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Burma (Myanmar) Culture, Geography and History
Geography and Environment of Burma (Myanmar)
Sharing borders with China, Bangladesh, India, Laos and Thailand, Burma is characterised by a horseshoe of mountains and hills that surround the country from the north, east and west. Subtropical forest is the dominant natural environment throughout Burma, with the exception of low-lying tracts of land used for agriculture. From the coast of the Andaman Sea to the edge of the Himalayas, Burma's landscapes are incredibly beautiful and provide the perfect backdrop for hiking and other outdoors activities, nature photography and relaxation.
History and Government of Burma (Myanmar)
It has been estimated that the land now known as Burma has been inhabited since 11,000 BC. Archaeological evidence garnered from burial sites indicates early settlements were largely concentrated near the Ayeyarwaddy River, with agriculture and animal husbandry prevailing by 1500 BC. Later, larger settlements or city states were created by the peaceful Pyu people, who migrated from the north sometime around 1 BC, bringing Buddhism to Burma. With the Mon people entering from the south during the 6th century, and sustained attacks from the north occurring up to the 9th century, the Pyu people became absorbed into the general population to shape the face of future Burmese ethnicity. The Bagan Empire ruled Burma from 1044 to 1287 and with a burgeoning agriculture and trade economy, was able to build thousands of Buddhist temples, many of which are still present today. By the 13th century, the Bagan Empire had begun to decline due to economic mismanagement and foreign invasion from the Mongols and the Mon people. Burma's seesawing fortunes continued for centuries, with war, invasion and changes in rule commonplace over the years.
By 1886, Britain claimed Burma as a province of India, with Rangoon being named capital. This period of British rule impacted on Burmese society greatly, with the culture, religion, economy and society vastly changing at the hands of the British. The local population saw little of the economic benefits flowing from increased trade and agriculture cultivation, and with many villages being destroyed, this period of history marks a difficult time for the Burmese. World War II saw Burma's movements towards independence grow, and by 1948 Burma was granted independence. Decades of change and political instability followed, with an unstable parliament and several military coups creating uncertainty around the newly Socialist country. Burma seemingly lurched from crisis to crisis, plagued by corruption, inflation and volatility from the 1960s to 1990s. With increasing trade embargoes, protests, sanctions and international pressure, the military government was forced to cease the imprisonment of democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi and instate democracy to the country once again. With elections being held in 2010, Burma could finally be on the road to restoring democracy, peace and prosperity to the population.
Burma (Myanmar) at a glance
- 53.9 million
- (GMT+06:30) Yangon (Rangoon)
- Type C (European 2-pin), Type D (Old British 3-pin), Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth), Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
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