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Home > Myanmar Travel Information > Myanmar Background Info

Myanmar Background Info

Myanmar has been known by many names. The British called it Burma, after the majority Bamar racial group, but in ancient times it was Suvanna Bhumi, the Golden Land, where the fertile soil produced rice and other crops in abundance, the rivers and streams were full of fish, where vast forests contained valuable timber, and the earth yield crude oil, minerals and precious stones.

The Myanmar civilization dates back to the 5th century BC with the establishment of several small kingdoms, but it counts its real history from the 11th century, when King Anawrahta unified the country and founded the First Myanmar Empire. With Bagan as its capital, it encompassed present-day Myanmar and the Menam Valley of Thailand. It lasted for two centuries.

The Second Myanmar Empire was founded in the mid- 16th century by King Bayinnaung, and the last Myanmar Dynasty, set up by King Alaungpaya in 1752, was at its zenith when the British arrived and turned it into a colony, fighting three Anglo- Myanmar Wars. During WW II, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. In 1948 it became a sovereign independent state.

With the development of modern tourism, visitors to Myanmar are discovering the many attraction of the country. One of these is the people, a colorful diversity of ethnic groups, which reflect Myanmar's positions as a crossroad of Chinese and Indian civilizations, and a bastion of Theravada Buddhism. The people of this land respect their elders, revere their religions, smile at adversity and sincerely welcome all visitors.

Then, of course, there are numerous temples, pagodas, monasteries and archaeological sites of historical and cultural interest. For eco-tourist there are snow-capped mountains, lush tropical forests, great rivers, large lakes, unspoiled beaches and serene off-shore islands. It is a most unusual, culturally rich and highly enjoyable country for the visitors. But most of all, Burmese are incredibly friendly, most gracious and hospitable people. We know that you must surely return.

Geography

The country covers an area of 677,000 square kilometers (261,228 square miles) ranging 936 kilometres (581 miles) from east to west and 2,051 kilometers (1,275 miles) from north to south, It is a land of hills and valleys and is rimmed in the north, east and west by mountain ranges forming a giant horseshoe. Enclosed within the mountain barriers are the flat lands of Ayeyarwaddy, Chindwin and Sittaung River valleys where most of the country's agricultural land and population are concentrated.

The length of contiguous frontier is 6,159 kilometres. The total length of Myanmar-Bangladesh boundary is 271 kilometres (168.7 miles). The total length of Myanmar-China boundary is 2,204 kilometres (1,370 miles); Myanmar-Thailand 2,107 kilometres (1,309.8 miles); Myanmar-India 1,338 kilometres (831.8 miles); and Myanmar-Laos 238 kilometres (147.9 miles).

Climate

As a whole, the location and topography of the country generated a diversity of climate conditions. Seasonal changes in the monsoon wind directions create summer, rainy and winter seasons. Extremes of temperature are rare. The directions of winds and depression bring rain, and although it is always heavy in the coastal areas during monsoon season, it seldom creates hardships.

Myanmar has a tropical climate with three different seasons; Rainy, Cold and Hot. The Rainy season is from mid May to mid October, the Cold season is from November to mid February and Hot season is from mid February to mid May. Both seasons offer different types of activities and adventures for visitors.

Natural Resources

Myanmar is endowed with a rich diversity of habitat types arising largely from its unusual ecological diversity. It is home to nearly 300 known mammal species, 300 reptiles and about 100 bird species, and a haven for about 7,000 species of plant life.

National Flag

The dominating color of the national flag is red. The rectangular space at the upper left corner is blue. In it could be seen the figure of a paddy stalk and a pinion encircled by 14 white stars of uniform size. The paddy represents the peasants while the pinion stands for the workers who form the majority of the people in the country, 14 uniform white stars symbolize the equal status and union spirit of the 7 States and 7 Divisions that constitute the Union of Myanmar.

The white in the flag signifies purity; the red indicates bravery and upright nature of the people; and the blue stands as a symbol of peace and stability in the country.

Economy

Since late 1988, Myanmar has replaced the centrally planned economy to a more liberalized economic policy based on market-oriented system. In moving towards a more market oriented economy, Myanmar has more liberalized domestic and international trade, promoting the role of private sector and opening up to foreign investment.

Myanmar is richly endowed with renewable and non-renewable energy resources which are being exploited by the State sector with the participation of local and foreign investors.

Agriculture remains the main sector of the economy and measures have been taken to increase productivity, diversification of crop patterns and revitalization of agriculture exports.

Religion

About 85% of the population is practicing Theravada Buddhism, while the rest are Christian 5%, Muslims 3.5%, Hinduism 0.5% and a few Animists.

People

Myanmar is union of over hundred nationalities. The approximate population 55+ millions consist of 135 different ethnic grips throughout the country, 70% of Myanmar are Bamars.

Languages

Myanmar language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family of languages, and 90% of the population speaks Myanmar language. Myanmar is the official language and most people in the cities speak good English. The rest major languages are Shan, Kachin, Chin, Mon, Kayar, and Rakhaing.

Capital

Yangon (formerly Rangoon), situated at the mouth of the Ayarwaddy delta, has a population of +5 millions.

Standard Time

6:30 hours ahead of GMT/UTC

 
 

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