Myanmar

Myanmar

Overview
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Burma is bordered by China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 on the northeast, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 on the east, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 on the southeast, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 on the west, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 on the south. One-third of Burma's total perimeter of 1930 kilometres (1,199.2 mi) forms an uninterrupted coastline. At 676,578 km2 (261,227 sq mi), Burma is the 40th largest country in the world and the second largest country in Southeast Asia.
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Timeline

1824   First Burmese War: The British officially declare war on Burma.

1945   World War II: British troops liberate Mandalay, Burma.

1948   Burma (now Myanmar) joins the United Nations.

1962   In Burma, the army led by General Ne Win seizes power in a coup d'état.

1988   End of pro-democracy uprisings in Myanmar after a bloody military coup by the State Law and Order Restoration Council. Thousands, mostly monks and civilians (primarily students) are killed by the Tatmadaw.

1988   National League for Democracy is formed by Aung San Suu Kyi and various others to help fight against dictatorship in Myanmar.

1989   Burma's ruling junta puts opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

2004   Myanmar prime minister Khin Nyunt is ousted and placed under house arrest by the State Peace and Development Council on charges of corruption.

2008   Cyclone Nargis makes landfall in Myanmar killing over 130,000 people and leaving millions of people homeless.

 
Encyclopedia
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Burma is bordered by China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 on the northeast, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 on the east, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 on the southeast, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 on the west, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 on the south. One-third of Burma's total perimeter of 1930 kilometres (1,199.2 mi) forms an uninterrupted coastline. At 676,578 km2 (261,227 sq mi), Burma is the 40th largest country in the world and the second largest country in Southeast Asia. Burma is also the 24th most populous country in the world with over 58.8 million people.

Burma is home to some of the early civilizations of Southeast Asia including the Pyu and the Mon
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

. In the 9th century, the Burmans of the Kingdom of Nanzhao, entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom
Pagan Kingdom
The Pagan Kingdom or Pagan Dynasty was the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute the modern-day Burma...

 in 1057, the language
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

 and culture of these peoples slowly became dominant in the country. Sometime during this period, Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 became the predominant religion of the country. Following the Mongol invasion of Burma
Mongol invasion of Burma
After the conquest of China, Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty and the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, invaded the Pagan Kingdom of Burma in 1277 and 1283. However, the Yuan armies later again invaded Burma several times in order to assert supremacy over the territory.- Initial...

 in 1287, the kingdom of Pagan fell and a period of control by several warring states emerged. In the second half of the 16th century, the country was reunified by the Taungoo Dynasty which, for a brief period of time, was the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia
History of Southeast Asia
The history of Southeast Asia has been characterized as interaction between regional players and foreign powers. Each country is intertwined with all the others. For instance, the Malay empires of Srivijaya and Malacca covered modern day Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore while the Burmese, Thai,...

. The 18th century Konbaung Dynasty
Konbaung dynasty
The Konbaung Dynasty was the last dynasty that ruled Burma from 1752 to 1885. The dynasty created the second largest empire in Burmese history, and continued the administrative reforms begun by the Toungoo dynasty, laying the foundations of modern state of Burma...

 ruled over an area that includes modern Burma as well as Manipur in India. In the 19th century, following three Anglo-Burmese Wars, Burma was colonized by Britain.

The British rule brought several enduring social, economic, cultural and administrative changes that completely transformed the once-feudal society. Since independence in 1948, the country has been in one of the longest running  civil wars
Internal conflict in Burma
The internal conflict in Burma is a term that is employed to refer to the current violence in Burma that has existed since approximately April 1948 between the Burmese government and the various ethnic groups in the country. More recently, the conflict has been against the military regime that has...

 among the country's myriad ethnic groups that remains unresolved. From 1962 to 2011, the country was under military rule
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

 and in the process has become one of the least developed nations in the world. The military junta
State Peace and Development Council
The State Peace and Development Council was the official name of the military regime of Burma , which seized power in 1988. On 30 March 2011, Senior General Than Shwe signed a decree to officially dissolve the Council....

 was dissolved in 2011 following a general election in 2010
Burmese general election, 2010
A general election was held in Burma on 2010, in accordance with the new constitution which was approved in a referendum held in...

 and a civilian government installed.

Burma is a resource rich country. However, since the reformations of 1962
Burmese Way to Socialism
The Burmese Way to Socialism refers to the ideology of the Socialist regime in Burma, from 1962 to 1988, when the 1962 coup d'état was led by Ne Win and the military to remove U Nu from power...

, the Burmese economy has become one of the least developed in the world. Burma’s GDP stands at $42.953 billion and grows at an average rate of 2.9% annually – the lowest rate of economic growth in the Greater Mekong
Mekong
The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is , and it drains an area of , discharging of water annually....

 Subregion. Among others, the EU
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 have imposed economic sanctions on Burma. Burma's health care system is one of the worst in the world: The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 ranked Burma at 190th, the worst performing of all countries.

The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and several other organizations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country, including child labour, human trafficking
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

 and a lack of freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

.

Etymology


Both Burma as well as Myanmar are derived from the name of the majority Burmese Bamar
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

 ethnic group. Myanmar is considered to be the literary form of the name of the ethnic group, while Burma is derived from Bamar, the colloquial form of the name of the group. Depending on the register
Register (linguistics)
In linguistics, a register is a variety of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting. For example, when speaking in a formal setting an English speaker may be more likely to adhere more closely to prescribed grammar, pronounce words ending in -ing with a velar nasal...

 used the pronunciation would be "Bama" (bəmà), or "Myamah" (mjəmà). The name "Burma" has been in use in English since the time of British colonial rule.

In 1989, the military government officially changed
Geographical renaming
Geographical renaming is the changing of the name of a geographical feature or area. This can range from the uncontroversial change of a street name to a highly disputed change to the name of a country. Some names are changed locally but the new names are not recognised by other countries,...

 the English translations of many colonial-era names, including the name of the country to "Myanmar". The renaming remains a contested issue. Many opposition groups and countries continue to use Burma because they do not recognize the legitimacy of the ruling military government or its authority to rename the country. Various non-Burman ethnic groups choose not to recognise the name because of the association of the term Myanmar with the majority ethnic group, the Bamar
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

, rather than for the country.

Burma continues to be recognized as the official name of the country by several nations, including including Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States The United Nations uses Myanmar as do the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly abbreviated ASEAN rarely ), is a geo-political and economic organization of ten countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Since then, membership has...

 and the governments of Germany, India, Japan, and Russia,

Prehistory



Little is known with certainty about the early history Burma. Cave painting
Cave painting
Cave paintings are paintings on cave walls and ceilings, and the term is used especially for those dating to prehistoric times. The earliest European cave paintings date to the Aurignacian, some 32,000 years ago. The purpose of the paleolithic cave paintings is not known...

s and a Holocene
Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...

 assemblage in a hunter-gatherer
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

 cave site in Padah Lin
Padah-Lin Caves
Padah-Lin Caves are limestone caves located in Western Shan State, Taunggyi District, Burma near a path from Nyaunggyatt to Yebock, on a spur of the Nwalabo mountains within the Panlaung Reserved Forest...

 in Shan State show evidence of an early neolithic culture (circa 10,000 BC). Rice cultivation and chicken domestication were being practiced around 2,500 BC, and the production of iron tools dates to around 1500 BC. Of the modern Burmese, the Mon people
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

 are thought to migrated into the lower Irrawaddy valley in around 1500 BC and, by the mid-10th century BC, they were dominant in southern Burma. The Tibeto-Burman speaking Pyu arrived later in the 1st century BC, and established several city states – of which Sri Ksetra (modern Pyay
Pyay
Pyay is a town in the Bago Division in Burma. It has an estimated population of 123,800 . Pyay is positioned on the Ayeyarwady River and is northwest of Yangon....

) was the most powerful – in central Irrawaddy valley. The Pyu kingdoms entered a period of rapid decline in early 9th century AD when the powerful kingdom of Nanzhao (in present-day Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

) invaded the Irrawaddy valley several times.

Bagan (1044–1287)



The power gap left by the decline of the Pyu kingdoms was filled by the Bamar
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

, a Tibeto-Burman speaking group that migrated to the Irrawaddy Valley from the Kingdom of Nanzhao in the present-day Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

. These migrants established the Pagan Kingdom
Pagan Kingdom
The Pagan Kingdom or Pagan Dynasty was the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute the modern-day Burma...

 centered in Bagan
Bagan
Bagan , formerly Pagan, is an ancient city in the Mandalay Region of Burma. Formally titled Arimaddanapura or Arimaddana and also known as Tambadipa or Tassadessa , it was the capital of several ancient kingdoms in Burma...

 in 849, which, by the reign of Anawrahta
Anawrahta
Anawrahta Minsaw was the founder of the Pagan Empire. Considered the father of the Burmese nation, Anawrahta turned a small principality in the dry zone of Upper Burma into the first Burmese Empire that formed the basis of modern-day Burma...

 (1044–1077) ruled much of the territory that forms present-day Burma. It was in this period that many elements of modern Burmese culture were cemented. After Anawrahta's capture of the Mon capital of Thaton
Thaton
Thaton is a town in Mon State, in southern Myanmar on the Tenasserim plains. Thaton lies along the National Highway 8 and is also connected by the National Road 85.-Etymology:...

 In 1057, following the fall of Thaton
Thaton
Thaton is a town in Mon State, in southern Myanmar on the Tenasserim plains. Thaton lies along the National Highway 8 and is also connected by the National Road 85.-Etymology:...

 to Anawrahta, the Bamar adopted Theravada Buddhism from the Mons. The Burmese script was created, based on the Mon script
Mon language
The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by the Mon, who live in Burma and Thailand. Mon, like the related language Cambodian—but unlike most languages in Mainland Southeast Asia—is not tonal. Mon is spoken by more than a million people today. In recent years, usage of Mon has...

, during the reign of King Kyanzittha (1084–1112). Prosperous from trade, Bagan kings built many magnificent temples and pagoda
Pagoda
A pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common in Nepal, India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Some pagodas are used as Taoist houses of worship. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most commonly Buddhist,...

s throughout the country, many of which can still be seen today. The Pagan kingdom ended following the Mongol invasion of Burma
Mongol invasion of Burma
After the conquest of China, Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty and the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, invaded the Pagan Kingdom of Burma in 1277 and 1283. However, the Yuan armies later again invaded Burma several times in order to assert supremacy over the territory.- Initial...

 by the forces of Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 in 1277 and the sacking of Bagan in 1286.

Small kingdoms (1287–1531)


The Mongols could not stay for long in the searing Irrawaddy valley. But the Tai-Shan people from Yunnan who came down with the Mongols fanned out to the Irrawaddy valley, Shan states, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Siam
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 and Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

, and became powerful players in Southeast Asia.

The Bagan empire was irreparably broken up into several small kingdoms:
  • The Burman kingdom of Ava or Innwa
    Ava
    Innwa is a city in the Mandalay Division of Burma , situated just to the south of Amarapura on the Ayeyarwady River. Its formal title is Ratanapura , which means City of Gems in Pali. The name Innwa means mouth of the lake, which comes from in , meaning lake, and wa , which means mouth...

     (1364–1555), the successor state to three smaller kingdoms founded by Burmanised Shan kings, controlling Upper Burma
    Upper Burma
    Upper Burma refers to a geographic region of Burma , traditionally encompassing Mandalay and its periphery , or more broadly speaking, Kachin and Shan States....

     (without the Shan state
    Shan State
    Shan State is a state of Burma . Shan State borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south, and five administrative divisions of Burma in the west. Largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km², almost a quarter of the total...

    s)
  • The Mon kingdom of Hanthawady Pegu or Bago (1287–1540), founded by a Mon-ised Shan King Wareru (1287–1306), controlling Lower Burma
    Lower Burma
    Lower Burma is a geographic region of Burma and includes the low-lying Irrawaddy delta , as well as coastal regions of the country ....

     (without Taninthayi).
  • The Rakhine kingdom of Mrauk U
    Mrauk U
    Mrauk U is an archaeologically important town in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. It is also the capital of Mrauk-U Township, a sub region of the Sittwe District. It was the capital of Mrauk U Kingdom, the most important and powerful Rakhine kingdom from 1433 to 1784.-Geography:Mrauk U lies...

