Capital of Mandalay Division and Burma's second largest city, located on the east bank of the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River in Upper Burma. Its population was 533,000 at the time of the 1983 census, and at the beginning of the 21st century was estimated at between 600,000 and 800,000. Between 1857 and 1885, it served as Burma's last royal capital, having been constructed by order of King Mindon on a site that, according to legend, had been favored by Gotama Buddha as the place where a great city would be built 2,400 years after the founding of the Buddhist religion. Mandalay's most notable landmark is the moated wall that surrounds the place where the Mandalay Palace stood until it was destroyed during World War II. The city also contains important Buddhist sites, such as Mandalay Hill, the Maha Muni Buddha Image, and the Kuthodaw Pagoda. Because of its status as a former royal capital, Mandalay is a center for traditional Burmese arts, culture, and religious life.
   Massive demonstrations occurred in Mandalay in 1988, and a "strike committee" in which monks played a prominent role briefly governed the city during Democracy Summer. In the summer of 1990, senior monks at Mandalay monasteries began a boycott of the Tatmadaw, known as Overturning the Offering Bowl, which spread to other parts of the country.
   Economic liberalization has transformed the city since 1988. Both the zeigyo, the old central market, and the colonial-era railway station have been replaced by multistoried modern structures, several international class hotels have been built with foreign investment, and Chinese businesspeople have bought up property in the city center, causing land prices to rise, forcing many of the original Burmese residents to relocate to outlying districts. A new $3.15 billion international airport has been constructed south of the city by a Thai construction company, with facilities to handle wide-bodied jets and a capacity of three million passengers annually.
   Mandalay's economic ties with China, especially Yunnan Province, strengthened after 1988, and a large though unspecified number of Yunnanese and other Chinese have settled in the city, often purchasing Burmese identity cards. Chinese-owned businesses are so numerous that local Burmese often call central Mandalay "Chinatown."

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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