitudes 96° 10' east and 98° 28' east. It has a hot and humid climate because of the mountain ranges that lie in its backdrop and its location, which is near the sea, in the tropics. The temperature of the hottest month in eastern mountain regions never falls below 22.2 °C (71.9 °F). Lowlands in the west and south of the state are located in the tropical monsoon climate. The lowest annual rainfall in the region is 3,000 millimetres (120 in) and the highest is 4,800 millimetres (190 in). The regions get most of the rain in summer. Some of the rivers and creeks in Karen State are flowing from south to north due to the location of the mountains. The main rivers in the state are Thanlwin (Salween River), Thaungyin (Moei River), Gyaing and Attaran.


The government of Kayin State is split into three branches: an executive (Kayin State Government), a legislative (Kayin State Hluttaw), and a judicial (Kayin State High Court).

Administrative divisions

Karen State consists of one city and nine towns. It has four districts, seven townships and 4092 villages.

4 districts of Kayin



Cities and towns

Payathonzu Pagoda
Mountainous area of Kayin State

Villages and hamlets

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (August 2017)
Cross on top of Naw Bu Baw Mountain, Kayin state

Due to the mountainous terrain in Karen State, most villages are small and contain less than 40 households so a large amount of Karen's population is dotted across the countryside over hundreds, if not thousands of villages.[citation needed]



Historical population
1973 858,429—    
1983 1,055,359+22.9%
2014 1,574,079+49.2%
Source: 2014 Myanmar Census[1]

Since the 1973 Census, the population of Karen State has increased from 858,429 to 1,055,359 in the 1983 census and 1,574,079 in the census of 2014. This means the population of Karen State has increased by about 49 percent between the 1983 and the 2014 census. The population of Karen State ranks eleventh in size when compared with other States and Regions in the country, only higher than Tanintharyi Region, Nay Pyi Taw Union Territory and Chin State. In terms of the proportion of the total population, the population of Karen State has marginally increased from 3.0 percent in 1983 to 3.1 percent in 2014.[7]


Religion in Kayin (2015)[8]

  Buddhism (84.5%)
  Christianity (9.5%)
  Islam (4.6%)
  Other religion (0.7%)
  Hinduism (0.6%)
  Tribal religion (0.1%)

According to the 2014 Myanmar Census, Buddhists, who make up 84.5% of Kayin State's population, form the largest religious community there.[9] Minority religious communities include Christians (9.5%), Muslims (4.6%), Hindus (0.6%), and animists (0.1%) who collectively comprise the remainder of Kayin State's population.[9] 0.7% of the population listed no religion, other religions, or were otherwise not enumerated.[9]

According to the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee's 2016 statistics, 14,080 Buddhist monks were registered in Kayin State, comprising 2.6% of Myanmar's total Sangha membership, which includes both novice samanera and fully-ordained bhikkhu.[10] The majority of monks belong to the Thudhamma Nikaya (89%), followed by Shwegyin Nikaya (9.7%), with the remainder of monks belonging to other small monastic orders.[10] 1,000 thilashin were registered in Kayin State, comprising 1.7% of Myanmar's total thilashin community.[10]


View from Mount Zwegabin towards Hpa An.


Tourism is one of the main economy of Karen State. After the signing of the preliminary ceasefire between the KNU and the Myanmar government in 2012, the number of visitors to Karen State increased largely.[11] Karen State experienced over 40,000 tourists in 2013, followed by 50,000 in 2014. In 2016, the number of visitors reached a record 150,000.[11]

Border Trade

Myawaddy border trading post of Karen State is the second biggest among Myanmar's 15 border trading posts.[12] It is the main border crossing trade route between Thailand and Myanmar. According to Thailand's Chamber of Commerce, the monthly trade between the two countries in 2015 through the Mae Sot to Myawaddy crossing was worth over 3 billion baht (about 90 million US dollar).[13]

Thanlwin Bridge over the river Salween.


Karen State is a farming state. Currently, there are over 460,000 acres of paddy fields and 260,000 acres of rubber tree plantations in Karen State.[14] There is over 9000 acres of coffee land in Thandaung area. The Kayin State government is trying to implement new farming technology to improve its agriculture sector.[14]


In 2016, the government announced a strategy to attract domestic and foreign investors to the Hpa-An industrial zone.[15] However, shortage of electricity supply hinders the development of Hpa-An industrial zone. The Kayin State government in conjunction with a Japanese company has been trying to carry out a feasibility survey for an 1800-megawatt coal-fired power plant to fulfill the need of electricity supply. On the other hand, community members and local environmental groups have raised concerns about the potential impacts from coal plant emissions.[16]


Karen State is served by Hpapun Airport and Hpa-An Airport but none of those currently use for public transportation.