     (1434–1784), in the west.
  • Several Shan state
    Shan State
    Shan State is a state of Burma . Shan State borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south, and five administrative divisions of Burma in the west. Largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km², almost a quarter of the total...

    s in the Shan hills in the east and the Kachin Hills
    Kachin Hills
    The Kachin Hills are a heavily forested group of highlands in the extreme northeastern area of the Kachin State of Burma. It includes the Kumon Bum Mountains of which the highest peak is Bumhpa Bum with an elevation of .-Geography:...

     in the north while the north-western frontier of present Chin hills
    Chin Hills
    The Chin Hills are a range of mountains in Chin State, northwestern Burma , that extends northward into India's Manipur state. They are part of the Arakan Mountain Range . The highest peak in the Chin Hills is Nat Ma Taung, or Khonumthung , in southern Chin State, which reaches 3,053 meters...

     still disconnected yet.


This period was characterised by constant warfare between Ava and Bago, and to a lesser extent, Ava and the Shans. Ava briefly controlled Rakhine (1379–1430) and came close to defeating Bago a few times, but could never quite reassemble the lost empire. Nevertheless, Burmese culture entered a golden age. Hanthawady Bago prospered. Bago's Queen Shin Saw Bu (1453–1472) raised the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda to its present height.

By the late-15th century, constant warfare had left Ava greatly weakened. Its peripheral areas became either independent or autonomous. In 1486, King Minkyinyo (1486–1531) of Taungoo
Taungoo
-Administration:*Taungoo District Peace and Development Council - List of Six Townships*Taungoo Township Peace and Development Council*Taungoo Ward Peace and Development Council - 22 Wards*Taungoo Municipal*District and Township Immigration Dept...

 broke away from Ava and established a small independent kingdom. In 1527, Mohnyin (Shan: Mong Yang) Shans captured Ava, upsetting the delicate power balance that had existed for nearly two centuries. The Shans would rule Upper Burma until 1555.

Taungoo (1531–1752)



Reinforced by fleeing Burmans from Ava, the minor Burman Kingdom of Taungoo under its young, ambitious king Tabinshwehti
Tabinshwehti
Tabinshwehti was a king who unified Burma in 1539 and known as the founder of the Second Burmese Empire.Tabinshwehti succeeded his father Mingyinyo as ruler of the Toungoo dynasty in 1530...

 (1531–1551) defeated the more powerful Mon kingdom at Bago, reunifying all of Lower Burma
Lower Burma
Lower Burma is a geographic region of Burma and includes the low-lying Irrawaddy delta , as well as coastal regions of the country ....

 by 1540. Tabinshwehti's successor King Bayinnaung
Bayinnaung
Bayinnaung Kyawhtin Nawrahta was the third king of the Toungoo dynasty of Burma . During his 30-year reign, which has been called the "greatest explosion of human energy ever seen in Burma", Bayinnaung assembled the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia, which included much of modern day...

 (1551–1581) would go on to conquer Manipur
Manipur
Manipur is a state in northeastern India, with the city of Imphal as its capital. Manipur is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south and Assam to the west; it also borders Burma to the east. It covers an area of...

 (1556), Shan states
Shan State
Shan State is a state of Burma . Shan State borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south, and five administrative divisions of Burma in the west. Largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km², almost a quarter of the total...

 (1557), Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai sometimes written as "Chiengmai" or "Chiangmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province , a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna and was the tributary Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774 until 1939. It is...

 (1557), Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya kingdom
Ayutthaya was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Vietnamese , Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the walls of the...

 (1564, 1569) and Lan Xang
Lan Xang
The Lao kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Kao was established in 1354 by Fa Ngum.Exiled as an infant to Cambodia, Prince Fa Ngum of Xieng Dong Xieng Thong married a daughter of the Khmer king. In 1349 he set out from Angkor at the head of a 10,000-man army to establish his own country...

 (1574), bringing most of western South East Asia under his rule. Preparing to invade Rakhine State
Rakhine State
Rakhine State is a Burmese state. Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State in the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region in the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest. It is located approximately between...

, a maritime power controlling the entire coastline west of Rakhine Yoma, up to Chittagong
Chittagong
Chittagong ) is a city in southeastern Bangladesh and the capital of an eponymous district and division. Built on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, the city is home to Bangladesh's busiest seaport and has a population of over 4.5 million, making it the second largest city in the country.A trading...

 province in Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

.

Bayinnaung's massive empire unravelled soon after his death in 1581. Ayutthaya Siamese
Thai people
The Thai people, or Siamese, are the main ethnic group of Thailand and are part of the larger Tai ethnolinguistic peoples found in Thailand and adjacent countries in Southeast Asia as well as southern China. Their language is the Thai language, which is classified as part of the Kradai family of...

 had driven out the Burmese by 1593 and went on to take Tanintharyi
Tanintharyi
Tanintharyi or Taninthayi is a small town in Taninthayi Township, Myeik District, in the Tanintharyi Region of southwestern Burma . It is the administrative seat for the township. The town is located on the Great Tenasserim River which eventually enters the sea at Myeik...

. In 1599, Rakhine forces aided by Portuguese
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 mercenaries sacked the kingdom's capital Bago. Chief Portuguese
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 mercenary Filipe de Brito e Nicote (Burmese: Nga Zinga) promptly rebelled against his Rakhine masters and established Portuguese
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 rule in Thanlyin
Thanlyin
Thanlyin is a major port city of Myanmar, located across Bago River from the city of Yangon. Thanlyin Township comprises 17 quarters and 28 village tracts. It is home to the largest port in the country, Thilawa port.-History:...

 (Syriam), then the most important seaport in Burma. The country was in chaos.

The Burmese under King Anaukpetlun
Anaukpetlun
Anaukpetlun was the sixth king of Toungoo dynasty of Burma, and was largely responsible for restoring Burmese kingdom after it had famously collapsed at the end of 16th century. In his 22-year reign between 1606 and 1628, Anaukpetlun completed the reunification efforts of the Burmese kingdom begun...

 (1605–1628) regrouped and defeated the Portuguese
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 in 1611. Anaukpetlun reestablished a smaller reconstituted kingdom based in Ava covering Upper Burma, Lower Burma and Shan states (but without Rakhine or Taninthayi). After the reign of King Thalun (1629–1648), who rebuilt the war-torn country, the kingdom experienced a slow and steady decline for the next 100 years. The Mons successfully rebelled starting in 1740 with French help and Siamese
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 encouragement, broke away Lower Burma by 1747, and put an end to the House of Taungoo in 1752 when they took Ava
Ava
Innwa is a city in the Mandalay Division of Burma , situated just to the south of Amarapura on the Ayeyarwady River. Its formal title is Ratanapura , which means City of Gems in Pali. The name Innwa means mouth of the lake, which comes from in , meaning lake, and wa , which means mouth...

.

Konbaung (1752–1885)



King Alaungpaya
Alaungpaya
Alaungpaya was king of Burma from 1752 to 1760, and the founder of the Konbaung Dynasty. By his death in 1760, the former chief of a small village in Upper Burma had reunified all of Burma, subdued Manipur, recovered Lan Na, and driven out the French and the English who had given help to the...

 (1752–1760), established the Konbaung Dynasty
Konbaung dynasty
The Konbaung Dynasty was the last dynasty that ruled Burma from 1752 to 1885. The dynasty created the second largest empire in Burmese history, and continued the administrative reforms begun by the Toungoo dynasty, laying the foundations of modern state of Burma...

 in Shwebo
Shwebo
Shwebo is a city in Sagaing Division, Myanmar, located 113 km northwest of Mandalay between the Irrawaddy and the Mu rivers. The city, also called Ratanasingha , was the capital of Myanmar from 1752 to 1760 during the Konbaung period....

 in 1752. He founded Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

 in 1755. By his death in 1760, Alaungpaya had reunified the country. In 1767, King Hsinbyushin
Hsinbyushin
Hsinbyushin was king of the Konbaung dynasty of Burma from 1763 to 1776. The second son of the dynasty founder Alaungpaya is best known for his wars with China and Siam, and is considered the most militaristic king of the dynasty. His successful defense against four Chinese invasions preserved...

 (1763–1777) sacked Ayutthya
Ayutthaya kingdom
Ayutthaya was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Vietnamese , Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the walls of the...

. The Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 of China invaded four times from 1765 to 1769 without success. The Chinese invasions allowed the new Siamese kingdom based in Bangkok to repel the Burmese out of Siam
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 by the late 1770s.

King Bodawpaya
Bodawpaya
Bodawpaya was the sixth king of the Konbaung Dynasty of Burma. Born Maung Shwe Waing and later Badon Min, he was the fourth son of Alaungpaya, founder of the dynasty and the Third Burmese Empire. He was proclaimed king after deposing his nephew Phaungkaza Maung Maung, son of his oldest brother...

 (1782–1819) failed repeatedly to reconquer Siam in 1780s and 1790s. Bodawpaya did manage to capture the western kingdom of Rakhine State
Rakhine State
Rakhine State is a Burmese state. Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State in the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region in the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest. It is located approximately between...

, which had been largely independent since the fall of Bagan, in 1784. Bodawpaya also formally annexed Manipur
Manipur
Manipur is a state in northeastern India, with the city of Imphal as its capital. Manipur is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south and Assam to the west; it also borders Burma to the east. It covers an area of...

, a rebellion-prone protectorate, in 1813.

King Bagyidaw
Bagyidaw
Bagyidaw Bagyidaw's reign saw the First Anglo-Burmese War , which marked the beginning of the end of the highly militaristic Konbaung dynasty. Bagyidaw inherited the largest Burmese empire, second only to King Bayinnaung's, but also one that shared a long ill-defined borders with British India...

's (1819–1837) general Maha Bandula
Mahabandoola
General Maha Bandula was commander-in-chief of the Burmese military forces from 1821 until his death in 1825 in the First Anglo-Burmese War. Bandula was a key figure in the Konbaung dynasty's policy of expansionism in Manipur and Assam that ultimately resulted in the war and the beginning of the...

 put down a rebellion in Manipur
Manipur
Manipur is a state in northeastern India, with the city of Imphal as its capital. Manipur is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south and Assam to the west; it also borders Burma to the east. It covers an area of...

 in 1819 and captured then independent kingdom of Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

 in 1819 (again in 1821). The new conquests brought the Burmese adjacent to the British India. The British defeated the Burmese in the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826). Burma had to cede Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

, Manipur, Rakhine State
Rakhine State
Rakhine State is a Burmese state. Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State in the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region in the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest. It is located approximately between...

 (Arakan) and Tanintharyi
Tanintharyi
Tanintharyi or Taninthayi is a small town in Taninthayi Township, Myeik District, in the Tanintharyi Region of southwestern Burma . It is the administrative seat for the township. The town is located on the Great Tenasserim River which eventually enters the sea at Myeik...

 (Tenessarim).

In 1852, the British attacked a much weakened Burma during a Burmese palace power struggle. After the Second Anglo-Burmese War
Second Anglo-Burmese War
The Second Anglo-Burmese War was the second of the three wars fought between the Burmese and the British Empire during the 19th century, with the outcome of the gradual extinction of Burmese sovereignty and independence....

, which lasted 3 months, the British had captured the remaining coastal provinces: Ayeyarwady
Ayeyarwady Division
Ayeyarwady Region is a region of Myanmar, occupying the delta region of the Ayeyarwady River . It is bordered by Bago Region to the north, Bago Region and Yangon Region to the east, and the Bay of Bengal to the south and west...

, Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

 and Bago
Bago Division
Bago Region is an administrative region of Burma, located in the southern central part of the country. It is bordered by Magway Region and Mandalay Region to the north; Kayin State, Mon State and the Gulf of Martaban to the east; Yangon Region to the south and Ayeyarwady Region and Rakhine State...

, naming the territories as Lower Burma
Lower Burma
Lower Burma is a geographic region of Burma and includes the low-lying Irrawaddy delta , as well as coastal regions of the country ....

.

King Mindon
Mindon Min
Mindon Min was the penultimate king of Burma from 1853 to 1878. He was one of the most popular and revered kings of Burma. Under his half brother King Pagan, the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 ended with the annexation of Lower Burma by the British Empire. Mindon and his younger brother Kanaung...

