When Yangon’s Avenues Traded Colonial English Names for Burmese

By Wei Yan Aung 27 March 2020

YANGON—On this day in 1989, 165 streets in Yangon had their names changed from English to Burmese names. As the government adopted Burmese names for streets on March 27, 1989, Fraser Street, named 130 years earlier after Lieutenant Alexander Fraser, who designed the layout of Yangon, was changed to Anawrahta Road, after the founder of first Burmese Empire.

Chin Tsong Avenue in Bahan Township, named after Burmese-Chinese tycoon Lim Chin Tsong, was changed to Kanbawza Street.

Most of the streets in Yangon were named after British government and military officials, intellectuals, intelligentsia and Chinese and Indian moguls prominent during the colonial period. The names of streets were also changed in the period before World War II, during Japanese rule and after independence. Most changes, however, were made during the military regime of the State Law and Order Restoration Council between 1988 and 1997.

In the same year, the name of the country was changed from Burma to Myanmar, and the names of regions, states, cities and rivers were also changed from their English colonial names to their Burmese language names—Rangoon became Yangon, and the Irrawaddy River became the Ayeyarwady River. Wards, parks and islands with English names were also changed to Burmese names.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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