via South China Morning Post, 02 November 2018: Interesting story about heritage houses in Yangon built by Chinese tycoons in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Ethnic Chinese accounted for less than 3 per cent of the population of Burma in 1881, a figure that had increased to 8.9 per cent by 1911, at which time Indians made up 56 per cent of the population, according to figures cited in Mapping Chinese Rangoon. By 1931, the Indian population of Rangoon exceeded one million, while the ethnic Chinese population was less than 200,000.
Although the races were not legally forced to live separately, downtown Rangoon was essentially divided into three quarters: the European quarter east of Sule Pagoda Road, the Indian quarter west of Sule Pagoda Road, and the Chinese quarter west of the Indian quarter (starting around Shwedagon Pagoda Road) down to 19th Street – now the culinary heart of Yangon’s Chinatown.
A westward stroll down Maha Bandoola Road takes the visitor past still visibly Indian neighbourhoods, with their mosques and Hindu temples; these slowly make way for Chinatown, with its Guan Yin and Kheng Hock Keong temples, and restaurants serving typical southern Chinese cuisine – noodles and pork, chicken and rice, and the ubiquitous fried rice and fried noodles.
Rangoon’s overseas Chinese were drawn to opportunities the city’s booming commercial port offered. While some came by land, crossing into upper Myanmar from Yunnan province, the majority were Cantonese speakers from Guangdong and Hokkien speakers from Fujian, who came by sea.