 (1853–1878) founded Mandalay
Mandalay
Mandalay is the second-largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. Located north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, the city has a population of one million, and is the capital of Mandalay Region ....

 in 1859 and made it his capital. He skilfully navigated the growing threats posed by the competing interests of Britain and France. In the process, Mindon had to renounce Kayah
Kayah State
Kayah State is a state of Myanmar. Situated in eastern Myanmar, it is bounded on the north by Shan State, on the east by Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province, and on the south and west by Kayin State. It lies approximately between 18° 30' and 19° 55' north latitude and between 94°40' and 97° 93' east...

 (Karenni) states in 1875. His successor, King Thibaw
Thibaw Min
Thibaw Min was the last king of the Konbaung dynasty of Burma . His reign ended when Burma was defeated by the forces of the British Empire in the Third Anglo-Burmese War, on 29 November 1885, prior to its official annexation on 1 January 1886....

 (1878–1885), was largely ineffectual. In 1885, the British, alarmed by the French conquest of neighbouring Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, occupied Upper Burma
Upper Burma
Upper Burma refers to a geographic region of Burma , traditionally encompassing Mandalay and its periphery , or more broadly speaking, Kachin and Shan States....

. The Third Anglo-Burmese War
Third Anglo-Burmese War
The Third Anglo-Burmese War was a conflict that took place during 7–29 November 1885, with sporadic resistance and insurgency continuing into 1887. It was the final of three wars fought in the 19th century between the Burmese and the British...

 (1885) lasted a mere one month insofar as capturing the capital Mandalay
Mandalay
Mandalay is the second-largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. Located north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, the city has a population of one million, and is the capital of Mandalay Region ....

 was concerned. The Burmese royal family was exiled to Ratnagiri
Ratnagiri
Ratnāgiri is a port city on the Arabian Sea coast in Ratnagiri district in the southwestern part of Maharashtra, India. The district is a part of Konkan.The Sahyadri mountains border Ratnagiri to the east...

, India. British forces spent at least another four years pacifying the country: not only in the Burmese heartland but also in the Shan, Chin
Chin people
The Chin , known as the Kuki in Assam, are one of the ethnic groups in Burma. The Chins are found mainly in western part of Burma and numbered circa 1.5 million. They also live in nearby Indian states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur and Assam. Owing to Mizo influence and Baptist missionaries'...

 and Kachin
Kachin people
The Kachin people are a group of ethnic groups who largely inhabit the Kachin Hills in northern Burma's Kachin State and neighbouring areas of China and India. More than half of the Kachin people identify themselves as Christians - while a significant minority follow Buddhism and some also adhere...

 hill areas. By some accounts, minor insurrections did not end until 1896.

Colonial era (1886–1948)




The British conquest of Burma began in 1824 in response to a Burmese attempt to invade India. By 1886, and after two further wars, Britain had incorporated the entire country into the British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. "The dawn of 1886 saw the addition of still further territory to that vast expanse which owns the sovereignty of the Queen. The King of Burmah having persistently violated treaties, war was declared against him, and the Burmese capital of Mandalay was entered by the British forces, under General Prendergast
Harry Prendergast
General Sir Harry North Dalrymple Prendergast VC GCB was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

, on 28 November 1885". Burma was administered as a province of British India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony. To stimulate trade and facilitate changes, the British brought in Indians
Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin
A Non-Resident Indian is an Indian citizen who has migrated to another country, a person of Indian origin who is born outside India, or a person of Indian origin who resides permanently outside India. Other terms with the same meaning are overseas Indian and expatriate Indian...

 and Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

, who quickly displaced the Burmese in urban areas. To this day Rangoon and Mandalay
Mandalay
Mandalay is the second-largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. Located north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, the city has a population of one million, and is the capital of Mandalay Region ....

 have large ethnic Indian
Burmese Indians
Burmese Indians are a group of people of Indian subcontinental ethnicity who live in Myanmar . While Indians have lived in Burma for many centuries, most of the ancestors of the current Burmese Indian community emigrated to Burma from the start of British rule in the mid 19th century to the...

 populations. Railways and schools were built, as well as a large number of prisons, including the infamous Insein Prison
Insein Prison
Insein Prison is located in Yangon Division, near Yangon , the old capital of Myanmar. It is run by the military junta of Myanmar, the State Peace and Development Council, and used largely to repress political dissidents....

, then and now used for political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s. Burmese resentment was strong and was vented in violent riots that paralysed Yangon on occasion all the way until the 1930s.

Much of the discontent was caused by a disrespect for Burmese culture and traditions, for example, what the British termed the Shoe Question: the colonisers' refusal to remove their shoes upon entering Buddhist temples or other holy places. In October 1919, Eindawya Pagoda in Mandalay was the scene of violence when tempers flared after scandalised Buddhist monks attempted to physically expel a group of shoe-wearing British visitors. The leader of the monks was later sentenced to life imprisonment for attempted murder. Such incidents inspired the Burmese resistance to use Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 as a rallying point for their cause. Buddhist monks became the vanguards of the independence movement, and many died while protesting. One monk-turned-martyr was U Wisara
U Wisara
U Wisara was a Burmese monk, and a national hero of the nation of Myanmar. He was one of the prominent activists against the British rule of Burma. He was captured eventually by the British and put in jail where he died 166 days later after a hunger strike. In Yangon he is commemorated with the U...

, who died in prison after a 166-day hunger strike to protest a rule that forbade him from wearing his Buddhist robes while imprisoned.
During the colonial period, intermarriage between European male settlers and Burmese women, as well as between Anglo-Indians (who arrived with the British) and Burmese caused the birth of the Anglo-Burmese
Anglo-Burmese
The Anglo-Burmese, also known as the Anglo-Burmans, are a community of Eurasians of Burmese and European descent, and emerged as a distinct community through mixed relations between the British and other European settlers and the indigenous peoples of Burma from 1826 until 1948 when Burma gained...

 community. This influential community was to dominate the country during colonial rule and through the mid-1960s. On 1 April 1937, Burma became a separately administered territory, independent of the Indian administration, and elected Ba Maw
Ba Maw
Dr. Ba Maw was a Burmese political leader, active during the interwar and World War II period.-Early life and education:Ba Maw was born in Maubin. Ba Maw came from a distinguished family of mixed Mon-Burmese parentage which bred many scholars and lawyers...

 as the first Prime Minister and Premier of Burma from 1937 to February 1939. Ba Maw became an outspoken advocate for Burmese self-rule and he opposed the participation of Great Britain, and by extension Burma, in World War II. He resigned from the Legislative Assembly and was arrested for sedition. Many issues continued to divide the population, and laid the groundwork for the insurgencies to come after independence, later in 1948. In the 1940s, the Thirty Comrades
Thirty Comrades
The Thirty Comrades constituted the embryo of the modern Burmese army called the Burma Independence Army which was formed to fight for independence from Britain...

, commanded by Aung San
Aung San
Bogyoke Aung San ; 13 February 1915 – 19 July 1947) was a Burmese revolutionary, nationalist, and founder of the modern Burmese army, the Tatmadaw....

, founded the Burma Independence Army. The Thirty Comrades received training in Japan. During World War II, Burma became a major front-line in the Southeast Asian Theatre
South-East Asian theatre of World War II
The South-East Asian Theatre of World War II was the name given to the campaigns of the Pacific War in Burma , Ceylon, India, Thailand, Indochina, Malaya and Singapore. Conflict in the theatre began when the Empire of Japan invaded Thailand and Malaya from bases located in Indochina on December 8,...

. The British administration collapsed ahead of the advancing Japanese troops, jails and asylums were opened and Rangoon was deserted except for the many Anglo-Burmese and Indians who remained at their posts. A stream of some 300,000 refugees fled across the jungles into India; known as 'The Trek', all but 30,000 of those 300,000 arrived in India. During the Japanese occupation of Burma, Ba Maw was asked by the Japanese to head a provisional civilian administration to manage day-to-day administrative activities subordinate to the Japanese military administration. This Burmese Executive Administration was established on 1 August 1942. Initially the Japanese-led Burma Campaign
Burma Campaign
The Burma Campaign in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II was fought primarily between British Commonwealth, Chinese and United States forces against the forces of the Empire of Japan, Thailand, and the Indian National Army. British Commonwealth land forces were drawn primarily from...

 succeeded and the British were expelled from most of Burma, but the British counter-attacked using primarily troops of the British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

. By July 1945, the British had retaken the country.


Although many Burmese fought initially for the Japanese, some Burmese, mostly from the ethnic minorities, also served in the British Burma Army. In 1943, the Chin Levies and Kachin Levies
Kachin Levies
The Northern Kachin Levies were a British special force created in World War II in Burma. The Levies were made up of members of the Kachin people under the command of British officers and they fought the Japanese in the jungle of north Burma....

 were formed in the border districts of Burma still under British administration. The Burma Rifles
Burma Rifles
The Burma Rifles were a regiment of the British Indian Army created in 1917. The regiment re-used the name of an unrelated earlier unit, the 10th Regiment Madras Infantry, which evolved into the 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles....

 fought as part of the Chindits under General Orde Wingate from 1943 to 1945. Later in the war, the Americans created American-Kachin Rangers
OSS Detachment 101
Detachment 101 of the Office of Strategic Services operated in the China Burma India Theater of World War II. On January 17, 1946, it was awarded a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation by Dwight Eisenhower, who wrote, "The courage and fighting spirit displayed by its officers and men in...

 who also fought against the Japanese. Many others fought with the British Special Operations Executive
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

. The Burma Independence Army under the command of Aung San
Aung San
Bogyoke Aung San ; 13 February 1915 – 19 July 1947) was a Burmese revolutionary, nationalist, and founder of the modern Burmese army, the Tatmadaw....

 and the Arakan National Army fought with the Japanese from 1942–1944, but switched allegiance to the Allied side in 1945.

British soldiers waged a guerrilla war against Japanese forces in Burma. Chindits
Chindits
The Chindits were a British India "Special Force" that served in Burma and India in 1943 and 1944 during the Burma Campaign in World War II. They were formed into long range penetration groups trained to operate deep behind Japanese lines...

 were formed into long-range penetration groups trained to operate deep behind Japanese lines. A similar American unit, Merrill's Marauders
Merrill's Marauders
Merrill’s Marauders or Unit Galahad, officially named the 5307th Composite Unit , was a United States Army long range penetration special operations unit in the South-East Asian Theater of World War II which fought in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, or CBI...

, followed the Chindits into the jungle in 1943. Overall, the Japanese lost some 150,000 men in Burma. Only 1,700 prisoners were taken.

In 1947, Aung San became Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma, a transitional government. But in July 1947, political rivals assassinated Aung San
Aung San
Bogyoke Aung San ; 13 February 1915 – 19 July 1947) was a Burmese revolutionary, nationalist, and founder of the modern Burmese army, the Tatmadaw....

 and several cabinet members.

Democratic republic (1948–1962)



On 4 January 1948, the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma, with Sao Shwe Thaik
Sao Shwe Thaik
Sao Shwe Thaik was the first president of the Union of Burma and the last Saopha of Yawnghwe. His full royal style was Kambawsarahta Thiri Pawaramahawuntha Thudamaraza. He was a well-respected Shan political figure in Burma...

 as its first President and U Nu
U Nu
For other people with the Burmese name Nu, see Nu .U Nu was a leading Burmese nationalist and political figure of the 20th century...

 as its first Prime Minister. Unlike most other former British colonies and overseas territories, it did not become a member of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. A bicameral parliament was formed, consisting of a Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of deputies is the name given to a legislative body such as the lower house of a bicameral legislature, or can refer to a unicameral legislature.-Description:...

 and a Chamber of Nationalities
Chamber of Nationalities
The Chamber of Nationalities was the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Burma from 1948 to 1962. Under the 1947 Constitution, bills initiated and passed by the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, were to be sent to the Chamber of Nationalities for review and revision...

, and multi-party
Multi-party system
A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition, e.g.The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the United Kingdom formed in 2010. The effective number of parties in a multi-party system is normally...

 elections were held in 1951–1952
Burmese general election, 1951–1952
Burma's first general elections held as an independent state took place over several months between June 1951 and April 1952, due to internal conflict within the country....

, 1956
Burmese general election, 1956
Burma held its second general election on 27 April 1956 to vote for 202 out of 250 seats to the Burmese Chamber of Deputies; the remaining 48 were decided automatically as no opposition candidates were entered against candidates of the ruling Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League .The Anti-Fascist...

 and 1960
Burmese general election, 1960
Burma held its third general election on 6 February 1960 to decide which faction of the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League should take over from General Ne Win's interim administration, established in October 1958...

