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 by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal and on the west by Bangladesh and India. It is located between latitudes 09 32'N and 28 31'N and longitudes 92 10'E and 101 11'E.
The country covers an area of 676,578 km2 (40th) square kilometers (261,228 square miles) ranging 936 kilometers (600 miles) from the east to west and 2015 kilometers (1275 miles) from north to south. It is a land of hills and valleys and is rimmed in the north, east and west by mountain ranges forming a giant horseshoe. Enclosed within the mountain barriers are the flat lands of Ayeyarwady, Chindwin and Sittaung River valleys where most of the country's agricultural land and population are concentrated.
East longitude 96 13'nd North Latitude 16 45'run through Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. The Myanmar Standard Time, taken as on East Longitude 97 30', is 6 hours 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich meantime. 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). It consists of two parts, namely the Naaf River boundary 64 kilometers (39.5 miles) and the land boundary 208 kilometers (129.2 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).
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 which starts from November and lasts to the end of February with temperature in hilly areas of over 3000 feet drops below 32F (0C).
As a whole, the location and topography of the country generate a diversity of climatic conditions. Seasonal changes in the monsoon wind directions create summer, rainy and winter seasons. Extremes of temperature are rare. The direction of winds and depression bring rain, and although it is always heavy in the coastal areas during Monsoon season, it seldom creates hardships. The Government is giving priority to forest conservation and greening of nine arid districts in central Myanmar.
Monthly Average Temperature (C) in Yangon
Flora and Fauna
Myanmar is endowed with a rich diversity of habitat types arising largely from its unusual ecological diversity. It is home to nearly 300 known mammal species, 300 reptiles about 100 bird species, and a haven for about 7000 species of plant life. The potential worth of plant species in Myanmar is considerable. Since Myanmar considers such a rich pool of biodiversity as an important national asset, the Government of the Union of Myanmar has drawn up strict regulations to protect its reservoir of biodiversity and biological resources.
Archaelogical 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, there are today a fascinating 135 nationalities who call Myanmar home.
Myanmar history dates back to the early 11th Century when King Anawrahta unified the country and founded the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan more than 20 years before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066(i.e. 1044 A.D.). The Bagan Empire encompassed the areas of the present day Myanmar and the entire Menam Valley in Thailand and lasted two centuries.
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.
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.
The Union of Myanmar is made up of 135 national races, of which the main national races are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. Population of the country is estimated at 52.4 million (July, 2003) and the population growth rate is 1.84 percent.
8 Major National Races
Composition of 135 Ethnic Groups
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Economy of Myanmar
1 April - 31 March
$78.74 billion (2005 est.) (66th )
2.9% (2005 est.)
GDP per capita
$1,700 (2005 est.)
GDP by sector
agriculture: 56.4%, industry: 8.2%, services: 35.3% (2005 est.)
20.2% (2005 est.)
Populationbelow poverty line
25% (2000 est.)
27.75 million (2005 est.)
Labour forceby occupation
agriculture: 70%, industry: 7%, services: 23% (2001)
5% (2005 est.)
Agricultural Processing, Textiles and Footwear, Wood and Wood Products, Metallurgical industry(Copper, Tin, Tungsten, Iron),
Construction Materials, Pharmaceuticals, Fertilizer industry
$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)
clothing, gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice
Main export partners
Thailand 44.9%, India 11.5%, the People's Republic of China 6.9%, Japan 5.1% (2005)
$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)
fabric, petroleum products, plastics, machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, crude oil; food products
Main import partners
China 29.3%, Thailand 22.2%, Singapore 18.7%, Malaysia 5.4% (2005)
$6.99 billion (2005 est.)
$473.3 million (FY04/05 est.)
$716.6 million; including capital expenditures of $5.7 billion (FY04/05 est.)
recipient: $127 million (2001 est.)
Main sourceAll values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars
Myanmar is one of the poorest nations in the world, suffering from decades of stagnation, mismanagement, and isolation. Myanmar’s GDP grows only 2.9% annually -- the lowest rate of economic growth in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Under British administration, Burma was one of the wealthiest countries in Southeast Asia. It was once the world's largest exporter of rice. During British administration, Burma supplied oil through the Burmah Oil Company. Burma also had a wealth of natural and labor resources. It produced 75% of the world's teak, and had a highly literate population. The country was believed to be on the fast track to development.
After a parliamentary government was formed in 1948, Prime Minister U Nu attempted to make Burma a welfare state. His administration adopted the Two-Year Economic Development Plan, which was a failure.
