12th ASEAN Summit





Member Country: MYANMAR

The Union of Myanmar, (also known as the Union of Burma), is the largest country (in geographical area) in mainland Southeast Asia. It is bordered by the People's Republic of China on the north, Laos on the east, Thailand on the south east, Bangladesh on the west, and India on the north west, with the Andaman Sea to the south, and the Bay of Bengal to the south west. There are over 2,000 kilometers (1,243 mi) of coast line. The country was ruled by a military junta led by General Ne Win from 1962 to 1988, and its political system today remains under the tight control of its military government, since 1992, led by Senior General Than Shwe.

Origin and history of the name
In 1989, the military junta officially changed the English version of its name from Burma to Myanmar (along with changes in the English versions of many place names 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 proved to be politically controversial, seen by some as being less inclusive of minorities, and linguistically unscholarly.

In 1824–1826, 1851–1852 and 1885–1886 Burma (Myanmar) was invaded by the British Empire and became a part of India. On April 1, 1937 Burma became self administered colony independent of the Indian administration. During World War II Burma became a major front in the South-East Asian Theatre. After initial successes by the Japanese in the Burma Campaign which saw them expel the British from most of Burma, the British fought back and by July 1945 had retaken the country. Burmese fought for both sides in the war. The Burma 1st Division, the Kachin Levies, the Karen Rifles and in other formations such as the American-Kachin Rangers fought for the Allies, and the Burmese National Army under the command of Aung San fought for the Japanese.

On January 4, 1948 at 04:20AM, the nation became sovereign, as the Union of Burma, with U Nu as the first Prime Minister. Democratic rule ended in 1962 with a military coup d'etat led by General Ne Win. Ne Win ruled for nearly 26 years, bringing in harsh reforms. In 1990 free elections were held for the first time in almost 30 years, but the landslide victory of the NLD, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi was voided by the military, which refused to step down.

One of the top figures in Burmese history in the 20th century is Army founder and freedom figure General Aung San, a student-turned activist whose daughter is 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate and worldwide peace, freedom and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi of the NLD, now under house arrest. The third most recognised Burmese figure in the world is U Thant, who was UN Secretary General for two terms and highly respected throughout United Nations' history.

In November 2005, the military junta announced that the national capital would be moved from Yangon to Pyinmana.

The map on the history page shows Burma as it was at its height before 1886. Burmese kings occasionally occupied some parts of India, small parts of Bangladesh, Laos and most of hearts of Thailand's ancient kingdoms at various times in history.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962. The current Head of State is General Than Shwe who holds the title of "Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council." His appointed prime minister was Khin Nyunt until 19 October 2004, when he was replaced by Lt.-Gen. Soe Win. Almost all cabinet offices are held by military officers. US sanctions against the military government have been largely ineffective, due to loopholes in the sanctions and the willingness of mainly Asian business to continue investing in Myanmar and to initiate new investments, particularly in natural resource extraction. For example, the French oil company Total S.A. is able to buy Myanmar's oil despite the country being under sanctions, although Total (formerly TotalFinaElf) is the subject of a lawsuit in French and Belgian courts for alleged connections to human rights abuses along the gas pipeline jointly owned by Total, the American company Unocal, and the Myanmar military.1 The United States clothing and shoe industry could also be affected if all the sanctions loopholes were to be closed, although they were already subject to boycotts prior to US sanctions imposed in June of 2002.2

The regime is accused of having a questionable human rights record and the human rights situation in the country is a subject of concern for a wide number of international organizations. There is no independent judiciary in Myanmar and political opposition to the military government is not tolerated. Also, Internet access is limited to non-political Burmese websites. Citizens are prohibited from creating sites that promote the reform of their government.

In 1988, protests against economic mismanagement and political oppression were violently repressed; on August 8 of that year, the military opened fire on demonstrators in what has come to be known as the 8888 uprising (a partial list of victims is here). Nonetheless, the 1988 protests paved way for the 1990 elections; these were however invalidated by the military. Aung San Suu Kyi, whose opposition party won 83% of parliamentary seats in a 1990 national election, but who was prevented from becoming prime minister by the military, has earned international praise as an activist for the return of democratic rule to Myanmar. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She has been repeatedly placed under house arrest, although in recent years the regime has been willing to enter into negotiations with her and her party, the National League for Democracy. She was placed under house arrest on May 31, 2003, following an attack on her convoy in northern Myanmar. Her house arrest was extended for yet another year in late November of 2005.

Administrative Divisions
Myanmar is divided into seven divisions and seven states, based on the dominant ethnic groups. Divisions are primarily Burman, while states predominantly consist of other ethnic groups.

  1. Divisions (taing):
    • Ayeyarwady Division (formerly Irrawady Division)
    • Bago Division (formerly Pegu Division)
    • Magway Division
    • Mandalay Division
    • Sagaing Division
    • Tanintharyi Division (formerly Tenasserim Division)
    • Yangon Division (formerly Rangoon Division)
  2. States (pyi):
    • Chin State
    • Kachin State
    • Kayin State (formerly Karen State)
    • Kayah State (formerly Karenni State)
    • Mon State
    • Rakhine State (formerly Arakan State)
    • Shan State

Myanmar is located between Bangladesh and Thailand, with China to the north and India to the north-west, with coastline on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. The country has a total area of 678,500 km² (261,970 sq. mi), of which almost half is forest or woodland. Topographically, along its borders with India and China and in the west, the country has mountains which surround a central lowland around the river Ayeyarwady, and which form a fertile delta where it flows into the sea. Most of the country's population lives in this central lowland.