.

The geographical area Burma encompasses today can be traced to the Panglong Agreement
Panglong Agreement
The Panglong Agreement was reached between the Burmese government under Aung San and the Shan, Kachin, and Chin peoples on 12 February 1947. The agreement accepted "Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas" in principle and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the...

, which combined Burma Proper, which consisted of Lower Burma
Lower Burma
Lower Burma is a geographic region of Burma and includes the low-lying Irrawaddy delta , as well as coastal regions of the country ....

 and Upper Burma
Upper Burma
Upper Burma refers to a geographic region of Burma , traditionally encompassing Mandalay and its periphery , or more broadly speaking, Kachin and Shan States....

, and the Frontier Areas, which had been administered separately by the British.

In 1961, U Thant
U Thant
U Thant was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1961 to 1971. He was chosen for the post when his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, died in September 1961....

, then the Union of Burma's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and former Secretary to the Prime Minister, was elected Secretary-General of the United Nations, a position he held for ten years. Among the Burmese to work at the UN when he was Secretary-General was a young Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

, who went on to become winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

.

Ne Win years


Democratic rule ended in 1962 when General Ne Win
Ne Win
Ne Win was Burmese a politician and military commander. He was Prime Minister of Burma from 1958 to 1960 and 1962 to 1974 and also head of state from 1962 to 1981...

 led a military coup d'état. He ruled for nearly 26 years and pursued policies under the rubric of the Burmese Way to Socialism
Burmese Way to Socialism
The Burmese Way to Socialism refers to the ideology of the Socialist regime in Burma, from 1962 to 1988, when the 1962 coup d'état was led by Ne Win and the military to remove U Nu from power...

. Between 1962 and 1974, Burma was ruled by a revolutionary council headed by the general, and almost all aspects of society (business, media, production) were nationalized or brought under government control (even the Boy Scouts). In an effort to consolidate power, Ne Win and many other top generals resigned from the military and took civilian posts and, from 1974, instituted elections in a one-party system
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

.

Between 1974 and 1988, Burma was effectively ruled by Ne Win through the Burma Socialist Programme Party
Burma Socialist Programme Party
Burma Socialist Programme Party was formed by the Ne Win's military regime that seized power in 1962 and was the sole political party allowed to exist legally in Burma during the period of military rule from 1964 until its demise in the aftermath of the popular uprising of 1988.-History:The BSPP...

 (BSPP), which from 1964 until 1988 was the sole political party. During this period, Burma became one of the world's most impoverished countries. The Burmese Way to Socialism combined Soviet-style nationalisation and central planning with the governmental implementation of superstitious
Superstition
Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events....

 beliefs. Criticism was scathing, such as an article published in a February 1974 issue of Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

magazine describing the Burmese Way to Socialism as 'an amalgam of Buddhist and Marxist illogic'.

Almost from the beginning, there were sporadic protests against the military rule, many of which were organised by students, and these were almost always violently suppressed by the government. On 7 July 1962, the government broke up demonstrations at Rangoon University, killing 15 students. In 1974, the military violently suppressed anti-government protests at the funeral of U Thant
U Thant
U Thant was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, from 1961 to 1971. He was chosen for the post when his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, died in September 1961....

. Student protests in 1975, 1976 and 1977 were quickly suppressed by overwhelming force.

Ne Win's rise to power in 1962 and his relentless persecution of "resident aliens" (immigrant groups not recognised as citizens of the Union of Burma) led to an exodus/expulsion of some 300,000 Burmese Indians
Burmese Indians
Burmese Indians are a group of people of Indian subcontinental ethnicity who live in Myanmar . While Indians have lived in Burma for many centuries, most of the ancestors of the current Burmese Indian community emigrated to Burma from the start of British rule in the mid 19th century to the...

. They migrated to escape racial discrimination and wholesale nationalisation of private enterprise a few years later in 1964. The Anglo-Burmese at this time either fled the country or changed their names and blended in with the broader Burmese society.

A new constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma
Constitution of Burma
The Constitution of Burma ) has changed several times since the country became independent from the United Kingdom. Burma's third and current constitution was published in September 2008 after a referendum.-1947 Constitution:...

 was adopted in 1974.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya
Rohingya people
The Rohingya is a predominantly Muslim ethnic group of disputed origin who live in Arakan State, western Burma. The Rohingya population is mostly concentrated to the cities of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Akyab, Rathedaung and Kyauktaw.-Etymology:...

 Muslims fled Burma and many refugees inundated neighbouring Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 including 200,000 in 1978 as a result of the King Dragon operation in Arakan
King Dragon operation in Arakan
The King Dragon Operation, or Naga Min Sitsin Yae, was a large scale military operation in Arakan, Burma carried out during the rule of General Ne Win. The operation focused on rooting out Mujahid rebels in the area. who had been fighting for an Islamic state in Northern Rakhine state. However,...

.

Uprising of 1988 and the SPDC



In 1988, unrest over economic mismanagement and political oppression by the government led to widespread pro-democracy demonstrations throughout the country known as the 8888 Uprising
8888 Uprising
The 8888 Nationwide Popular Pro-Democracy Protests was a series of marches, demonstrations, protests, and riots in the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma...

. Security forces killed thousands of demonstrators, and General Saw Maung
Saw Maung
Senior General Saw Maung was the founder of the State Peace and Development Council in Myanmar. He served as their Chairman from 1988 to 1992.-Early life and career:...

 staged a coup d'état and formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). In 1989, SLORC declared martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 after widespread protests. The military government finalised plans for People's Assembly elections on 31 May 1989. SLORC changed the country's official English name from the "Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma" to the "Union of Myanmar" in 1989.

In May 1990, the government held free elections for the first time in almost 30 years. The National League for Democracy
National League for Democracy
The National League for Democracy is a Burmese political party founded on 27 September 1988. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi serves as its General Secretary. The party won a substantial parliamentary majority in the 1990 Burmese general election. However, the ruling military junta...

 (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

, won 392 out of a total 489 seats
Burmese general election, 1990
General elections were held in Burma on 27 May 1990, the first multi-party elections since 1960, after which the country had been ruled by a military dictatorship...

(i.e., 80% of the seats), but the election results were annulled by SLORC, which refused to step down. Led by Than Shwe
Than Shwe
Senior General Than Shwe is a Burmese military leader and politician who was chairman of the State Peace and Development Council from 1992 to 2011. During the period, he held key positions of power including commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces and head of Union Solidarity and...

 since 1992, the military regime has made cease-fire agreements with most ethnic guerilla groups. In 1992, SLORC unveiled plans to create a new constitution through the National Convention, which began 9 January 1993. In 1997, the State Law and Order Restoration Council was renamed the State Peace and Development Council
State Peace and Development Council
The State Peace and Development Council was the official name of the military regime of Burma , which seized power in 1988. On 30 March 2011, Senior General Than Shwe signed a decree to officially dissolve the Council....

 (SPDC).

On 23 June 1997, Burma was admitted into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly abbreviated ASEAN rarely ), is a geo-political and economic organization of ten countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Since then, membership has...

 (ASEAN). The National Convention continues to convene and adjourn. Many major political parties, particularly the NLD, have been absent or excluded, and little progress has been made. On 27 March 2006, the military junta, which had moved the national capital from Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

 to a site near Pyinmana
Pyinmana
Pyinmana ) is a logging town and sugarcane refinery center in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. The administrative capital of Myanmar was officially moved to a militarized greenfield site two miles west of Pyinmana on November 6, 2005. Pyinmana is approximately north of Yangon...

 in November 2005, officially named the new capital Naypyidaw
Naypyidaw
Naypyidaw is the capital city of Burma, also known as Myanmar. It is administered as the Naypyidaw Union Territory, as per the 2008 Constitution. On 6 November 2005, the administrative capital of Myanmar was officially moved to a greenfield 3.2 km west of Pyinmana, and approximately...

, meaning "city of the kings". The CIA World Factbook, however, still considers the capital to be Rangoon.

In November 2006, the International Labour Organization
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

 (ILO) announced it will be seeking at the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 "to prosecute members of the ruling Myanmar junta for crimes against humanity" over the continuous forced labour of its citizens by the military. According to the ILO, an estimated 800,000 people are subject to forced labour in Burma.
2007 Burmese anti-government protest

The 2007 Burmese anti-government protests
2007 Burmese anti-government protests
The 2007 Burmese anti-government protests were a series of anti-government protests that started in Burma on 15 August 2007...

 were a campaign of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

. The main immediate cause of the protests was an event in mid-August: the unannounced decision of the ruling junta
Military junta
A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

, the State Peace and Development Council, to remove fuel subsidies which caused the price of diesel and petrol
Gasoline
Gasoline , or petrol , is a toxic, translucent, petroleum-derived liquid that is primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasolines also contain...

 to suddenly rise as much as double, and the price of compressed natural gas
Compressed natural gas
Compressed natural gas is a fossil fuel substitute for gasoline , diesel, or propane/LPG. Although its combustion does produce greenhouse gases, it is a more environmentally clean alternative to those fuels, and it is much safer than other fuels in the event of a spill...

 for buses to increase fivefold in less than a week. The protest demonstrations were at first dealt with quickly and harshly by the junta, with dozens of protesters arrested and detained. Starting 18 September, the protests were led by thousands of Buddhist monks
Bhikkhu
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

, and those protests were allowed to proceed until a renewed government crackdown on 26 September. During the crack-down, there were rumours of disagreement within the Burmese armed forces, but none was confirmed. Some news reports referred to the protests as the Saffron Revolution.

During the 2007 anti-government protests a significant role was played by Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

, the leader of the opposition to the Burmese military government. Aung San Suu Kyi was under periods of house arrest from 1989–2010. In September 2007, hundreds of monks paid respects to her at the gate of her home, which was the first time in four years that people were able to see her in public. She was then given a second public appearance on 29 September, when she was allowed to leave house arrest briefly and meet with a UN envoy trying to persuade the junta to ease its crackdown against a pro-democracy uprising, to which the Burmese government reluctantly agreed.

World governments remain divided on how to deal with the military junta. Calls for further sanctions by Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and France are opposed by neighbouring countries; in particular, China has stated its belief that "sanctions or pressure will not help to solve the issue". There is some disagreement over whether sanctions are the most effective approach to dealing with the junta, such as from a Cato Institute study and from prominent Burmese such as Thant Myint-U
Thant Myint-U
Thant Myint-U is an historian and a past Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is also the author two bestselling and critically acclaimed books, The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma and Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia .He was born in...

 (a former senior UN official and Cambridge historian), who have opined that sanctions may have caused more harm than good to the Burmese people.

Dissolution of SPDC and constitutional referendum (2008–present)


On 7 February 2008, SPDC announced that a referendum for the Constitution would be held and Elections by 2010. The Burmese constitutional referendum, 2008
Burmese constitutional referendum, 2008
A constitutional referendum was held in Burma on 10 May 2008 according to an announcement by the State Peace and Development Council in February 2008. According to the military government, the new Constitution of Burma will ensure the creation of a "discipline-flourishing democracy"...

 was held on 10 May and promised a "discipline-flourishing democracy" for the country in the future.
On 13 August 2010, Junta announced the election date for 2010 would be 7 November. A new flag was adopted and the official name of the country changed to "Republic of the Union of Myanmar", replacing the old "Union of Myanmar" from 1989. Observers described the election day of 2010 as mostly peaceful, though there were alleged irregularities in polling stations. There was an official turnout of 77%.
On 9 November 2010, Burma's ruling junta stated that the Union Solidarity and Development Party
Union Solidarity and Development Party
The Union Solidarity and Development Party , which was registered on 2 June 2010 by the Union Election Commission as a political party, is the successor to the Burmese government's mass organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association. It is headed by Burmese President Thein Sein and...

 won 80% of the votes. This claim is widely disputed by pro-democracy opposition groups, asserting that the military regime engaged in rampant fraud to achieve its result. International communities concerned over Burma that skirmishes, due to discontent with the elections, could erupt into civil war. (see 2010-11 Burma border clashes).

