The Union of Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia, formerly known as Burma. The name of the country was changed in 1989, and this change of name has been officially recognized by the United Nations. Some national governments, such as the United States and United Kingdom, and much of the Burmese population, do not recognize this change of name, since they do not recognize the military government which instituted it. For the time being, however, Myanmar, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw, is still used by many regardless of their opinion of the military government.
Main article: History of Myanmar
Previously an independent kingdom, in 1886 Burma was annexed by the British Empire to the colony of India. The Japanese Empire invaded and occupied the country during World War II but it was returned to British control.
In 1948 the nation became sovereign, as the Union of Burma, with U Nu as the first Prime Minister. Democratic rule ended in 1962 with a military coup led by General Ne Win. Win ruled for nearly 26 years, bringing in harsh reforms. In 1990 free elections were held, but were voided by the military, which refused to step down.
Main article: Politics of Myanmar
Burma has been under military rule since 1988. The current head of state is General Than Shwe who holds the title of "Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council." His appointed prime minister was Khin Nyunt until 19 October 2004, when he was replaced by Lt.-Gen. Soe Win. Almost all cabinet offices are held by military officers. Sanctions against the military government have been largely ineffective, due to loopholes in the sanctions. For example, the French petroleum company Total is able to buy Burma's oil despite the country being under sanctions 1. The United States clothing and shoe industry could also be affected if all the sanctions loopholes were to be closed 2.
The regime is accused of having a poor human rights record. There is no independent judiciary in Myanmar and political opposition to the military government is not tolerated.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who was elected prime minister in 1990, but prevented by military from taking office, has earned international praise as an activist for democratic rule to return to Myanmar. She has been repeatedly placed under house arrest, although in recent years the regime has been willing to enter into negotiations with her and her party, the National League for Democracy.
- Visa requirements for tourists: At the border one needs to obtain a travel visa, which permits one to visit certain areas within the country for one or more days (usually ones point of entry, and optionally the capital Rangoon). A traveller's passport must be valid for the six months following his or her date of travel.
Main article: Administrative divisions of Myanmar
Myanmar is divided into 7 divisions and 7 states. The divisions are Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi and Yangon. The states are Chin State, Kachin State, Kayin State, Kayah State, Mon State, Rakhine State, and Shan State.
Main article: Geography of Myanmar
Main article: Economy of Myanmar
Main article: Demographics of Myanmar
Main article: Culture of Myanmar
Many of the people, both men and women, wear lonygis or a type of sarong.
- See "Dilemma of dealing with Burma". Article retrieved from BBC.co.uk on 2nd November, 2004.
- See "How Best to Rid the World of Monsters". Article retrieved from Washingtonpost.com on 2nd November, 2004.
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