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WATCH: Welcome to Myanmar’s Empty Capital City, President Obama!

·Editor at Large
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Myanmar, also known as Burma, is one of the hottest countries to visit in 2015 — and underscoring that is President Obama’s visit to the Southeast Asian country. This is his second trip there in two years, in an attempt to encourage the country’s efforts to create a functioning democracy.

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Myanmar’s locals are staying in the countryside and avoiding the gleaming new capital city. (Photo: Paula Froelich)

But, after a recent visit to Myanmar’s brand-spanking-new capital, Naypyitaw, Yahoo Travel has a question: Will anyone actually be there to greet him when he arrives?

Related: Myanmar — A Photographic Journey Through the Golden Land

The empty highway in Naypyitaw (Photo: Paula Froelich)

In 2005, Myanmar uprooted its capital from Yangon to a tiny farming community 300 kilometers (185 miles) away, in the middle of nowhere. The thinking was that this was ostensibly a better place to rule the entire country. The public line is that from the center of the country, the ruling party can better govern (although with that reasoning, the capital of the United States should be Omaha, not Washington, D.C.).

One of the hotels in Naypyitaw (Photo: Paula Froelich)

Despite intense controversy, accusations of corruption, and a rumor that the capital was moved for “astrological reasons,” the Myanmar junta stayed the course, spending over $6 billion to make the move. Today, Naypyitaw sports a huge, golden replica of the famed Shwedagon Pagoda (just one foot shorter than the original), more five-star hotels than almost any other city in the world, gleaming new office buildings, mansions galore, parks, and golf courses everywhere. All this at a time when the average Burmese person makes $1,200 a year.

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Is anybody home? (Photo: Paula Froelich)

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But far from being the “hub of all life in the country,” the city is… empty. As in, you could do cartwheels down the middle of the 20-lane highway outside the Presidential Palace without fear of being hit by a donkey, much less a Mack truck. This leaves many locals to wonder: “Is this the perfect place from which to rule or the perfect fool’s folly?”

We just want to know how many people are going to be brought in to greet President Obama.

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