Myanmar – Burma – The Golden Land
Myanmar, a republic in South-East Asia, bounded on the north by Tibet Autonomous Region of China; on the east by China, Laos, and Thailand; on the south by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal; and on the west by the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, and India. It is officially known as the Union of Myanmar. The coastal region is known as Lower Myanmar, while the interior region is known as Upper Myanmar. The total area of the country is 676,552 square km (261,218 square miles).
- Myanmar Geography
- Historical Background
Myanmar, a republic in South-East Asia, bounded on the north by Tibet Autonomous Region of China; on the east by China, Laos, and Thailand; on the south by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal; and on the west A horseshoe-shaped mountain complex and the valley of the Ayarwaddy (Irrawaddy) River system are the dominant topographical features of Myanmar. The mountains of the northern margin rise to 5881 meters (19,296 ft) atop Hkakabo Razi, the highest peak in Southeast Asia. The two other mountain systems have northern to southern axes. The Arakan Yoma range, with peaks reaching more than 2740 meters (about 9000 ft), forms a barrier between Myanmar and the subcontinent of India. The Bilauktaung range, the southern extension of the Shan Plateau, lies along the boundary between southwestern Thailand and southeastern Lower Myanmar. The Shan Plateau, originating in China, has an average elevation of about 910 meters (about 3000 ft).
Generally narrow and elongated in the interior, the central lowlands attain a width of about 320km (about 200 miles) across the Ayarwaddy-Sittaung delta. The delta plains, extremely fertile and economically the most important section of the country, cover an area of about 46,620 sq. km (18,000 sq. ml.). Both the Arakan (in the northwest) and the Tenasserim (in the southwest) coasts of Burma are rocky and fringed with islands. The country has a number of excellent natural harbours.
Most of Myanmar lies within the Tropic Zone. The hot season extends from March through October, and the cool season, the period of the Northeast Monsoon, from November through February. Temperatures from the cool to hot seasons range from 17° to 40° C (62° to 104° F) in Lower Myanmar and from less than 17°C (62°F) to more than 40° C (104° F) in Upper Myanmar. Temperatures are generally lower in mountainous regions. The country receives practically all its rainfall between mid-May and October, the period of the Southwest Monsoon. Annual precipitation in most of Upper Burma averages about 890 mm (about 35 in) and in Lower Burma about 5080 mm (about 200 in).
The population of Myanmar in 1996-97 is 47.3 Millions. According to the 1995-96 national census with 80% Myanmars and ethnic minority groups consisting of the Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Bamar, Rakhine, Shan and hill-tribes making up the rest of the population. The overall population density was 64 persons per sq. km (166 per sq. mi.), one of the lowest in the Far East. The population is more than 75 percent rural; most of the urban areas are actually agricultural villages.
Out of the entire population, 85% are Theravada Buddhists, followed by Christians 6.2%, Muslims 4.8%, Spirit Worshippers and Animists 2.5% and Hindus 1.5%.
Predominantly Myanmar (Bamar / Burmese) and ethnic minorities speaking Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Shan and other 135 hill-tribe dialects and also Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindustani, Urdu spoken Chinese and Indian Immigrants. Being once a British colony English is also widely spoken.
Myanmar lies on the crossroad of two of the world’s great civilizations – China and India – but its culture is neither that of India nor that of China exclusively, but a blend of both interspersed with Myanmar native traits and characteristics. Buddhism has great influence on daily life of the Myanmar. The people have preserved the traditions of close family ties, respect for the elders, reverence for Buddhism and simple native dress. Myanmars are contented and cheerful even in the face of adversities and known for their simple hospitality and friendliness.
Myanmar has a long history and its greatness dates back to the early 11th Century when King Anawrahta unified the country and founded the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan more than 20 years before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The Bagan Empire encompassed the areas of the present day Myanmar and the entire Menam Valley in Thailand and lasted two centuries. The Second Myanmar Empire was founded in 16th Century by King Bayinnaung styled Branginoco by the Portuguese. King Alaungpaya founded the last Myanmar Dynasty in 1752 and it was during the zenith of this Empire that the British moved into Myanmar Wars in 1825. During The Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 till the return of the Allied Forces in 1945. Myanmar becomes a sovereign independent state in January 1948 after more than 100 years of colonial administration.