Formerly the richest country in Southeast Asia and once believed to be fast on track to development, Myanmar is now one of the poorest countries in the world, suffering since the 1962 military takeover, which resulted in economic mismanagement and stagnation. In 1989, the government of Myanmar began decentralising economic control and has since liberalised some portions of the economy. However, the lucrative industries of gems, oil and forestry remain under the control of the military. The United Nations lists Myanmar as a LDC3 (least developed country). Tourism is being encouraged by the government; however, fewer than 750,000 tourists enter the country yearly. Private enterprises are often co-owned or indirectly by the Tatmadaw. The gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow larger.

Some nations, such as the Canada and United Kingdom have placed trade sanctions on Myanmar. Foreign investment comes primarily from China, Singapore and Thailand.

Myanmar lacks adequate infrastructure, and has suffered as a result. Goods travel primarily through the Burmese-Thai borders, from which most illegal drugs are exported, and through the Ayeyarwady River. Railroads are rudimentary, with few repairs since their construction in the 19th century. Highways are normally unpaved, except in the major cities. Energy shortages are common throughout the country. Myanmar is the second-largest producer of heroin in the world. Other industries include agricultural goods, textiles, wood products, construction materials, and metals. The lack of an educated workforce also contributes to the growing problems of the Burmese economy.

Myanmar is ethnically diverse. The dominant ethnic group are the Bamar who speak Burmese. 10% of the population are Shan, who speak Shan dialects, related to Lao and Thai. The Karen (Kayin) make up 7% of the population, and speak languages distantly related to Burmese. The remainder are Rakhine (Arakanese), Kachin, Chin, Chinese, Mon, and Indian. Once a large and influential community, there is a small and ever dwindling Eurasian community consisting of Anglo-Burmese and Anglo-Indians (collectively known as ka-bya). Largely Christian and Westernised, the Eurasians of Burma suffered horrendously after the 1962 coup - most fled the country or Burmanised and adopted Burmese names, religion, dress and customs. Today, those remaining in the country have all but assimilated to the Bamar and Indian communities. This is a result of the xenophobic regime instituted in 1962.

Burmese is the official language of Myanmar. Minorities often speak Burmese as a second language, while the Bamar commonly speak English as a second language.

All population figures are at best educated guesses. No census has been taken in over 70 years. The CIA World Factbook gives a figure of about 42.9 million and one branch of the UN reports there are about 50 million ([2] mid-2005). A million or more Burmese might be living and working in neighboring countries (especially Thailand). With figures varying for the whole country by several million it becomes obvious that figures for various minority groups cannot be very reliable either. Some reports suggest that several hundred thousand Chinese have migrated into Burma in recent years but other reports suggest that some of these are returning to China. The number of Muslims is a sensitive issue and all data regarding the size of the Muslim population must be open to question.

Buddhism, particularly Theravada Buddhism is practised by 89% of the population, especially the Bamar (and Rakhine), Shan, Mon, and Chinese. Christianity is practiced by 4% of the population, especially the Chin and Karen. At present, the government is attacking Christianity by forcing the ethnic cleansing of villages along the Thai border. 4% of the population practise Islam; these Muslims are divided amongst long-established persons of Indian descent, persons of mixed Indo-Burmese descent, persons of Persian, Arab and Chinese descent, as well as the native Rohingya Muslims of Arakan. The Muslim population is socially marginalized. Small segments of the population practise Hinduism or animism.

The biggest expatriate community of Burmese is found in neighbouring Thailand, where many Burmese refugees have fled from the military regime. There are also large communities in India, Malaysia and Singapore. The largest cities of the Anglo-Saxon countries have Burmese populations. The Burmese of London, Perth and Los Angeles tend to have Anglo-Burmese origins.

The culture of Myanmar is a mixture of centuries of Chinese, Indian, and Thai influences. This is reflected in its language, cuisine, and music. The arts have historically been influenced by Theravada Buddhism, as well as literature. However, in modern times, the culture of Myanmar has increasingly become westernized; this is most apparent in urban areas. Many, both women and men, wear a sarong called longyi.



Persekutuan Malaysia

Federation of Malaysia
Flag of Myanmar Coat of Arms of Myanmar
Flag Coat of Arms

Anthem: Gba Majay Bma ("We Shall Love Burma")
Location of Myanmar
Official language Burmese
Capital Pyinmana
19°17'N 9620'E
Largest city Yangon (Rangoon)
- Chairman, SPDC
- Prime Minister
Military dictatorship
Sr. Gen. Than Shwe
Lt.-Gen. Soe Win

- Date
From the United Kingdom
January 4, 1948
- Total
- % water

- Total (2005)
- Density
54 million (27th)
62/km (n/a)
- Total
- Per capita
n/a estimate
$74.53 billion (60th)
$1,800 (n/a)
HDI (2003) 0.578 (129th) medium
Currency K; kyat (MMK)
Time zone
Internet TLD .mm (formerly .bu)
Calling code +95

Cebu Provinc Website
Cebu City Website
Mandaue City Website