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Republic of the Union of Myanmar

  • ပြည်ထောင်စု သမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်‌  (Burmese)
  • Pyidaunzu Thanmăda Myăma Nainngandaw
State Seal of Myanmar
State Seal
Anthem: 
Myanmar (orthographic projection).svg
Location Burma (Myanmar) ASEAN.svg
Location of  Myanmar  (green)

in ASEAN  (dark grey)  —  [Legend]

Capital Naypyidaw
19°45′N 96°6′E / 19.750°N 96.100°E / 19.750; 96.100
Largest city Yangon
Official languages Burmese
Recognised regional languages
  • Kachin
  • Kayah
  • Karen
  • Chin
  • Mon
  • Rakhine
  • Shan
Official script Burmese script
Ethnic groups
(2018)
  • 68% Bamar
  • 9% Shan
  • 7% Karen
  • 4% Rakhine
  • 3% Chinese
  • 2% Indians
  • 2% Mon
  • 5% others
Religion
  • 87.9% Buddhism
  • 6.2% Christianity
  • 4.3% Islam
  • 1.6% Others
Demonym(s) Burmese / Myanma
Government Unitary parliamentary assembly-independent republic under a military junta
• State Administration Council
Myint Swe (acting)
• First Vice-President
Myint Swe
Legislature Assembly of the Union
House of Nationalities
House of Representatives
Formation
• Pyu city-states
c. 180 BCE
23 December 849
• Taungoo Dynasty
16 October 1510
• Konbaung Dynasty
29 February 1752
• Annexation by Britain
1 January 1886
• Independence
from British
4 January 1948
• Coup d'état
2 March 1962
• Renamed from "Burma" to "Myanmar"
18 June 1989
30 March 2011
1 February 2021
Area
• Total
676,578 km2 (261,228 sq mi) (39th)
• Water (%)
3.06
Population
• 2017 census
53,582,855 (2017) (26th)
• Density
76/km2 (196.8/sq mi) (125th)
GDP (PPP) 2019 estimate
• Total
Increase $355 billion (51st)
• Per capita
Decrease $6,707 (128th)
GDP (nominal) 2019 estimate
• Total
Increase $66 billion (72nd)
• Per capita
Increase $1,245 (155th)
Gini (2015) 38.1
medium
HDI (2019) Decrease 0.583
medium · 147th
Currency Kyat (K) (MMK)
Time zone UTC+06:30 (MMT)
Driving side right
Calling code +95
ISO 3166 code MM
Internet TLD .mm
  1. Also spelled "Nay Pyi Taw".
  2. Also spelled "Rangoon".

Myanmar is a country in South East Asia. Its full name is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. It is also sometimes called Burma. Myanmar is the largest country in South East Asia that is not an island. It is also part of South Asia.

It is bordered by China on the north, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, and the India on the northwest, with the Andaman Sea to the south, and the Bay of Bengal to the southwest. There are over 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) of coast line.

Origin and history of the name

In 1989, the military junta officially changed the English version of its name from Burma to Myanmar. It also made a new name in English for places in the country, such as its former capital city, from Rangoon to Yangon. The official name of the country in the Burmese language, Myanma did not change, however. The renaming was controversial, seen by some as linguistically bad. Accepting the name change in the English-speaking world has been slow, with many people still using the name Burma to refer to the country. Major news organizations like the BBC still call it Burma. Some question the military junta's authority to "officially" change the name in English in the first place. Aung San Suu Kyi, however, calls the country Myanmar now.

History

British forces arrival mandalay1885
The landing of British forces in Mandalay after the last of the Anglo-Burmese Wars, which resulted in the abdication of the last Burmese monarch, King Thibaw Min.

Myanmar had a strong kingdom in ancient times, but the nation was taken over by the British in the 1800s. It was occupied by the Empire of Japan in the 1940s. Myanmar became independent in 1948 as the Union of Burma, and had a democratic government at first. However, in 1962, a coup d'état brought the military into power, where it has been ever since. The founder of modern Myanmar, Aung San was assassinated months before independence. His daughter Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest many times for leading the democracy movement.

In 1991, the military junta agreed to democratic elections, which were won by the National League for Democracy, and should have made Aung San Suu Kyi the Prime Minister. However, the dictatorship ignored the results of the elections and continued ruling. In November 2005, the military government stated that the national capital would be moved from Yangon to a location near Pyinmana, which was renamed Naypyidaw in March 2006.

Since independence in 1948 and the assassination of Aung San Burma has had civil wars between its governments and minority ethnic groups like the Kachin, Karen, Shan and others. These conflicts are known as the Internal conflict in Burma.

2020 elections and 2021 military coup d'etat

Election and aftermath

In Myanmar's 2020 parliamentary election, the ostensibly ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, competed with various other smaller parties – particularly the military-affiliated Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). Other parties and individuals allied with specific ethnic minorities also ran for office.

