Myanmar, formally the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and often referred to as Burma, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia, sharing borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand. Myanmar’s entire land area of 1,930 kilometers (1,200 miles) is dominated by an unbroken coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The country’s 2014 census showed a much lower population than anticipated, with 51 million individuals registered. Myanmar has a total land area of 676,578 square kilometers (261,227 square miles). Naypyidaw is the capital, while Yangon is the biggest city (Rangoon).
Myanmar’s oldest civilizations comprised Pyu-speaking city states in Upper Burma that spoke Tibetan and Burmese, as well as Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma. The Bamar settled in the Upper Irrawaddy Valley in the ninth century, and after the foundation of Pagano Kingdom in the early 1050s, the Theravada language, culture, and Buddhism became more prominent in Burma. The pagan empire was destroyed by Mongol invasions, and many states sprang up throughout the conflict. In the sixteenth century, after being unified by the Taungoo dynasty, the nation briefly became the greatest empire in Southeast Asia’s history. In the early nineteenth century, the Konbaung dynasty governed a territory that encompassed current Myanmar and briefly controlled Manipur and Assam. Myanmar was captured by the British in the nineteenth century after three Anglo-Burmese wars, and the nation became a British colony. Myanmar established an independent country in 1948, first as a democratic state, then as a military dictatorship after a coup in 1962.
For the majority of the nation’s independence years, the country was consumed by widespread ethnic conflict, with the numerous Burmese ethnic groups engaged in one of the world’s longest continuous civil conflicts. Meanwhile, the United Nations and a number of other groups have condemned the country’s persistent and systemic human rights abuses. In 2011, after the 2010 general elections, the military junta was formally disbanded and a nominally civilian administration was established. While former military officials retain tremendous influence in the nation, the Burmese army has begun to cede control of the government. This, along with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, benefited the country’s human rights record and foreign relations, resulting in trade facilitation measures and other economic penalties. He continues, however, to criticize the government’s handling of the Rohingya Muslim minority and its inadequate reaction to religious conflicts. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party gained a majority in both houses at the historic 2015 elections.
Myanmar is a nation rich in jade and jewels, as well as oil, natural gas, and other minerals. Its nominal GDP was 56.7 billion US dollars in 2013, while its PPP GDP was 221.5 billion US dollars. Myanmar has one of the world’s greatest economic disparities, owing to the fact that a significant portion of the economy is controlled by supporters of the former military regime. Myanmar has a low level of human development in 2013, ranking 150th out of 187 nations on the Human Development Index (HDI).