On 3 May 2008, Cyclone Nargis
Cyclone Nargis
Cyclone Nargis , was a strong tropical cyclone that caused the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Burma. The cyclone made landfall in Burma on Friday, May 2, 2008, causing catastrophic destruction and at least 138,000 fatalities...

 devastated the country when winds of up to 215 km/h (135 mph) touched land in the densely populated, rice-farming delta of the Irrawaddy Division. It was the worst natural disaster
Natural disaster
A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard . It leads to financial, environmental or human losses...

 in Burmese history. Reports estimated that more than 200,000 people were dead or missing, and damage totaled to 10 billion dollars (USD). The World Food Programme
World Food Programme
The World Food Programme is the food aid branch of the United Nations, and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger worldwide. WFP provides food, on average, to 90 million people per year, 58 million of whom are children...

 reported, "Some villages have been almost totally eradicated and vast rice-growing areas are wiped out." The United Nations projects that as many as 1 million were left homeless; and the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 "has received reports of malaria outbreaks in the worst-affected area." Yet in the critical days following this disaster, Burma's isolationist regime hindered recovery efforts by delaying the entry of United Nations planes delivering medicine, food, and other supplies. The government's action was described by the United Nations as "unprecedented."

In early August 2009, a conflict known as the Kokang incident broke out in Shan State
Shan State
Shan State is a state of Burma . Shan State borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south, and five administrative divisions of Burma in the west. Largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km², almost a quarter of the total...

 in northern Burma. For several weeks, junta troops fought against ethnic minorities including the Han Chinese
Kokang people
The Kokang people are an ethnic group of Burma . They are Mandarin-speaking Han Chinese living in Kokang Special Region. In 1997, it was estimated that the Kokang people, together with more recently-immigrated Yunnanese, constituted 30–40 percent of Burma's ethnic Chinese population.The...

, Va
Va people
The Va nationality lives mainly in Northern Burma, in the northern part of Shan and eastern Kachin States, near and along the border with China. Their defacto capital is Pangkham in the unofficial Wa State in North Eastern Shan state. The majority of the Va live in Burma...

, and Kachin. From 8–12 August, the first days of the conflict, as many as 10,000 Burmese civilians fled to Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 province in neighbouring China.

Geography





Burma, which has a total area of 678500 square kilometres (261,970.3 sq mi), is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, and the 40th-largest in the world. It lies between latitudes
9th parallel north
The 9th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 9 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 29°N
29th parallel north
The 29th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 29 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 92°
92nd meridian east
The meridian 92° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 102°E
102nd meridian east
The meridian 102° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. As of February 2011, Burma constituted of 14 states and regions, 67 districts, 330 townships, 64 sub‐townships, 377 towns, 2914 Wards, 14220 village tracts and 68290 villages.

It is bordered to the northwest by Chittagong Division of Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 and Mizoram
Mizoram
Mizoram is one of the Seven Sister States in North Eastern India, sharing borders with the states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur and with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Burma. Mizoram became the 23rd state of India on 20 February 1987. Its capital is Aizawl. Mizoram is located in the...

, Manipur, Nagaland
Nagaland
Nagaland is a state in the far north-eastern part of India. It borders the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam to the north, Burma to the east and Manipur to the south. The state capital is Kohima, and the largest city is Dimapur...

 and Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is a state of India, located in the far northeast. It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Burma in the east, Bhutan in the west, and the People's Republic of China in the north. The majority of the territory is claimed by...

 of India to the northwest. Its north and northeast border straddles the Tibet
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

 and Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 regions of China for a Sino-Burman border total of 2185 kilometres (1,357.7 mi). It is bounded by Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 to the southeast. Burma has 1930 kilometres (1,199.2 mi) of contiguous coastline along the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 and Andaman Sea
Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea or Burma Sea is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands, India; it is part of the Indian Ocean....

 to the southwest and the south, which forms one quarter of its total perimeter.

In the north, the Hengduan Shan
Hengduan Shan
The Hengduan Mountains is a large mountainous region in southwest China , forming the south-eastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and adjacent from the west to the Sichuan Basin....

 mountains form the border with China. Hkakabo Razi
Hkakabo Razi
Hkakabo Razi is Southeast Asia's highest mountain, located in the northern Myanmar state of Kachin. It lies in an outlying subrange of the Greater Himalayan mountain system. The mountain lies on the border tri-point among Myanmar, China, and India....

, located in Kachin State
Kachin State
Kachin State , is the northernmost state of Burma. It is bordered by China to the north and east; Shan State to the south; and Sagaing Division and India to the west. It lies between north latitude 23° 27' and 28° 25' longitude 96° 0' and 98° 44'. The area of Kachin State is . The capital of the...

, at an elevation of 5881 metres (19,295 ft), is the highest point in Burma. Three mountain ranges, namely the Rakhine Yoma, the Bago Yoma, and the Shan Plateau
Shan Plateau
The Shan Plateau, in the Shan State of eastern Burma, is the primary source of the nation's sapphires, rubies and other gems for which Burma is famous. The plateau averages about 3,000 feet in elevation, and is sparsely populated. The Salween River runs through the region, which is also a principal...

 exist within Burma, all of which run north-to-south from the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

. The mountain chains divide Burma's three river systems, which are the Irrawaddy, Salween (Thanlwin)
Salween River
The Salween is a river, about long, that flows from the Tibetan Plateau into the Andaman Sea in Southeast Asia. It drains a narrow and mountainous watershed of that extends into the countries China, Burma and Thailand. Steep canyon walls line the swift, powerful and undammed Salween, one of the...

, and the Sittaung rivers. The Irrawaddy River, Burma's longest river, nearly 2170 kilometres (1,348 mi) long, flows into the Gulf of Martaban
Gulf of Martaban
The Gulf of Martaban is an arm of the Andaman Sea in the southern part of Burma. The gulf is named after the port city of Mottama . The Salween Sittaung and Yangon rivers empty into it....

. Fertile plains exist in the valleys between the mountain chains. The majority of Burma's population lives in the Irrawaddy valley, which is situated between the Rakhine Yoma and the Shan Plateau.

Climate




Much of the country lies between the Tropic of Cancer
Tropic of Cancer
The Tropic of Cancer, also referred to as the Northern tropic, is the circle of latitude on the Earth that marks the most northerly position at which the Sun may appear directly overhead at its zenith...

 and the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

. It lies in the monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 region of Asia, with its coastal regions receiving over 5000 mm (196.9 in) of rain annually. Annual rainfall
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 in the delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

 region is approximately 2500 mm (98.4 in), while average annual rainfall in the Dry Zone, which is located in central Burma, is less than 1000 mm (39.4 in). Northern regions of the country are the coolest, with average temperatures of 21 °C (69.8 °F). Coastal and delta regions have an average maximum temperature of 32 °C (89.6 °F).

Wildlife


The country's slow economic growth has contributed to the preservation of much of its environment and ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s. Forests, including dense tropical growth and valuable teak
Teak
Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis and its wood products. Tectona grandis is native to south and southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Burma, but is naturalized and cultivated in many countries, including those in Africa and the...

 in lower Burma, cover over 49% of the country, including areas of acacia
Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

, bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

, ironwood
Hopea odorata
Hopea odorata, or takian, is a species of plant in the Dipterocarpaceae family. It is found in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. In Thailand it is believed to be inhabited by a spirit, Lady Takian....

 and michelia champaca
Michelia champaca
Magnolia champaca is a large evergreen tree, native to the Indomalaya ecozone . It is best known for its strongly fragrant yellow or white flowers. It is, however, primarily cultivated for its timber, and is also used in urban landscaping...

. Coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

 and betel palm
Areca catechu
Areca catechu is the areca palm or areca nut palm, , a species of palm which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. The palm is believed to have originated in either Malaysia or the Philippines...

 and rubber have been introduced. In the highlands of the north, oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

, pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 and various rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

s cover much of the land. Heavy logging since the new 1995 forestry law went into effect has seriously reduced forest acreage and wildlife habitat. The lands along the coast support all varieties of tropical fruits and once had large areas of mangroves although much of the protective mangroves have disappeared. In much of central Burma (the Dry Zone), vegetation is sparse and stunted.

Typical jungle
Jungle
A Jungle is an area of land in the tropics overgrown with dense vegetation.The word jungle originates from the Sanskrit word jangala which referred to uncultivated land. Although the Sanskrit word refers to "dry land", it has been suggested that an Anglo-Indian interpretation led to its...

 animals, particularly tigers and leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

s, occur sparsely in Burma. In upper Burma, there are rhinoceros
Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros , also known as rhino, is a group of five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia....

, wild buffalo
Bubalus
Bubalus is a genus of bovines, whose English name is buffalo. Species that belong to this genus are:* Subgenus Bubalus** Water Buffalo, Bubalus bubalis*** Carabao, Bubalus bubalis carabanesis...

, wild boars, deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

, antelope
Antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...

, and elephants, which are also tamed or bred in captivity for use as work animals, particularly in the lumber industry
Timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

. Smaller mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s are also numerous, ranging from gibbon
Gibbon
Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae . The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates , Hoolock , Nomascus , and Symphalangus . The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related...

s and monkey
Monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...

s to flying foxes and tapir
Tapir
A Tapir is a large browsing mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. There are four species of Tapirs: the Brazilian Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, Baird's Tapir and the Mountain...

s. The abundance of birds is notable with over 800 species, including parrots, peafowl
Peafowl
Peafowl are two Asiatic species of flying birds in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae, best known for the male's extravagant eye-spotted tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, the female a peahen, and the offspring peachicks. The adult female...

, pheasant
Pheasant
Pheasants refer to some members of the Phasianinae subfamily of Phasianidae in the order Galliformes.Pheasants are characterised by strong sexual dimorphism, males being highly ornate with bright colours and adornments such as wattles and long tails. Males are usually larger than females and have...

s, crow
Crow
Crows form the genus Corvus in the family Corvidae. Ranging in size from the relatively small pigeon-size jackdaws to the Common Raven of the Holarctic region and Thick-billed Raven of the highlands of Ethiopia, the 40 or so members of this genus occur on all temperate continents and several...

s, heron
Heron
The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae. There are 64 recognised species in this family. Some are called "egrets" or "bitterns" instead of "heron"....

s, and paddy
Paddy field
A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing rice and other semiaquatic crops. Paddy fields are a typical feature of rice farming in east, south and southeast Asia. Paddies can be built into steep hillsides as terraces and adjacent to depressed or steeply sloped features such...

birds. Among reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

 species there are crocodile
Crocodile
A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

s, gecko
Gecko
Geckos are lizards belonging to the infraorder Gekkota, found in warm climates throughout the world. They range from 1.6 cm to 60 cm....

s, cobra
Cobra
Cobra is a venomous snake belonging to the family Elapidae. However, not all snakes commonly referred to as cobras are of the same genus, or even of the same family. The name is short for cobra capo or capa Snake, which is Portuguese for "snake with hood", or "hood-snake"...

s, Burmese python
Burmese Python
The Burmese Python is the largest subspecies of the Indian Python and one of the 6 largest snakes in the world, native to a large variation of tropic and subtropic areas of Southern- and Southeast Asia. They are often found near water and are sometimes semi-aquatic, but can also be found in trees...

s, and turtles. Hundreds of species of freshwater
Freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 fish are wide-ranging, plentiful and are very important food sources. For a list of protected areas, see List of protected areas in Burma.

Government and politics



The constitution of Burma, its third since independence, was drafted by its military rulers and published in September 2008. The country is governed as a presidential republic
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 with a bicameral legislature, with a portion of legislatures appointed by the military and others elected in general elections. The current head of state being Thein Sein
Thein Sein
Thein Sein is a Burmese politician and military figure who has been president of Myanmar since March 2011. Previously, he was Prime Minister from 2007 until 2011...

, who was inaugurated as President
President of Burma
The President of Burma is the head of state and head of government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and leads the executive branch of the Burmese government, and heads the Cabinet of Burma. The president is elected by members of parliament, not by the general population. The Presidential...

 on 30 March 2011.

The legislature, called the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw
Pyidaungsu Hluttaw
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw is the national-level bicameral legislature of Myanmar established by the 2008 National Constitution...

, is bicameral and made up of two houses: The 224-seat upper house Amyotha Hluttaw
Amyotha Hluttaw
The Amyotha Hluttaw is the upper house of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the bicameral legislature of Burma . It consists of 224 member of which 168 are directly elected and 56 appointed by the Myanmar Armed Forces. The last elections to the Amyotha Hluttaw were held in November 2010...