When Burma gained independence in 1948, it was believed to be on its way to become the first Asian Tiger in the region. However, after the military dictatorship seized power in 1962, Burma became an isolated and impoverished nation.
After the 1962 military coup d'état, the military government introduced an economic plan called the Burmese Way to Socialism, under which the military regime nationalized all industries with the exception of agriculture. In 1989, the Burmese government began decentralizing economic control. It has since liberalized certain sectors of the economy. The government heavily regulates lucrative industries, such as gems, oil, and forestry. These sectors have recently been exploited by foreign corporations, which have partnered with the government to gain access to Burmese natural resources.
The economy of Myanmar is currently mixed. The private sector dominates in agriculture, light industry, and transport activities, while the military government controls mainly energy, heavy industry, and rice trade.
Myanmar was designated a least developed country in 1987. Private enterprises are often co-owned or indirectly owned by the Tatmadaw. In recent years, both China and India have attempted to strengthen ties with the government for economic benefit. Many nations, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, have imposed investment and trade sanctions on Myanmar. Foreign investment comes primarily from China, Singapore, South Korea, India, and Thailand.
In the eleven years from 1989-1999, the military government tried to revitalize the economy after three decades of tight central planning. However the regime has recently canceled its reforms. Despite this, the private sector continues to grow albeit slowly.
1 Macro-economic trend
2 Economy Today
4 Humanitarian Aid
5 Recent Economic Protests
6 Other statistics
8 See also
9 External Link
This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Myanmar at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund and EconStats with figures in millions of Myanma kyats.
Gross Domestic Product
US dollar exchange
Inflation index (2000=100)
Though foreign investment has been encouraged, it has so far met with only moderate success. This is because foreign investors have been adversely affected by the junta government policies and because of international pressure to boycott the junta government. The United States has placed trade sanctions on Myanmar. The European Union has placed embargoes on arms, non-humanitarian aid, visa bans on military regime leaders, and limited investment bans. Both the European Union and the U.S. have placed sanctions on grounds of human rights violations in the country. However, many nations in Asia, particularly India, Thailand and China have actively traded with Myanmar.
The public sector enterprises remain highly inefficient and also privatization efforts have stalled. The estimates of Burmese foreign trade are highly ambiguous because of the great volume of black market trading. A major ongoing problem is the failure to achieve monetary and fiscal stability. Due to this, Myanmar remains a poor country with no improvement of living standards for the majority of the population over the past decade. The main causes for continued sluggish growth are poor government planning, internal unrest, minimal foreign investment and the large trade deficit. One of the recent government initiatives is to utilize Myanmar's large natural gas deposits. Currently, Myanmar has attracted investment from Thai, Malaysian, Russian, Australian, Indian, and Singaporean companies.
Myanmar is the poorest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. (nominally $97 as in 2005)
According to the CIA World Factbook,
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.
Today, Myanmar lacks adequate infrastructure. Goods travel primarily across the Burmese-Thai border, whence most illegal drugs are exported, and along the Ayeyarwady River. Railroads are old and rudimentary, with few repairs since their construction in the 1800s. Highways are normally unpaved, except in the major cities. Energy shortages are common throughout the country including in Yangon. Myanmar is also the world's second largest producer of opium, accounting for 8% of entire world production and is a major source of narcotics, including amphetamines. Other industries include agricultural goods, textiles, wood products, construction materials, gems, metals, oil and natural gas.
Burmese exports in 2006
The major agricultural product is rice which covers about 60% of the country’s total cultivated land area. Rice accounts for 97% of total food grain production by weight. Through collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), 52 modern rice varieties were released in Myanmar between 1966 and 1997, helping increase national rice production to 14 million tons in 1987 and to 19 million tons in 1996. By 1988, modern varieties were planted on half of the country’s ricelands, including 98 percent of the irrigated areas PDF (21.2 KiB).
The lack of an educated workforce skilled in modern technology contributes to the growing problems of the Burmese economy. 1.1
Inflation is a serious problem for the Burmese economy. In April 2007, the National League for Democracy organized a two-day workshop on the economy. The workshop concluded that skyrocketing inflation was impeding economic growth. “Basic commodity prices have increased from 30 to 60 percent since the military regime promoted a salary increase for government workers in April 2006,” said Soe Win, the moderator of the workshop. “Inflation is also correlated with corruption.” Myint Thein, an NLD spokesperson, added: “Inflation is the critical source of the current economic crisis.” 
Since 1992, the government has encouraged tourism. However, fewer than 750,000 tourists enter the country annually.
