About Myanmar

Myanmar formerly known as Burma is located in SE Asia with short borders to Laos and Bangladesh, long borders to Thailand, China and India and includes almost 2000 kms of coastline facing the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. A former colony of the British Empire, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar gained its independence on 4 January 1948. In 2005 the capital was moved from Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) to Nay Pyi Taw about 200kms inland. Myanmar is a member of ASEAN. (Association of South East Asian Nations)

After more than 40 years of political, economic and social isolation Myanmar is currently undergoing a process of significant change in all areas of life, lead by President Thein Sein and a more representative parliament that includes Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other member of the National League for Democracy. The next election is planned for 2015.

The people of Myanmar rank among the 25% world’s poorest on the United Nations Human Development Index, with a 2011 ranking of 149 out of 187 countries in 3 key dimensions: health, education and income. While there is some population drift to the cities, most of the population are subsistence farmers with little access to the benefits of development including electricity, safe water supply, sanitation,health and education facilities.

Long running internal conflicts between the government and various ethnic groups have resulted in large numbers of internally displaced people, primarily in camps along the Myanmar/Thai border. While almost all these conflicts now have peace agreements in place, the return of internally displaced people presents additional issues to be addressed including housing and income generation.

The estimated population of about 60 million comprises people from a large number of different ethnic and language groups and is approximately 89% Buddhist, 4% Muslim and 5% Christian, underpinned by a history of animism and beings known as ‘Nats’.

The opening up of Myanmar presents the international community with great opportunities to contribute to the development of this remarkable country and its patient, hopeful people.

Facts and Figures

Full Name of Country: 
Union of Myanmar
Capital City: 
Yangon (Rangoon - Population 5 million)
671,000 sq Km (416,000 sq Mi)
55 million (growth rate 2.1%)
65% Burmese
10% Shan
7% Karen
4% Rakhine & Chin, Kachin, Mon, Chinese, Indian and Assamese minorities
Burmese, also Karen, Chin, Shan & Kachin dialects
87% Theravada Buddhist
5% Christian
4% Muslim
3% Animist
State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
Head of State: 
President Htin Kyaw
Annual Growth: 
Major Industries: 
Teak, Rice and Jute
Major Trading Partners: 
Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan and India