 ( House of Nationalities) and the 440-seat lower house Pyithu Hluttaw
Pyithu Hluttaw
The Pyithu Hluttaw is the lower house of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the bicameral legislature of Burma . It consists of 440 members of which 330 are directly elected and 110 appointed by the Myanmar Armed Forces. The last elections to the Pyithu Hluttaw were held in November 2010...

 ( House of Representatives). The upper house consists of 224 member of which 168 are directly elected and 56 are appointed by the Burmese Armed Forces while the lower house consists of 440 members of which 330 are directly elected and 110 are appointed by the armed forces. The major political parties are the National Democratic Force
National Democratic Force
The National Democratic Force is a Burmese political party formed by former members of the National League for Democracy , who chose to contest the 2010 general election in Burma . The party's chairman is Than Nyein. Its headquarters are in Tamwe Township, Yangon.The party was among three major...

 and the two backed by the military: the National Unity Party
National Unity Party (Burma)
The National Unity Party is a political party in Burma . It was formed by the military junta as well as members of the Burma Socialist Programme Party to take part in the general election of May 27, 1990. The party was defeated by the National League for Democracy. NUP's headquarters are in Bahan...

, and the Union Solidarity and Development Party
Union Solidarity and Development Party
The Union Solidarity and Development Party , which was registered on 2 June 2010 by the Union Election Commission as a political party, is the successor to the Burmese government's mass organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association. It is headed by Burmese President Thein Sein and...

. The National League for Democracy
National League for Democracy
The National League for Democracy is a Burmese political party founded on 27 September 1988. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi serves as its General Secretary. The party won a substantial parliamentary majority in the 1990 Burmese general election. However, the ruling military junta...

, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

, was declared illegal before the 2010 elections for failing to register for the elections.

Burma's army-drafted constitution was approved in a referendum
Burmese constitutional referendum, 2008
A constitutional referendum was held in Burma on 10 May 2008 according to an announcement by the State Peace and Development Council in February 2008. According to the military government, the new Constitution of Burma will ensure the creation of a "discipline-flourishing democracy"...

 in May 2008. The results, 92.4% of the 22 million voters with an official turnout of 99%, are considered suspect by many international observers and by the National league of democracy with reports of widespread fraud, ballot stuffing
Ballot stuffing
Ballot stuffing is the illegal act of one person submitting multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is permitted. The name originates from the earliest days of this practice in which people literally did stuff more than one ballot in a ballot box at the same time...

, and voter intimidation.

The elections of 2010
Burmese general election, 2010
A general election was held in Burma on 2010, in accordance with the new constitution which was approved in a referendum held in...

 resulted in a victory for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party
Union Solidarity and Development Party
The Union Solidarity and Development Party , which was registered on 2 June 2010 by the Union Election Commission as a political party, is the successor to the Burmese government's mass organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association. It is headed by Burmese President Thein Sein and...

 and various foreign observers questioned the fairness of the elections. One criticism of the election was that only government sanctioned political parties were allowed to contest in it and the popular National League for Democracy
National League for Democracy
The National League for Democracy is a Burmese political party founded on 27 September 1988. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi serves as its General Secretary. The party won a substantial parliamentary majority in the 1990 Burmese general election. However, the ruling military junta...

 was declared illegal and is still barred from political activities. However, immediately following the elections, the government ended the house arrest of the democracy advocate and leader of the National League for Democracy
National League for Democracy
The National League for Democracy is a Burmese political party founded on 27 September 1988. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi serves as its General Secretary. The party won a substantial parliamentary majority in the 1990 Burmese general election. However, the ruling military junta...

, Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

. and her ability to move freely around the country is considered an important test of the military's movement toward more openness. After unexpected reforms in 2011, NLD senior leaders have unanimously decided to register for the by-election.

Burma has a high level of corruption, and ranks 176th out of 180 countries worldwide on the Corruption Perceptions Index
Corruption Perceptions Index
Since 1995, Transparency International publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private...

 with a rating of 1.4 out of 10 (10 being least corrupt and 0 being highly corrupt) as of 2010.

Human rights


Human rights in Burma are a long-standing concern for the international community and human rights organizations. Members of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and major international human rights organizations have issued repeated and consistent reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Burma. The United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 has repeatedly called on the Burmese Military Junta to respect human rights and in November 2009 the General Assembly adopted a resolution "strongly condemning the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms" and calling on the Burmese Military Regime "to take urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."
International human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

, Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

  and the American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association for the Advancement of Science
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education and science outreach for the...

 have repeatedly documented and condemned widespread human rights violations. There is consensus that the military regime in Burma is one of the world's most repressive and abusive regimes.They have claimed that there is no independent judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 in Burma. Forced labour, human trafficking
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

, and child labour are common. The military is also notorious for rampant use of sexual violence as an instrument of control, including allegations of systematic rapes and taking of sex slaves
Sexual slavery
Sexual slavery is when unwilling people are coerced into slavery for sexual exploitation. The incidence of sexual slavery by country has been studied and tabulated by UNESCO, with the cooperation of various international agencies...

 as porters for the military. A women's pro-democracy movement has formed in exile, largely along the Thai border and in Chiang Mai. There is a growing international movement to defend women's human rights issues.

The Freedom in the World 2011 report by Freedom House
Freedom House
Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

 notes that "The military junta has long ruled by decree and controlled all executive, legislative, and judicial powers; suppressed nearly all basic rights; and committed human rights abuses with impunity.The junta carefully rigged the electoral framework surrounding the 2010 national elections, which were neither free nor fair. The country’s more than 2,100 political prisoners included about 429 members of the NLD, the victors in the 1990 elections." Evidence has been gathered suggesting that the Burmese regime has marked certain ethnic minorities such as the Karen
Karen people
The Karen or Kayin people , are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma . The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people...

 for extermination or 'Burmisation'. This, however, has received little attention from the international community since it has been more subtle and indirect than the mass killings in places like Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

.

However, since the transition to new government in August 2011, Burma's human rights record has been improving according to the Crisis Group. The government has assembled a National Human Rights Commission consisted of 15 members from various backgrounds. Several activists in exile including Thee Lay Thee Anyeint members, have returned to Burma after President Thein Sein’s offer to expatriates to return home to work for national development. In an address to the United Nations Security Council in 22 September 2011, Burma's Foreign Minister Wanna Maung Lwin confirmed the release of prisoners in near future. The government also relaxes reporting laws although still highly restrictive. In September 2011, several banned websites including Youtube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

, Democratic Voice of Burma
Democratic Voice of Burma
The Democratic Voice of Burma is a non-profit media organization based in Oslo, Norway. Run by Burmese expatriates, it makes radio and television broadcasts aimed at providing uncensored news and information about Burma , the country's military regime, and its political opposition.In July 1992,...

 and Voice of America
Voice of America
Voice of America is the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government. It is one of five civilian U.S. international broadcasters working under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors . VOA provides a wide range of programming for broadcast on radio...

 have been unblocked.

A 2011 report by the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations
Hauser center for nonprofit organizations
The Harvard University Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, located in Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, promotes teaching, scholarship, and service to the nonprofit sector across the university. The Center's concerns include philanthropy, nonprofit organizations,...

 found that while constrained by donor restrictions on contact with the Myanmar government, international humanitarian Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) see opportunities for effective advocacy with government officials, especially at the local level. At the same time, International NGOs are mindful of the ethical quandary of how to work with the government without bolstering or appeasing it.

Burma's government spends the least percentage of its GDP on health care of any country in the world, and international donor organisations give less to Burma, per capita, than any other country except India. According to the report named "Preventable Fate", published by Doctors without Borders, 25,000 Burmese AIDS patients died in 2007, deaths that could largely have been prevented by Anti Retroviral Therapy drugs and proper treatment.

Administrative divisions (regions and states)


The country is divided into seven states and seven regions , formerly called divisions. The announcement on the renaming of division to regions was made on 20 August 2010. Regions are predominantly Bamar
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

 (that is, mainly inhabited by the dominant ethnic group). States, in essence, are regions which are home to particular ethnic minorities. The administrative divisions are further subdivided into districts
Districts of Burma
Burma's states and regions are divided into 67 districts , which in turn are subdivided into townships then towns, wards and villages.-Kachin State:*Bhamo District*Mohnyin District*Myitkyina District*Putao District-Kayin State:*Hpa-an District...

, which are further subdivided into townships, wards, and villages.

Below are the number of districts, townships, cities/towns, wards, village Groups and villages in each divisions and states of Burma as of 31 December 2001:
No. State/Region Districts Townships Cities/Towns Wards Village groups Villages
1 Kachin State
Kachin State
Kachin State , is the northernmost state of Burma. It is bordered by China to the north and east; Shan State to the south; and Sagaing Division and India to the west. It lies between north latitude 23° 27' and 28° 25' longitude 96° 0' and 98° 44'. The area of Kachin State is . The capital of the...

3 18 20 116 606 2630
2 Kayah State
Kayah State
Kayah State is a state of Myanmar. Situated in eastern Myanmar, it is bounded on the north by Shan State, on the east by Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province, and on the south and west by Kayin State. It lies approximately between 18° 30' and 19° 55' north latitude and between 94°40' and 97° 93' east...

2 7 7 29 79 624
3 Kayin State
Kayin State
Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

3 7 10 46 376 2092
4 Chin State
Chin State
Chin State is a state located in western Burma . The Chin State is bordered by Rakhine State in the south, Bangladesh in south-west, Sagaing Division and Magway Division in the east, Indian state of Manipur in the north and Indian state of Mizoram in the west. The Chin ethnic group make up the...

2 9 9 29 475 1355
5 Sagaing Region 8 37 37 171 1769 6095
6 Tanintharyi Region 3 10 10 63 265 1255
7 Bago Region 4 28 33 246 1424 6498
8 Magway Region 5 25 26 160 1543 4774
9 Mandalay Region 7 31 29 259 1611 5472
10 Mon State
Mon State
Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar. It is sandwiched between Kayin State on the east, the Andaman Sea on the west, Bago Region on the north and Tanintharyi Region on the south, and has a short border with Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province at its south-eastern tip. The land area is...

2 10 11 69 381 1199
11 Rakhine State
Rakhine State
Rakhine State is a Burmese state. Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State in the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region in the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest. It is located approximately between...

4 17 17 120 1041 3871
12 Yangon Region 4 45 20 685 634 2119
13 Shan State
Shan State
Shan State is a state of Burma . Shan State borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south, and five administrative divisions of Burma in the west. Largest of the 14 administrative divisions by land area, Shan State covers 155,800 km², almost a quarter of the total...

11 54 54 336 1626 15513
14 Ayeyarwady Region 6 26 29 219 1912 11651
Total 63 324 312 2548 13742 65148

Foreign relations and military


The country's foreign relations
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

, particularly with Western nations, have been strained. The United States has placed a ban on new investments by U.S. firms, an import ban, and an arms embargo on the Union of Myanmar, as well as frozen military assets in the United States because of the military regime's ongoing human rights abuses, the long-term detention of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

 (concluded on 13 November 2010), and refusal to honour the election results of the 1990 People's Assembly election. Similarly, the European Union has placed sanctions on Burma, including an arms embargo, cessation of trade preference
Trade Preference
A Trade Preference is when one country prefers buying goods from some other country more than it would from other countries. It grants special support to one country over another. It is the opposite of a Trade Prohibition.-See also:*Trade Mandate...

s, and suspension of all aid with the exception of humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian crises including natural disaster and man-made disaster. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity...

. U.S. and European government sanctions against the military government, coupled with boycotts and other direct pressure on corporations by supporters of the democracy movement, have resulted in the withdrawal from the country of most U.S. and many European companies. However, following the government reforms in 2011 and the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the US announced several initiatives, including removal of some curbs on foreign aid and the possibility of full diplomatic relations, aimed at re-engaging with Burma.

Despite Western isolation, Asian corporations have generally remained willing to continue investing in the country and to initiate new investments, particularly in natural resource
Natural resource
Natural resources occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity and geodiversity existent in various ecosystems....

 extraction. The country has close relations with neighbouring India and China with several Indian and Chinese companies operating in the country. There remains active debate as to the extent to which the American-led sanctions have had adverse effects on the civilian population or on the military rulers. Burma has also received extensive military aid from India and China in the past. According to some estimates, Burma has received more than US$200 million in military aid from India. Under India's Look East policy
Look East policy
India's "Look East" Policy, which was initiated in 1991, marked a strategic shift in India’s perspective of the world. It was developed and enacted during the government of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and rigorously pursued by the successive governments of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan...

