Myanmars: the People 

8 Major Nationalities

Myanmar consists of over 130 nationalities and the 7 major nationals are:

  • Kachin
  • Kayah
  • Kayin (Karen)
  • Chin
  • Myanmar (Bamar)
  • Mon
  • Rakhine (Arakan)
  • Shan

Estimated Population

  • 46,275,000 (1995).
  • Speakers of Tibeto-n languages: 28,877,000, 78% of the population; Daic languages: 2,776,900 or 9.6%; Austro-Asiatic languages: 1,934,900 or 6.7%; Miao-Yao languages: 6,000 (1991 J. Matisoff).
  • Literacy rate 66% to 78%; 78.5% over 15 years old (1991).
  • 21,000 Malay, 1,015,000 Chinese, a few Iu Mien, 500,000 from Bangladesh and India.
  • Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, traditional religion, Hindu.
  • Blind population 214,440. Deaf institutions: 1.

The Descendants of the Sun

  • Myanmars, or formerly known as Burmese, believe themselves that they are the decendants of the sun. Pretty similar to Egyptians. Isn’t it? Myanmars also believe that pheasant or peacock resembles the sun, and the rabbit resembles the moon.
  • In writings about the early Myanmar kings like Pyu Sawhtee, some of them reads like.. “the lord of the white elephant, the son of Sun-King (nay-min)”.. etc. etc. That’s right. Myanmars used to call their earlier capitals as “nay-pyi-daw”, which means “great land of the sun”. Please note that the former capital Mandalay as “Yadanapone Nay Pyidaw” meaning “The Sun’s Great Land with a Pile of Gems“. See – Interesting Meanings of the City Names.
  • However, according to historians, this belief of “being the descendants of the sun”, faded in the minds of the Myanmar people after Buddhism dominated in the country.


Pls see – Ethnologue Language Family Index