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The city the size of Sydney that's virtually deserted.

New York City sprawls 789 square kilometres and houses 8.6 million people.

London on the other hand covers an area twice the size of New York City – 1,572 square kilometres – but has a very similar population to New York. Only 8.67 million people. Pretty spacious in comparison.

Sydney? Well Sydney is spread across a massive 12, 368 square kilometres. And plays home to a little over 5 million people.

So. In comparison? Sydney seems pretty damn empty.

But what if I told you there’s a city almost as big as Sydney, with less than 20% of the people?


Naypyidaw is the capital of Myanmar (formerly Burma). And, while the freshly constructed city boasts 22-lane highways and infrastructure designed for hundreds of millions… it has a population of under one million people.

That’s the ‘official’ population count given by the government. But many doubt the true figure is far less than this.

Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Image via Getty.
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The state-run country of Myanmar is one very similar to North Korea in the sense democracy has never been allowed to fully flourish; strict military regime monitors the entire country, and the people, desperate for political change, have been ravaged by war on and off for decades.

While some parts of Myanmar are synonymous with poverty and unrest, its brand-spanking new capital is eerily void of human life. According to Viral Thread, "On the average day, only a few government workers can be seen in the city. There are barely any residents, which of course makes the whole thing even more bizarre".

A 22-lane highway in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Image via BBC.

The Guardian described the city as "an eerie picture of post-apocalypse suburban America; like a David Lynch film on location in North Korea.”

Ten years ago, the government made the odd decision to up and move the country's capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw - an odd decision at the time, given no one had ever heard of it.

A post shared by Capital of Myanmar (@naypyidaw) on

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The government constructed a capital city in the middle of nowhere, fit out with a zoo, four golf courses, and lightning-fast wi-fi. It's rumoured to have cost around $4 billion to build. The deserted, 22-lane highways are said to have been constructed so in order for aircraft to land in the event of an anti-government protest.

All that, in a country which spends less than 0.4% of its GDP on national healthcare. That's the lowest health expenditure in the world.

Top Gear were allowed in by the government to film a special in 2015. And, understandably, were shocked by the desertion of the place.

"The roads are completely empty. And massive," presenter Jeremy Clarkson said on the show.

Popular car show Top Gear were allowed into the capital city to film a special in 2015. Image credit BBC.
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"The problem with most cities is that growth comes, and the city simply can't accommodate it - London, Rome, Paris - that is not going to happen here."

Clarkson goes on, "I think this must be the first city built entirely in anticipation of the future... but, the future hasn't arrived yet. So for now, the whole place is completely deserted."

Naypyidaw celebrates its 72nd 'Armed Forces Day' on March 27, 2017. Image via Getty.

Clarkson's outlook is somewhat positive. But it doesn't explain the looming sense of uneasiness the deeper we dig.

LISTEN: Travelling overseas? Try not to end up with Dengue Fever, like Rebecca Sparrow did. She shares how she got so sick with Robin Bailey, on The Well. 

What's the strangest place you've travelled to? What made it so strange? Let us know in the comments below.

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