Tourism remains nevertheless a growing sector of the economy of Myanmar. Myanmar has diverse and varied tourist attractions and is served internationally by numerous airlines via direct flights. Domestic and foreign airlines also operate flights within the country. Cruise ships also dock at Yangon. Overland entry with a border pass is permitted at several border checkpoints. The government requires a valid passport with an entry visa for all tourists and business people. Both the tourist visa and business visa are valid for 28 days, renewable for an additional 14 days for tourism and 3 months for business. Seeing Myanmar through a personal tour guide is popular. Travelers can hire guides through travel agencies.
Please Note: Democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi has pleaded with the people of the world to not visit Burma, as the tourism industry is controlled by the Military Junta. Tourism in Burma strengthens the Junta and continues the opression of the Burmese people.
In April 2007, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified the financial and other restrictions that the military government places on international humanitarian assistance in the Southeast Asian country.
The GAO report, entitled "Assistance Programs Constrained in Burma," outlines the specific efforts of the Burmese government to hinder the humanitarian work of international organizations, including by restricting the free movement of international staff within the country. The report notes that the regime has tightened its control over assistance work since former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was purged in October 2004. Furthermore, the reports states that the military government passed guidelines in February 2006, which formalized Burma's restrictive policies. According to the report, the guidelines require that programs run by humanitarian groups "enhance and safeguard the national interest" and that international organizations coordinate with state agents and select their Burmese staff from government-prepared lists of individuals. United Nations officials have declared these restrictions unacceptable.
"The shameful behavior of Burma's military regime in tying the hand of humanitarian organizations is laid out in these pages for all to see, and it must come to an end," said U.S. Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA). "In eastern Burma, where the military regime has burned or otherwise destroyed over 3,000 villages, humanitarian relief has been decimated. At least one million people have fled their homes and many are simply being left to die in the jungle."
U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said that the report "underscores the need for democratic change in Burma, whose military regime arbitrarily arrests, tortures, rapes and executes its own people, ruthlessly persecutes ethnic minorities, and bizarrely builds itself a new capital city while failing to address the increasingly urgent challenges of refugee flows, illicit narcotics and human trafficking, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases." 
Recent Economic Protests
The Burmese military junta detained eight people on Sunday, April 22, 2007 who took part in a rare demonstration in a Yangon suburb amid a growing military crackdown on protesters. A group of about ten protesters carrying placards and chanting slogans staged the protest Sunday morning in Yangon's Thingangyun township, calling for lower prices and improved health, education and better utility services. The protest ended peacefully after about 70 minutes, but plainclothes police took away eight demonstrators as some 100 onlookers watched. It could not immediately be determined if they were arrested on criminal charges. The protesters carried placards with slogans such as "Down with consumer prices."
The junta tolerates little dissent and strictly curbs press freedoms. Some of those detained were the same protesters who took part in a downtown Yangon protest on February 22, 2007, said the witnesses who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals by the government. That protest was one of the first demonstrations in recent years to challenge the junta's economic mismanagement rather than its legal right to rule. The protesters detained in the February rally had said they were released after signing an acknowledgment of police orders that they should not hold any future public demonstrations without first obtaining official permission.
The Burmese military government stated its intention to crack down on these human rights activists, according to an April 23, 2007, report in the country’s official press. The announcement, that comprised a full page of the official newspaper, followed calls by human rights advocacy groups, including London-based Amnesty International, for Burmese authorities to investigate recent violent attacks on rights activists in the country.
Two members of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters, Maung Maung Lay, 37, and Myint Naing, 40, were hospitalized with head injuries following attacks by more than 50 people while the two were working in Hinthada township, Irrawaddy Division in mid-April. On Sunday, April 22, 2007, eight people were arrested by plainclothes police, members of the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Association, and the Pyithu Swan Arr Shin (a paramilitary group) while demonstrating peacefully in a Rangoon suburb. The eight protesters were calling for lower commodity prices, better health-care and improved utility services. Htin Kyaw, 44, one of the eight who also took part in an earlier demonstration in late February in downtown Rangoon, was beaten by a mob, according to sources at the scene of the protest.
Reports from Burmese opposition activists have emerged in recent weeks saying that Burmese authorities have directed the police and other government proxy groups to deal harshly with any sign of unrest in Rangoon. “This proves that there is no rule of law [in Burma],” the 88 Generation Students group said in a statement issued on April 23, 2007. “We seriously urge the authorities to prevent violence in the future and to guarantee the safety of every citizen plained some unclear events.