About Myanmar

General Information

Myanmar, once known as Suvanna Bhumi (the Golden Earth) and now often called the Golden Land, is the largest country in the South-east Asia Peninsula, but the second poorest. It’s land is fertile and rich with natural resources, yet a quarter of the country lives in poverty.

It is predominantly a Buddhist country, with more than 80 percent of the people following Theravada Buddhism. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and some animists make up the remaining 20%.

Myanmar is a union of over 100 nationalities with their own dialects and traditions. The major races are the Bamar (from which the British created the name Burma), the Chin, the Kachin, the Shan, the Kayah, the Kayin, the Mon and the Rakhine.

The first Myanmar Empire was founded in early 11th century by King Anawrahta who unified the country. The Empire with its capital at Bagan lasted until the end of 13th century with the invasion of the Mongols. The Second Myanmar Empire with its capital in Bago (Pegu) was founded in the mid 16th century by King Bayinnaung. The Third and the last Myanmar Empire was founded by King Alaungpaya in 1752. Myanmar was colonised by the British in the 19th century, in three stages: in 1825, 1852 and 1885. During the Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese for nearly three years until the British and Allied Forces’ reoccupation in 1945. Myanmar became an independent state on January 4, 1948. Since that time there has been instability in the country’s leadership, with leaders being ousted on numerous occasions. Until recently, Myanmar was lead by a military junta, with many of the elected government officials imprisoned or under house arrest – the most notable being Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2010, elections were held and a new government was elected.


Official Name: Union of Myanmar
Capital City: Yangon (Rangoon)
Population: ~54 million
Area: 679,000sqkm
(NSW:800,000; TX:692,000, UK:245,000)
Tribes/Languages: 135
Christianity: 4% (some estimate 10%)
GDP: US$60 bill.
(Aus: $890b; UK: $2,200b; USA: $14,700b)
GDP per capita: US$1100 (209th in the world)
Poverty: 32%
Life Expectancy: 64 years (Aus: 80 years)
Source: CIA World Fact Book

Website Links


Christians Concerned for Burma
Burma Project – Raising awareness on Burma
Christian Solidarity Worldwide – Voices for the voiceless


Online Burma Library – Library of documents relating to Myanmar.
BurmaNet News – news


Myanmar Ministry of Hotels & Tourism – Local tourism information…
Global Education (Australia) – land, people, economy…
CIA World Factobook – heaps of stuff!
Australian Government DFAT – economic, trade, human rights, travel advice…
AusAID – Australian govt aid in Myanmar
World Health Organisation Country Profile – health profile on Myanmar


Burma: Grace Under Pressure – Beautiful flash presentation


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