, fields of cooperation between India and Burma include remote sensing
Remote sensing
Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon, without making physical contact with the object. In modern usage, the term generally refers to the use of aerial sensor technologies to detect and classify objects on Earth by means of propagated signals Remote sensing...

, oil and gas exploration, information technology, hydro power and construction of ports and buildings. In 2008, India suspended military aid to Burma over the issue of human rights abuses by the ruling junta, although it has preserved extensive commercial ties which provide the regime with much needed revenue.

The country's armed forces are known as the Tatmadaw, which numbers 488,000. The Tatmadaw comprises the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. The country ranked twelfth in the world for its number of active troops in service. The military is very influential in the country, with top cabinet and ministry posts held by military officers. Official figures for military spending are not available. Estimates vary widely because of uncertain exchange rates, but military spending is very high. The country imports most of its weapons from Russia, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, China and India.

The country is building a research nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

 near May Myo (Pyin Oo Lwin) with help from Russia. It is one of the signatories of the nuclear non-proliferation pact since 1992 and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 (IAEA) since 1957. The military junta had informed the IAEA in September 2000 of its intention to construct the reactor. The research reactor outbuilding frame was built by ELE steel industries limited of Yangon and water from Anisakhan/BE water fall will be used for the reactor cavity cooling system.

ASEAN will not defend the country in any international forum following the military regime's refusal to restore democracy. In April 2007, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry parliamentary secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek
Ahmad Shabery Cheek
YB. Dato' Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek is a Malaysian politician. He is the Minister of Youth and Sports in the Barisan Nasional coalition government, and sits in Parliament as the member for Kemaman, Terengganu...

 said Malaysia and other ASEAN members had decided not to defend Burma if the country's issue was raised for discussion at any international conference. "Now Myanmar has to defend itself if it is bombarded in any international forum", he said when winding up a debate at committee stage for the Foreign Ministry. He was replying to queries from opposition leader Lim Kit Siang on the next course of action to be taken by Malaysia and ASEAN with the military junta. Lim had said Malaysia must play a proactive role in pursuing regional initiatives to bring about a change in Burma and support efforts to bring the situation in Burma to the UN Security Council's attention. However, during the 19th ASEAN Summit in 2011, ASEAN member states have decided to make Burma the ASEAN chair in 2014. In November 2008, Burma's political situation with neighbouring Bangladesh became tense as they began searching for natural gas in a disputed block of the Bay of Bengal.

Until 2005, the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 annually adopted a detailed resolution about the situation in Burma by consensus. But in 2006 a divided United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 voted through a resolution that strongly called upon the government of Burma to end its systematic violations of human rights. In January 2007, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 calling on the government of Burma to respect human rights and begin a democratic transition. South Africa also voted against the resolution.

In 2010 as part of the Wikileaks leaked cables, Burma was suspected of using North Korean construction teams to build a fortified Surface-to-Air Missile facility.

Economy


The country is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, suffering from decades of stagnation, mismanagement and isolation. The lack of an educated workforce skilled in modern technology contributes to the growing problems of the economy. The country lacks adequate infrastructure. Goods travel primarily across the Thai
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 border, where most illegal drugs are exported and along the Irrawaddy River. Railways are old and rudimentary, with few repairs since their construction in the late 19th century. Highways are normally unpaved, except in the major cities. Energy shortages are common throughout the country including in Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

.

Under British administration, Burma was the second-wealthiest country in South-East Asia. It had been the world's largest exporter of rice. Burma also had a wealth of natural and labour resources. It produced 75% of the world's teak
Teak
Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis and its wood products. Tectona grandis is native to south and southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Burma, but is naturalized and cultivated in many countries, including those in Africa and the...

 and had a highly literate population. The country was believed to be on the fast track to development.

During World War II, the British destroyed the major oil wells and mines for tungsten, tin, lead and silver to keep them from the Japanese. Burma was bombed extensively by both sides. After a parliamentary government was formed in 1948, Prime Minister U Nu
U Nu
For other people with the Burmese name Nu, see Nu .U Nu was a leading Burmese nationalist and political figure of the 20th century...

 embarked upon a policy of nationalization and the state was declared the owner of all land. The government also tried to implement a poorly thought out Eight-Year plan. By the 1950s, rice exports had fallen by two thirds and mineral exports by over 96% (as compared to the pre-World War II period). Plans were partly financed by printing money, which led to inflation. The 1962 coup d'état was followed by an economic scheme called the Burmese Way to Socialism
Burmese Way to Socialism
The Burmese Way to Socialism refers to the ideology of the Socialist regime in Burma, from 1962 to 1988, when the 1962 coup d'état was led by Ne Win and the military to remove U Nu from power...

, a plan to nationalise all industries, with the exception of agriculture. The catastrophic program turned Burma into one of the world's most impoverished countries. Burma's admittance to Least Developed Country
Least Developed Countries
Least developed country is the name given to a country which, according to the United Nations, exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all countries in the world...

 status by the UN in 1987 highlighted its economic bankruptcy.

The national currency is Kyat
Myanma kyat
The kyat is the currency of Burma . It is often abbreviated as "K", which is placed before the numerical value.-First kyat, 1852-1889:...

. Burma has a dual exchange rate system similar to Cuba. The market rate was around two hundred times below the government-set rate in 2006. Inflation averaged 30.1% between 2005 and 2007. Inflation is a serious problem for the economy. In recent years, both China and India have attempted to strengthen ties with the government for economic benefit. Many nations, including the United States and Canada, and the European Union, have imposed investment and trade sanctions on Burma. The United States has banned all imports from Burma. Foreign investment comes primarily from China, Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, South Korea, India, and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.

The annual import of medicine and medical equipment to Burma during the 2000s was 160 million USD.

Agriculture


The major agricultural product is rice which covers about 60% of the country's total cultivated land area. Rice accounts for 97% of total food grain production by weight. Through collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute
International Rice Research Institute
The International Rice Research Institute is an international NGO. Its headquarters are in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines, and it has offices in sixteen countries...

 52 modern rice varieties were released in the country between 1966 and 1997, helping increase national rice production to 14 million tons in 1987 and to 19 million tons in 1996. By 1988, modern varieties were planted on half of the country's ricelands, including 98 percent of the irrigated areas. In 2008 rice production was estimated at 50 million tons.

Burma is also the world's second largest producer of opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

, accounting for 8% of entire world production and is a major source of illegal drugs, including amphetamines.
Opium bans implemented since 2002 after international pressure have left ex-poppy farmers without sustainable sources of income in the Kokang and Wa regions. They depend on casual labour for income.

Natural resources


Burma produces precious stones such as sapphire
Sapphire
Sapphire is a gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, an aluminium oxide , when it is a color other than red or dark pink; in which case the gem would instead be called a ruby, considered to be a different gemstone. Trace amounts of other elements such as iron, titanium, or chromium can give...

s, pearls and jade
Jade
Jade is an ornamental stone.The term jade is applied to two different metamorphic rocks that are made up of different silicate minerals:...

. Rubies are the biggest earner; 90% of the world's rubies come from the country, whose red stones are prized for their purity and hue
Hue
Hue is one of the main properties of a color, defined technically , as "the degree to which a stimulus can be describedas similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow,"...

. Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 buys the majority of the country's gems
Gemstone
A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments...

. Burma's "Valley of Rubies", the mountainous Mogok
Mogok Township
Mogok Township is a township of Pyin Oo Lwin District in the Mandalay Region of Burma . It is located north of the city of Mandalay and surrounds the area of Mogok City.-External links:* Myanmar Information Management Unit * Maplandia...

 area, 200 km (124.3 mi) north of Mandalay
Mandalay
Mandalay is the second-largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. Located north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, the city has a population of one million, and is the capital of Mandalay Region ....

, is noted for its rare pigeon's blood rubies and blue sapphires. Many U.S. and European jewellery companies, including Bulgari, Tiffany, and Cartier, refuse to import these stones based on reports of deplorable working conditions in the mines. Human Rights Watch has encouraged a complete ban on the purchase of Burmese gems based on these reports and because nearly all profits go to the ruling junta, as the majority of mining activity in the country is government-run. The government of Burma controls the gem trade by direct ownership or by joint ventures with private owners of mines.

Other industries include agricultural goods, textiles, wood products, construction materials, gems, metals, oil and natural gas.

Tourism


Since 1992, the government has encouraged tourism in the country
Tourism in Burma
Tourism in Burma is a slowly developing sector. Although Burma possesses great tourist potential and attractions in many fields, much of the industry remains to be developed. Also, the number of visitors to Burma is comparatively small compared to her neighbours - even outpaced by Laos...

. However, fewer than 750,000 tourists enter the country annually. Burma's Minister of Hotels and Tourism Maj-Gen Saw Lwin has stated that the government receives a significant percentage of the income of private sector tourism services. Much of the country is completely off-limits to tourists, and the military very tightly controls interactions between foreigners and the people of Burma, particularly the border regions. They are not to discuss politics with foreigners, under penalty of imprisonment, and in 2001, the Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board issued an order for local officials to protect tourists and limit "unnecessary contact" between foreigners and ordinary Burmese people.

Demographics



Burma has a population of about 56 million. Population figures are rough estimates because the last partial census, conducted by the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs under the control of the military junta, was taken in 1983. No trustworthy nationwide census has been taken in Burma since 1931. There are over 600,000 registered migrant worker
Migrant worker
The term migrant worker has different official meanings and connotations in different parts of the world. The United Nations' definition is broad, including any people working outside of their home country...

s from Burma in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, and millions more work illegally. Burmese migrant workers account for 80% of Thailand's migrant workers. Burma has a population density of 75 /km2, one of the lowest in Southeast Asia. Refugee camps exist along Indian, Bangladeshi and Thai borders while several thousand are in Malaysia. Conservative estimates state that there are over 295,800 refugees from Burma, with the majority being Rohingya
Rohingya people
The Rohingya is a predominantly Muslim ethnic group of disputed origin who live in Arakan State, western Burma. The Rohingya population is mostly concentrated to the cities of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Akyab, Rathedaung and Kyauktaw.-Etymology:...

, Kayin
Kayah State
Kayah State is a state of Myanmar. Situated in eastern Myanmar, it is bounded on the north by Shan State, on the east by Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province, and on the south and west by Kayin State. It lies approximately between 18° 30' and 19° 55' north latitude and between 94°40' and 97° 93' east...

, and Karenni
Karen people
The Karen or Kayin people , are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma . The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people...

 and are principally located along the Thai-Burma border. There are nine permanent refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border, most of which were established in the mid-1980s. The refugee camps are under the care of the Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC). In FY 2009, the U.S. resettled 18,275 refugees from Burma.

There are over 53.42 million Buddhists, over 2.98 million Christians, over 2.27 million Muslims, over 0.3 million Hindus and over 0.79 million of those who believe in other religions in the country, according to an answer by Union Minister at Myanmar Parliament on 8 Sep 2011.

Ethnic groups


Burma is home to four major language families: Sino-Tibetan
Sino-Tibetan languages
The Sino-Tibetan languages are a language family comprising, at least, the Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman languages, including some 250 languages of East Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. They are second only to the Indo-European languages in terms of the number of native speakers...

, Tai–Kadai, Austro-Asiatic
Austro-Asiatic languages
The Austro-Asiatic languages, in recent classifications synonymous with Mon–Khmer, are a large language family of Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout India and Bangladesh. The name Austro-Asiatic comes from the Latin words for "south" and "Asia", hence "South Asia"...

, and Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

. Sino-Tibetan languages are most widely spoken. They include Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

, Karen
Karen people
The Karen or Kayin people , are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma . The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people...

, Kachin, Chin
Chin people
The Chin , known as the Kuki in Assam, are one of the ethnic groups in Burma. The Chins are found mainly in western part of Burma and numbered circa 1.5 million. They also live in nearby Indian states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur and Assam. Owing to Mizo influence and Baptist missionaries'...