Suu Kyi's NLD won the 2020 Myanmar general election on 8 November in a landslide, again winning supermajorities in both houses—winning 396 out of 476 elected seats in parliament.

The USDP, regarded as a proxy for the military, suffered a "humiliating" defeat – even worse than in 2015 – capturing only 33 of the 476 elected seats.

As the election results began emerging, the USDP rejected them, urging a new election with the military as observers.

More than 90 other, smaller parties contested the vote, including more than 15 who complained of irregularities. However, election observers declared there were no major irregularities in the voting.

The military – arguing that it had found over 8 million irregularities in voter lists, in over 300 townships – called on Myanmar's Union Election Commission (UEC) and government to review the results, but the commission dismissed the claims for lack of any evidence.

The election commission declared that any irregularities were too few and too minor to affect the outcome of the election. However, despite the election commission validating the NLD's overwhelming victory, the USDP and Myanmar's military persistently alleged fraud and the military threatened to "take action".

In January, 2021, just before the new parliament was to be sworn in, The NLD announced that Suu Kyi would retain her State Counsellor role in the upcoming government.

Coup

In the early morning of 1 February 2021, the day parliament was set to convene, the Tatmadaw, Myanmar's military, detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the ruling party.

The military handed power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing and declared a state of emergency for one year and began closing the borders, restricting travel and electronic communications nationwide.

The military announced it would replace the current election commission with a new one, and a military media outlet indicated new elections would be held in about one year – though the military avoided making an official commitment to that.

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were placed under house arrest, and the military began filing various charges against them. The military expelled NLD party Members of Parliament from the capital city, Naypyitaw. By March 15, 2021 the military leadership continued to extend martial law into more parts of Yangon, while security forces killed 38 people in a single day of violence.

National symbols of Myanmar

Land

Downtown Yangon (2006)
Downtown Yangon
Mandalay, Myanmar
Mandalay, Myanmar
Bago, Myanmar (15168477180)
Bago

Today, there are 14 sections. 7 are called states and the other 7 are called divisions.

The divisions are split into townships. The townships are divided into villages and wards.

Largest cities of Myanmar

  • Yangon - Population: 5,211,431
  • Bago, Burma - Population: 491,434
  • Hpa-An - Population: 421,575
  • Taunggyi - Population: 381,636
  • Monywa - Population: 372,095
  • Myitkyina - Population: 306,949
  • Mawlamyine - Population: 289,388
  • Magway, Burma - Population: 289,247

Culture

Burmese Ramayana dance
Burmese Kinnayi Kinnaya dance

A diverse range of indigenous cultures exist in Myanmar, the majority culture is primarily Buddhist and Bamar. 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 Buddhism. Considered the national epic of Myanmar, the Yama Zatdaw, an adaptation of India's Ramayana, has been influenced greatly by Thai, Mon, and Indian versions of the play. Buddhism is practised along with nat worship, which involves elaborate rituals to propitiate one from a pantheon of 37 nats.

Myanmar Traditional novitiation march
A Buddhist Shinbyu ceremony in Mandalay.

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 is the most important coming of age events for a boy, during which he enters the monastery for a short time. All male children in Buddhist families are encouraged to be a novice (beginner for Buddhism) before the age of twenty and to be a monk after the age of twenty. 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.

Rakhine Thingyan 2011
An Arakan (Rakhine) girl pours water at revellers during the Burmese New Year Thingyan Water Festival in Yangon.

British colonial rule introduced Western elements of culture to Myanmar. Myanmar's education system is modelled after that of the United Kingdom.

Colonial architectural influences are most evident in major cities such as Yangon. Many ethnic minorities, particularly the Karen in the southeast and the Kachin and Chin who populate the north and northeast, practice Christianity.

Cuisine

Burmese cuisine is characterised by extensive use of fish products such as fish sauce, ngapi (fermented seafood) and dried prawn.

Mohinga is the traditional breakfast dish and is Myanmar's national dish. Seafood is a common ingredient in coastal cities such as Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Mawlamyaing (formerly Moulmein), Mergui (Myeik) and Dawei, while meat and poultry are more commonly used in landlocked cities like Mandalay. Freshwater fish and shrimp have been incorporated into inland cooking as a primary source of protein and are used in a variety of ways, fresh, salted whole or filleted, salted and dried, made into a salty paste, or fermented sour and pressed.

Burmese cuisine also includes a variety of salads (a thoke), centred on one major ingredient, ranging from starches like rice, wheat and rice noodles, glass noodles and vermicelli, to potato, ginger, tomato, kaffir lime, long bean, lahpet (pickled tea leaves), and ngapi (fish paste).

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