Myanmar (Burma)

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Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; independence from the Commonwealth was attained in 1948. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. Despite multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory, the ruling junta refused to hand over power. NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, was imprisoned in May 2003 and subsequently transferred to house arrest, where she remains virtually incommunicado. In November 2005, the junta extended her detention for at least another six months. Her supporters, as well as all those who promote democracy and improved human rights, are routinely harassed or jailed.


Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand

Geographic coordinates:

22 00 N, 98 00 E


total: 678,500 sq km
land: 657,740 sq km
water: 20,760 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 5,876 km
border countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, Thailand 1,800 km


1,930 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


tropical monsoon; cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers (southwest monsoon, June to September); less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter (northeast monsoon, December to April)


central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Andaman Sea 0 m
highest point: Hkakabo Razi 5,881 m

Natural resources:

petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 14.92%
permanent crops: 1.31%
other: 83.77% (2005)

Irrigated land:

18,700 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; industrial pollution of air, soil, and water; inadequate sanitation and water treatment contribute to disease

Geography - note:

strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes


note: estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 26.4% (male 6,335,236/female 6,181,216)
15-64 years: 68.5% (male 16,011,723/female 16,449,626)
65 years and over: 5.1% (male 1,035,853/female 1,368,979) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 27 years
male: 26.4 years
female: 27.6 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.81% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

17.91 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

9.83 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 61.85 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 72.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 50.38 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 60.97 years
male: 58.07 years
female: 64.03 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.98 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.2% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

330,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

20,000 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria are high risks in some locations (2005)


noun: Burmese (singular and plural)
adjective: Burmese

Ethnic groups:

Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%


Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%


Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.3%
male: 89.2%
female: 81.4% (2002)

Country name:

conventional long form: Union of Burma
conventional short form: Burma
local long form: Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw (translated by the US Government as Union of Myanma and by the Burmese as Union of Myanmar)
local short form: Myanma Naingngandaw
former: Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma
note: since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw

Government type:

military junta


Rangoon (government refers to capital as Yangon)
note: junta began shifting seat of government to Pyinmana area of central Burma in November 2005

Administrative divisions:

7 divisions (taing-myar, singular - taing) and 7 states (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne)
divisions: Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Yangon
states: Chin State, Kachin State, Kayah State, Kayin State, Mon State, Rakhine State, Shan State


4 January 1948 (from UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 4 January (1948); Union Day, 12 February (1947)


3 January 1974; suspended since 18 September 1988; national convention convened in 1993 to draft a new constitution but collapsed in 1996; reconvened in 2004 but does not include participation of democratic opposition

Legal system:

has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral People's Assembly or Pyithu Hluttaw (485 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 27 May 1990, but Assembly never allowed by junta to convene
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NLD 392 (opposition), SNLD 23 (opposition), NUP 10 (pro-government), other 60

Judicial branch:

remnants of the British-era legal system are in place, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial; the judiciary is not independent of the executive

Economy - overview:

Burma, a resource-rich country, suffers from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic policies, and rural poverty. The junta took steps in the early 1990s to liberalize the economy after decades of failure under the "Burmese Way to Socialism," but those efforts stalled, and some of the liberalization measures were rescinded. Burma does not have monetary or fiscal stability, so the economy suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including inflation, multiple official exchange rates that overvalue the Burmese kyat, and a distorted interest rate regime. Most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta began to suppress the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently refused to honor the results of the 1990 legislative elections. In response to the government of Burma's attack in May 2003 on AUNG SAN SUU KYI and her convoy, the US imposed new economic sanctions against Burma - including a ban on imports of Burmese products and a ban on provision of financial services by US persons. A poor investment climate further slowed the inflow of foreign exchange. The most productive sectors will continue to be in extractive industries, especially oil and gas, mining, and timber. Other areas, such as manufacturing and services, are struggling with inadequate infrastructure, unpredictable import/export policies, deteriorating health and education systems, and corruption. A major banking crisis in 2003 shuttered the country's 20 private banks and disrupted the economy. As of December 2005, the largest private banks operate under tight restrictions limiting the private sector's access to formal credit. Official statistics are inaccurate. Published statistics on foreign trade are greatly understated because of the size of the black market and unofficial border trade - often estimated to be as large as the official economy. Burma's trade with Thailand, China, and India is rising. Though the Burmese government has good economic relations with its neighbors, better investment and business climates and an improved political situation are needed to promote foreign investment, exports, and tourism.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$76.36 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$8.042 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

1.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,600 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 54.6%
industry: 13%
services: 32.4% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

27.75 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 70%
industry: 7%
services: 23% (2001)

Unemployment rate:

5% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

25% (2000 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

25% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

11.5% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $473.3 million
expenditures: $716.6 million; including capital expenditures of $5.7 billion (FY04/05 est.)

