Myanmar is the traditional name both of the country and
of its people. The British called the country
“Burma” following colloquial usage and coined
the name “Burmese” for the people.
The land was also known as Suvannabhumi, “Golden
Land” in ancient times, and today, with its rich
natural resources and diversity of attractions, it still
deserves to be called the Golden Land.
With a land area of 676,577 sq.km., Myanmar is the
largest country in the South-east Asian peninsula. It
shares borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and
Thailand and has a 2832 km-long coastline on the Indian
Ocean. Situated between latitudes 9� 30’N and 28� 30′ N
and between longitudes 92� 10′ E and 101� 10′ E the
country stretches 2090 km north to south, and 925km east
to west and has a varied topography which includes
islands, extensive rice plains, river valleys and
forested hills and mountains.
Over 50 percent of the total land area is covered with
forests, and the flora ranges from sub-alpine forests in
the north through thorn forests in the central region to
tropical rain forests in the south. Myanmar enjoys
tropical climate and has three seasons; the monsoon or
rainy season from June to October, a cool season from
November to February, and a hot season from March to May.
During the monsoon season, rainfall can vary from a high
of 500 cm in coastal regions to a low of 75 cm in the
central region. Average temperatures range from 32 H C in
the coastal and delta areas to 21 H C in the northern
Bagan, the cradle Myanmar culture since 11th Century
- Historical Background
Early civilization in Myanmar dates back to the 1st
century with archaeological evidences of the Pyu kingdoms
of Thayekhittaya (Sriksetra), Beikthano (Visnu) and
Myanmar entered a period of greatness in the early 11th
century when King Anawrahta unified the country and
created the first Myanmar Empire with its capital in
Bagan. The Empire, which lasted until the end of the 13th
century, produced a glorious civilization whose monuments
still endure. The second Myanmar Empire with its capital
in Bago was created in the middle of the 16th century by
King Bayinnaung. The third and last Myanmar Empire Was
founded by King Alaungpaya in 1752 and had a
number of capitals, the last being Mandalay. In the later
years of the Empire, Myanmar was annexed by the Brit/sh
in three stages, in 1825, 1852, 1885 and became a Brit/sh
colony. Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese during World
War II, and in the postwar period the independence
movement, which had begun in the early 20th century, came
to a climax and Myanmar attained independence on 4
Myanmar is a Union of over 135 ethnic groups with the
name Myanmar embracing all the ethnic groups. The major
ethnic groups are Bamar, Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon,
Raichine and Shan. The Bamar is the largest group forming
69% of the total population of 47 million. A majority
(89%) of the population are Buddhists and the rest are
Christians, Muslims, Hindus and some Animists.
Myanmar lies between two great civilizations, India and
China, but it has developed its own distinctive culture.
Buddhism has a great influence on the daily lives of the
Myanmar people. The people have preserved the traditions
of close family ties, respect for elders, devotion to
Buddhist teachings and wearing the simple native dress.
They are a people easily contented and cheerful in the
face of adversity. Myanmar people are known for their
friendliness and simple hospitality. The wealth of
natural resources may be impressive but the great
fascination of Myanmar lies in its people.
The official language is Myanmar and it is spoken by at
least 80% of the population. The spoken Myanmar language
differs slightly from region to region and the minority
ethnic groups have their own languages and dialects.
English is spoken by many and is widely understood.
Since 1988, Myanmar has moved from a centrally planned
economy to a market oriented economy and has liberalised
domestic and external trade, promoted the development of
the private sector and been opened up to foreign
In line with the new economic direction, such laws as the
Foreign Investment Law, Central Bank of Myanmar Law,
Financial Institutions of Myanmar Law, and Myanmar
Tourist Law have been enacted and Chambers of Commerce
Agriculture remains the main sector of the economy and
measures are being taken to increase productivity,
promote crop diversification, increase agricultural
exports and develop agro-based industries.
Under the new economic policy, Myanmar’s rich natural and
human resources are being utilized and developed not only
by the state sector but also by local and foreign
Myanmar is also rich in tourist attractions and there is
enormous potential for the tourism industry.