Ava (Burmese, Ang-wa, a fish pond, so called because the original town was built around one), formerly the capital of the Burman empire, styled in the official documents of the country Ratanapura, the city of gems, situated on an island formed by the Irrawaddy river on the N., the Myit-nge on the E., and the Myit-tha, an offset of the Myit-nge, on the S., and on the 8. E. angle by a canal, through which the waters of the Myit-nge flow, dug to defend that face of the city; lat. 21° 58' N., lon. 95° 58' E. The population was formerly from 30,000 to 50,000, but is now much less. Ava is divided into upper and lower, or inner and outer towns. Exclusive of suburbs, the whole place is about 5 1/2 in. in circumference, and is enclosed with a brick wall 15 1/2 ft. high and 10 ft. thick; an embankment of earth supports this wall on the inner side, and there is a small ditch on the outside. The inner town includes the palaces, royal pagodas, and other public buildings. The houses of the outer town are for the most part wretched huts of bamboos and mats thatched with grass.
The residences of the chiefs and wealthy men are generally constructed of planks, and tiled; but the town is now decayed and desolate. - Ava was first made the capital about 13G4; and since then the Burman kings have shifted the capital eight or nine times. In 1839 every substantial edifice in Ava was destroyed by an earthquake; in consequence of which Monchobo, the birthplace of Alompra, and once the seat of the court, again became temporarily the capital of the Burman empire. Afterward both Amara-pura and Ava were honored by the preference of the kings, until within a few years, when the capital was fixed at Mandelay.