Agriculture - products:

rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products


agricultural processing; knit and woven apparel; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer; cement; natural gas

Electricity - production:

7.393 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

6.875 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

18,500 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

32,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:

3,356 bbl/day (2003)

Oil - imports:

49,230 bbl/day (2003)

Oil - proved reserves:

less than 1 billion bbl (2005)

Natural gas - production:

9.98 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

1.569 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - exports:

8.424 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

283.2 billion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

-$215 million (2005 est.)


$3.111 billion f.o.b.
note: official export figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of timber, gems, narcotics, rice, and other products smuggled to Thailand, China, and Bangladesh (2004)

Exports - commodities:

clothing, gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice

Exports - partners:

Thailand 38.9%, India 11.5%, China 5.9%, Japan 5.2% (2004)


$3.454 billion f.o.b.
note: import figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of consumer goods, diesel fuel, and other products smuggled in from Thailand, China, Malaysia, and India (2004)

Imports - commodities:

fabric, petroleum products, plastics, machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, crude oil; food products

Imports - partners:

China 29.8%, Singapore 20.8%, Thailand 19.3%, South Korea 5.2%, Malaysia 4.8% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$721.1 million (June 2005)

Debt - external:

$6.967 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$127 million (2001 est.)

Currency (code):

kyat (MMK)

Fiscal year:

1 April - 31 March

Telephones - main lines in use:

424,900 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

92,500 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: barely meets minimum requirements for local and intercity service for business and government; international service is fair
domestic: NA
international: country code - 95; satellite earth station - 2, Intelsat (Indian Ocean), and ShinSat

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 1, FM 1 (2004)

Television broadcast stations:

2 (2004)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

43 (2005)

Internet users:

63,700 (2005)


84 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 19
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 65
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 32 (2005)


1 (2005)


gas 2,056 km; oil 558 km (2004)


total: 3,955 km
narrow gauge: 3,955 km 1.000-m gauge (2004)


total: 27,000 km
paved: 3,200 km
unpaved: 23,800 km (2005)


12,800 km (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 34 ships (1000 GRT or over) 402,724 GRT/620,642 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 8, cargo 18, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 3, roll on/roll off 2, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 9 (Germany 5, Japan 4) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Moulmein, Rangoon, Sittwe

Military branches:

Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw): Army, Navy, Air Force (2005)

Disputes - international:

over half of Burma's population consists of diverse ethnic groups with substantial numbers of kin beyond its borders; despite continuing border committee talks, significant differences remain with Thailand over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities; ethnic Karens flee into Thailand to escape fighting between Karen rebels and Burmese troops; in 2005 Thailand sheltered about 121,000 Burmese refugees; Karens also protest Thai support for a Burmese hydroelectric dam on the Salween River near the border; environmentalists in Burma and Thailand continue to voice concern over China's construction of hydroelectric dams upstream on the Nujiang/Salween River in Yunnan Province; India seeks cooperation from Burma to keep Indian Nagaland separatists from hiding in remote Burmese uplands

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

IDPs: 550,000-1,000,000 (government offensives against ethnic insurgent groups near borders; most IDPs are ethnic Karen, Karenni, Shan, Tavoyan, and Mon) (2005)

Illicit drugs:

remains world's second largest producer of illicit opium (estimated production in 2004 - 292 metric tons, down 40% from 2003 due to eradication efforts and drought; cultivation in 2004 - 30,900 hectares, a 34% decline from 2003); lack of government will to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort; major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption; currently under Financial Action Task Force countermeasures due to continued failure to address its inadequate money-laundering controls (2005)