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About Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma) is a country that covers 653,508 square kilometers of land and 23,070 square kilometers of water, making it the 40th largest nation in the world with a total area of 676,578 square kilometers.

The population of Myanmar is 54,596,742 (2016) and the nation has a density of 84 people per square kilometers. These people are made up of a striking array of different ethnic groups, which included this variety of ethnicities also means massive language diversity, although Burmese is the official language and English is widely used – to varying degrees of proficiency.

Burma/ Burmese( by some distance the largest in number) Shan, Karen, Kachin, Chin, Mon, Han Chinese and Indian, to name but a few.

Outside of the main ethnic Burmese population areas, particularly in parts of Kachin, Karen and Chin states, Christianity is devoutly observed. American missionaries played a large part in converting previously animist locals during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and elements of animism remain part of these cultures. Islam and Hinduism are also practiced in Myanmar, particularly by ethnic Indians, and temples can be found around the country.

The Currency of Myanmar is the Kyat (MMK). As well, the people of Myanmar are refered to as Burmese.

Since 2005, the capital has been located in Nay Pyi Taw, but the former capital, Yangon ( Rangoon), remains the biggest city, commercial centre and arrival point for most visitors. The moving of capitals is in fact in line with the tradition of upheaval and renewal in Myanmar- the country has had many capitals over the years, including Mandalay, Inwa and Mrauk U to name just a few.

The Burmese culture is very different to the western interpretation of life and politesse. Have a read below about different aspects and facets of life in Burma. It’s fascinating, gentle, hospitality, openness and very spiritually alive.

Location

Myanmar is situated in Southeast Asia and is bordered on the north and north-east by China, on the east and south-east by Laos and Thailand. On the south is the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal and on the west is Bangladesh and India. It is located between latitudes 09°32’N and 28°31’N and longitudes 92°10’E and 101°11’E.

Geography

The country covers an area of 677,000 square kilometers (261,228 square miles) ranging 936 kilometers (581 miles) from the east to west and 2051 kilometers (1275 miles) from north to south. The length of contiguous frontier is 6159 kilometers (3828 miles) and the coastline from the mouth of Naaf River to Kawthaung is 2228 kilometers (1385 miles). The total length of the Myanmar-Bangladesh boundary is 271 kilometers (168.7 miles). The total length of Myanmar-China boundary is 2204 kilometers (1370 miles); Myanmar-Thailand 2107 kilometers (1309.8 miles); Myanmar-India 1338 kilometers (831.8 miles); and Myanmar-Laos 238 kilometers (147.9 miles).

Climate

The climate of Myanmar is roughly divided into three seasons: Summer, Rainy Season, and Winter Season. From the end of February to the beginning of May are Summer months, with highest temperatures during March and April in Central Myanmar up to above 110F (43.3C) while in Northern Myanmar it is about 97F (36.1C) and on the Shan Plateau between 85F (29.4C) and 95F (35C). Rainy Season, from mid May to the end of October, with annual rain fall of less than 40 inches in Central Myanmar while the coastal regions of Rakhine and Tanintharyi get about 200 inches. Winter starts from November and lasts to the end of February with temperature in hilly areas of over 3000 feet drops below 32F (0C). The tropical monsoon is usually cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers and less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter.

People

Myanmar comprises eight major national ethnic races with some 135 ethnic groups. The major national races are Kachin, Kayin, Kayah, Chin, Mon, Bamar, Rakhine and Shan. The Bamar form the largest national race constituting 70% of the whole population. There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Myanmar. Some of the Ethnic groups are listed as Akha, Palaung, Padaung, Naga, Taron, Eng and many more near extinct tribes. The major language is Myanmar, but minority ethnic groups have their own languages. English is widely spoken and understood.  Population of the country is estimated at 52.4 million (July, 2003) and the population growth rate is 1.84 percent.

Religion

The main religions of the country are Buddhism (89.2%), Christianity (5.0%), Islam (3.8%), Hinduism (0.5%), Spiritualism (1.2%) and others (0.2%). Religious intolerance or discrimination on grounds of religion is nonexistent in the Union of Myanmar throughout its long history.

History

Archaeological findings reveal that parts of Myanmar were inhibited some five thousand years ago. The ancestors of present-day Myanmars, the Pyus and the Mons established several kingdoms throughout the country from the 1st century A.D. to the 10th century A.D. From that early beginning up to present day there are a fascinating 135 nationalities who call Myanmar home. Myanmar’s history dates back to the early 11th Century when King Anawrahta unified the country and founded the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan. The Second Myanmar Empire was founded in mid 16th Century by King Bayinnaung(1551-1581). King Alaungpaya founded the last Myanmar Dynasty in 1752 and it was during the zenith of this Empire that the British moved into Myanmar. Like India, Myanmar became a British colony but only after three Anglo-Myanmar Wars in 1825, 1852, and 1885. During the Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 till the return of the Allied Forces in 1945. Myanmar has become a sovereign independent state since 4th January 1948 after more than 100 years under the colonial administration.