In 2015, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $100 million loan to improve a 66.4 kilometer section of road connecting the towns of Eindu and Kawkareik in Kayin state, the missing link of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) East-West Corridor.[17]

Salween River in Hpa-An
Salween River in Hpa-An. The mountain on the background is Mount Zwegabin.


Major universities in Kayin state include Hpa-An University, Computer University, Hpa-An and Technological University, Hpa-An.

Technological University in Hpa-an

Educational opportunities in Myanmar are limited outside the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay. It is especially a problem in Karen State where constant fighting between the government and insurgents for over 60 years has produced thousands of refugees and internally displaced people. According to official statistics, less than 10% of primary school students in Karen State reach high school.[18] All the institutions of higher education are located in Hpa-An City.

AY 2002-2003 Primary Middle High
Schools 1139 78 31
Teachers 3400 1200 400
Students 148,000 47,000 12,000

Health care

The general state of health care in Myanmar is poor. Although health care is nominally free, in reality, patients have to pay for medicine and treatment, even in public clinics and hospitals. Public hospitals lack some basic facilities and equipment.

In general, the health care infrastructure outside of Yangon and Mandalay is poor but is especially worse in conflict ridden areas like Karen State. The public health care system in the state is very poor. The following is a summary of the public health care system in the state.[19]

2002–2003 # Hospitals # Beds
Specialist hospitals 0 0
General hospitals with specialist services 1 200
General hospitals 7 275
Health clinics 17 272
Total 25 747

See also


  1. ^ a b Census Report. The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census. Vol. 2. Naypyitaw: Ministry of Immigration and Population. May 2015. p. 17. Archived from the original on 2019-05-07. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  2. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Archived from the original on 2018-09-23. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  3. ^ The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia, Avijit Gupta, Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-924802-5
  4. ^ Thant Myint-U (2006). The River of Lost Footsteps--Histories of Burma. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-374-16342-6.
  5. ^ Myint-U, pp. 258-263
  6. ^ "Burma government signs ceasefire with Karen rebels". BBC News. 2012-01-12. Archived from the original on 2021-03-20. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  7. ^ The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census: Kayin State. Nay Pyi Taw: Ministry of Immigration and Population. 2015. p. 11.
  8. ^ Department of Population Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population MYANMAR (July 2016). The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census Census Report Volume 2-C. Department of Population Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population MYANMAR. pp. 12–15. Archived from the original on 2020-04-27. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  9. ^ a b c The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census Census Report Volume 2-C. Department of Population Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population. July 2016. pp. 12–15. Archived from the original on 2020-04-27. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  10. ^ a b c "The Account of Wazo Monks and Nuns in 1377 (2016 year)". State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee. 2016. Archived from the original on 2021-01-27. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  11. ^ a b Shar, KIC/Saw. "Kayin State enjoys tourism influx after ceasefire - Burma News International". Archived from the original on 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  12. ^ "Myawaddy Border Trade Continues Despite Clashes". Myanmar Business Today. Archived from the original on 2017-10-06. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  13. ^ "Traders Excited By Start of Construction of New Friendship Bridge Between Mae Sot and Myawaddy « Karen News". Archived from the original on 2017-10-05. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  14. ^ a b "Kayin State to develop farming, livestock sectors". The Myanmar Times. Archived from the original on 2017-10-08. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  15. ^ "News - Government plans Hpa-an zone to kick-start Kayin economy". Archived from the original on 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  16. ^ Shaung/KIC, S’Phan. "Kayin State residents oppose coal-fired power plant through petition - Burma News International". Archived from the original on 2017-10-08. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  17. ^ "ADB Loan to Help Upgrade Road in Kayin State on GMS Corridor Route". Asian Development Bank. 2015-11-12. Archived from the original on 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  18. ^ "Education statistics by level and by State and Division". Myanmar Central Statistical Organization. Archived from the original on 2008-05-24. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  19. ^ "Hospitals and Dispensaries by State and Division". Myanmar Central Statistical Organization. Archived from the original on 2011-04-30. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
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Kayin State
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