, and Chinese. The primary Tai–Kadai language is Shan
Shan language
The Shan language is the native language of Shan people and spoken mostly in Shan State, Burma. It is also used in pockets of Kachin State in Burma, in northern Thailand, and in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China. Shan is a member of the Tai–Kadai language family, and...

. Mon
Mon language
The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by the Mon, who live in Burma and Thailand. Mon, like the related language Cambodian—but unlike most languages in Mainland Southeast Asia—is not tonal. Mon is spoken by more than a million people today. In recent years, usage of Mon has...

, Palaung
Palaung language
Palaung is a Mon–Khmer language, or actually a dialect cluster, spoken by over half a million people in Burma and neighboring countries. There are three distinct varieties, Shwe , Ruching , and Rumai, each with their own dialects...

, and Wa
Va people
The Va nationality lives mainly in Northern Burma, in the northern part of Shan and eastern Kachin States, near and along the border with China. Their defacto capital is Pangkham in the unofficial Wa State in North Eastern Shan state. The majority of the Va live in Burma...

 are the major Austroasiatic languages spoken in Burma. The two major Indo-European languages are Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism, and English.

According to the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 Institute of Statistics, Burma's official literacy rate as of 2000 was 89.9%. Historically, Burma has had high literacy rates. To qualify for least developed country status by the UN in order to receive debt relief, Burma lowered its official literacy rate from 78.6% to 18.7% in 1987.

Burma is ethnically diverse. The government recognises 135 distinct ethnic groups. While it is extremely difficult to verify this statement, there are at least 108 different ethnolinguistic groups in Burma, consisting mainly of distinct Tibeto-Burman peoples, but with sizeable populations of Daic, Hmong–Mien, and Austroasiatic (Mon–Khmer) peoples. The Bamar
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

 form an estimated 68% of the population. 10% of the population are Shan. The Kayin
Karen people
The Karen or Kayin people , are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma . The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people...

 make up 7% of the population. The Rakhine people
Rakhine people
The Rakhine , is a nationality in Myanmar forming the majority along the coastal region of present day Rakhine State or Arakan State. They possibly constitute 5.53% or more of Myanmar's total population but no accurate census figures exist. Rakhine people also live in the southeastern parts of...

 constitute 4% of the population. Overseas Chinese
Burmese Chinese
The Burmese Chinese or Chinese Burmese are a group of overseas Chinese born or raised in Burma . Although the Chinese officially make up three percent of the population, the actual figure is believed to be much higher...

 form approximately 3% of the population. Burma's ethnic minority groups prefer the term "ethnic nationality" over "ethnic minority" as the term "minority" furthers their sense of insecurity in the face of what is often described as "Burmanisation"--the proliferation and domination of the dominant Bamar culture over minority cultures.

Mon
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

, who form 2% of the population, are ethno-linguistically related to the Khmer
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

. Overseas Indians
Burmese Indians
Burmese Indians are a group of people of Indian subcontinental ethnicity who live in Myanmar . While Indians have lived in Burma for many centuries, most of the ancestors of the current Burmese Indian community emigrated to Burma from the start of British rule in the mid 19th century to the...

 comprise 2%. The remainder are Kachin, Chin
Chin people
The Chin , known as the Kuki in Assam, are one of the ethnic groups in Burma. The Chins are found mainly in western part of Burma and numbered circa 1.5 million. They also live in nearby Indian states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur and Assam. Owing to Mizo influence and Baptist missionaries'...

, Anglo-Indian
Anglo-Indian
Anglo-Indians are people who have mixed Indian and British ancestry, or people of British descent born or living in India, now mainly historical in the latter sense. British residents in India used the term "Eurasians" for people of mixed European and Indian descent...

s and other ethnic minorities. Included in this group are the Anglo-Burmese
Anglo-Burmese
The Anglo-Burmese, also known as the Anglo-Burmans, are a community of Eurasians of Burmese and European descent, and emerged as a distinct community through mixed relations between the British and other European settlers and the indigenous peoples of Burma from 1826 until 1948 when Burma gained...

. Once forming a large and influential community, the Anglo-Burmese left the country in steady streams from 1958 onwards, principally to Australia and the U.K.. Today, it is estimated that only 52,000 Anglo-Burmese remain in the country. There are 110,000 Burmese refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s in Thai border camps.

89% of the country's population are Buddhist, according to a report on ABC World News Tonight in May 2008 and the Buddha Dharma Education Association.

Culture


A diverse range of indigenous cultures exist in Burma, the majority culture is primarily Buddhist and Bamar
Bamar
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

. Bamar culture has been influenced by the cultures of neighbouring countries. This is manifested in its language, cuisine, music, dance and theatre. The arts, particularly literature, have historically been influenced by the local form of Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. Considered the national epic of Burma, the Yama Zatdaw
Yama Zatdaw
Yama Zatdaw , unofficially Myanmar's national epic, is the Burmese version of the Ramayana. There are nine known pieces of the Yama Zatdaw in Myanmar...

, an adaptation of India's Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, has been influenced greatly by Thai
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Mon
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

, and Indian versions of the play. Buddhism is practised along with nat worship
Nat (spirit)
The nats are spirits worshipped in Burma in conjunction with Buddhism. They are divided between the 37 Great Nats and all the rest . Almost all of the 37 Great Nats were human beings who met violent deaths . They may thus also be called nat sein...

 which involves elaborate rituals to propitiate one from a pantheon of 37 nats.


In a traditional village, the monastery is the centre of cultural life. Monks are venerated and supported by the lay people. A novitiation ceremony called shinbyu
Shinbyu
Shinbyu is the Burmese term for a novitiation ceremony in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, referring to the celebrations marking the samanera ordination of a boy under the age of 20....

 is the most important coming of age
Coming of age
Coming of age is a young person's transition from childhood to adulthood. The age at which this transition takes place varies in society, as does the nature of the transition. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual, as practiced by many societies...

 events for a boy when he enters the monastery for a short period of time. All boys of Buddhist family need to be a novice (beginner for Buddhism) before the age of twenty and to be a monk after the age of twenty. It is compulsory for all boys of Buddhism. The duration can be as little as one week. Girls have ear-piercing ceremonies () at the same time. Burmese culture is most evident in villages where local festivals are held throughout the year, the most important being the pagoda festival. Many villages have a guardian nat, and superstition and taboos are commonplace.

British colonial rule also introduced Western elements of culture to Burma. Burma's educational system is modelled after that of the United Kingdom. Colonial architectural influences are most evident in major cities such as Yangon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

. Many ethnic minorities, particularly the Karen
Karen people
The Karen or Kayin people , are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma . The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people...

 in the southeast, and the Kachin and Chin (people) who populate the north and north-east, practice Christianity. According to CIA World Factbook, the Burman population is 68%, and the Ethnic groups comprise of 32%. However, the exiled leaders and organisations claims that Ethnic population is 40% which is implicitly contrasted with CIA report (official U.S report).

Language



Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

, the mother tongue of the Bamar and official language of Burma, is related to Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 and to the Chinese languages. It is written in a script consisting of circular and semi-circular letters, which were adapted from the Mon script
Mon language
The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by the Mon, who live in Burma and Thailand. Mon, like the related language Cambodian—but unlike most languages in Mainland Southeast Asia—is not tonal. Mon is spoken by more than a million people today. In recent years, usage of Mon has...

, which in turn was developed from a southern Indian script in the 8th century. The earliest known inscriptions in the Burmese script date from the 11th century. It is also used to write Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

, the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, as well as several ethnic minority languages, including Shan, several Karen dialects, and Kayah (Karenni), with the addition of specialised characters and diacritic
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

s for each language. The Burmese language incorporates widespread usage of honorific
Honorific
An honorific is a word or expression with connotations conveying esteem or respect when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term is used not quite correctly to refer to an honorary title...

s and is age-oriented. Burmese society has traditionally stressed the importance of education. In villages, secular schooling often takes place in monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

. Secondary and tertiary education take place at government schools.

Religion




Many religions are practised in Burma. Religious edifices and orders have been in existence for many years. Festivals can be held on a grand scale. The Christian and Muslim populations do, however, face religious persecution and it is hard, if not impossible, for non-Buddhists to join the army or get government jobs, the main route to success in the country. Such persecution and targeting of civilians is particularly notable in Eastern Burma, where over 3000 villages have been destroyed in the past ten years. More than 200,000 Rohingya
Rohingya people
The Rohingya is a predominantly Muslim ethnic group of disputed origin who live in Arakan State, western Burma. The Rohingya population is mostly concentrated to the cities of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Akyab, Rathedaung and Kyauktaw.-Etymology:...

 Muslims have settled in Bangladesh, to escape persecution, over the past 20 years.

89% of the population embraces Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 (mostly Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

). Other religions are practiced largely without obstruction, with the notable exception of some ethnic minorities such as the Muslim Rohingya people
Rohingya people
The Rohingya is a predominantly Muslim ethnic group of disputed origin who live in Arakan State, western Burma. The Rohingya population is mostly concentrated to the cities of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Akyab, Rathedaung and Kyauktaw.-Etymology:...

, who have continued to have their citizenship status denied and therefore do not have access to education, and Christians in Chin State. 4 percent of the population practices Christianity; 4 percent, Islam; 1 percent, traditional animistic
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

 beliefs; and 2 percent follow other religions, including Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, East Asian religions
East Asian religions
In the study of comparative religion, the East Asian religions form a subset of the Eastern religions...

 and the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

. However, according to a U.S. State Department's 2010 international religious freedom report, official statistics are alleged to underestimate the non-Buddhist population. Independent researchers put the Muslim population at 6 to 10% of the population,. A tiny Jewish community in Rangoon had a synagogue but no resident rabbi to conduct services.

Units of measure



Burma is one of three countries that still predominantly uses a non-metric system of measure, according to the CIA Factbook. The common units of measure are unique to Burma, but the government web pages use both imperial units and metric units.

Education



The educational system of Burma is operated by the government Ministry of Education. Universities and professional institutes from upper Burma and lower Burma are run by two separate entities, the Department of Higher Education of Upper Burma and the Department of Higher Education of Lower Burma. Headquarters are based in Yangon and Mandalay respectively. The education system is based on the United Kingdom's system, due to nearly a century of British and Christian presences in Burma. Nearly all schools are government-operated, but there has been a recent increase in privately funded English language schools. Schooling is compulsory until the end of elementary school, probably about 9 years old, while the compulsory schooling age is 15 or 16 at international level.

There are 101 universities, 12 institutes, 9 degree colleges and 24 colleges in Burma, a total of 146 higher education institutions.

There are 10 Technical Training Schools, 23 nursing training schools, 1 sport academy and 20 midwifery schools.

There are 2047 Basic Education High Schools, 2605 Basic Education Middle Schools, 29944 Basic Education Primary Schools and 5952 Post Primary Schools. 1692 multimedia classrooms exist within this system.

There are four international schools which are acknowledged by WASC and College Board – The International School Yangon (ISY), Crane International School Yangon (CISM), Yangon International School
Yangon International School
Yangon International School is a private college-preparatory school, located in Yangon, Myanmar.YIS offers an American-based curriculum from grades K to 12. YIS was accredited by in 2009....

 (YIS) and International School of Myanmar
Yangon International Educare Center
On September 26, 2008, YIEC was renamed to ISM . It is located in Hlaing Township in Yangon, Myanmar . The school follows a primarily Burmese curriculum..-See also:*High schools in Burma...

 (ISM) in Yangon.

Media


Due to Burma's political climate, there are not many media companies in relation to the country's population, although a certain number exists. Some are privately owned, but all programming must meet with the approval of the censorship board.

Burma is the primary subject of a 2007 graphic novel titled Chroniques Birmanes by Québécois
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

 author and animator, Guy Delisle
Guy Delisle
Guy Delisle is a comic book author from Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. He studied animation at Sheridan College in Oakville, near Toronto, and then worked for the animation studio CinéGroupe in Montreal...

. The graphic novel was translated into English under the title Burma Chronicles in 2008. In 2009, a documentary about Burmese videojournalists called Burma VJ
Burma VJ
Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country is a 2008 documentary film directed by Anders Østergaard. It follows the September 2007 uprisings against the military regime in Burma. Some of it was filmed on hand-held cameras, and the footage was smuggled out of the country...

was released. This film was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2010 Academy Awards
82nd Academy Awards
The 82nd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences , honored the best films of 2009 and took place March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST / 8:30 p.m. EST. The ceremony was scheduled well after...

.

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