Myanmar is the name which has long been used by its people to describe their homeland which the British called Burma . Also known as the Golden Land for its rich land and the wealth of its agriculture and minerals. Myanmar , with a total area of 676, 577 square kilo-meters, is the largest mainland in South-East Asia. It shares a total of 5858 km (3640 miles) of international borders with Bangladesh and India on the North-West, China on the North-East, Laos on the East and Thailand on the South-East. It has a total length of 2832 km (1760 miles) of coastlines. The country stretches 2090 km (1299 miles) from North to South and 925 km (575 miles) from East to West at its widest points. The official name is the Union of Myanmar .
Myanmar enjoys a tropical climate with three general seasons: The rainy season from mid-May to mid-October; the cool season (cold season) from mid-October to mid-February and the hot season (summer) from mid-February to mid-May before the rains begin. The best time to visit Myanmar is from mid-October to mid-May during open season.
Early history of Myanmar began with the founding of the first capital of the Myanmar Kings at Tagaung, 100 miles up-river from Mandalay, reputed to have been thriving during the 5th Century B.C. The Pyu Civilization which followed flourished in the Ayeyawady valley from Tagaung to Pyay (former Prome) in the 1st Century B.C., and reached a high level of economic, social and cultural development. Myanmar’s greatness in history dates back to 11th Century. There were three golden periods in Myanmar history, King Anawrahta consolidated the whole country into the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan (1044 AD- 1077 AD). The Bagan Empire encompassed the area of the present-day Myanmar and the entire Menam Valley in Thailand and lasted two centuries. The Bagan Dynasty collapsed with the invasion of the Mongols under Kublai Khan in the 13th Century. The Second Myanmar Empire of the Toungoo Period (1551 A.D-1581 AD) was founded by King Bayint Naung; and King Alaungpaya founded the Third Myanmar Empire in 1752. It was during the zenith of the Konbaung Dynasty that the British moved into Myanmar . Myanmar became a British colony after three Anglo-Myanmar Wars in 1825, 1852 and 1885.During the World War II, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 till the return of the Allied Forces in1945. Myanmar regained the status of a “Sovereign Independent State” on 4th January, 1948, after 123 years of British colonial administration.
The first imperial capital of Myanmar , Bagan , became a world center of the Theravada Buddhism by the start of the 12th Century A.D. Successive kings and their subjects choose to glorify their faith through the lavish and ambitious construction of monuments and Buddhist culture. Theravada Buddhism is the predominant religion with about 89.4 percent of the people embracing it. The said Buddhist percentage of the population-mainly are Bamars, Shans, Mons, Rakhines and some Kayins. There are also Christians, Muslims, Hindus and some animists. The Christian population is composed mainly of Kayins, Kachins and Chins. Islam and Hinduism are practiced mainly by people of Indian origin.
Myanmar’s population, spread over 7 States and 7 Divisions, is about 47 million in 1996. It is a Union of nationalities as many as 135 groups, with their own languages and dialects. The term Myanmar embraces all nationalities: the Bamar , the Kachin, the Kayah, the Kayin, the Chin , the Mon, the Rakhine and the Shan . The Bamars make up about 69 percent of the total population. The population growth rate is 1.88 percent.
Myanmar lies in a meeting place of two of the world’s great civilizations – China and India – but its culture is neither that of India nor China exclusively, but a blend of both interspersed with Myanmar native traits and characteristics. Buddhism has great influence on daily life of the Myanmars . Myanmar people have preserved the traditions of close family ties, respect for the elders, reverence for Buddhism and simple native dress. Myanmar people are fun Loving and festivals form the center of Myanmar social life and each month has its own festive occasion. Myanmars are known for their simplicity, honesty, generosity, hospitality and friendliness.
Since late 1988, Myanmar has replaced the centrally planned economy with a more liberalized economic policy based on market-oriented system. In moving towards a more market-oriented economy, Myanmar has liberalized domestic and external trade, promoting the role of private sector and opening up to foreign investment. The Union of Myanmar Foreign Investment Commission has been set up. Foreign Investment Law, New Central Bank Of Myanmar Law, Financial Institutions of Myanmar Law and Myanmar Tourism Law have been enacted and “Chamber of Commerce and Industry” had been reactivated. Myanmar is richly endowed with renewable and non-renewable energy resources which are being exploited by the State sector with the participation of local and foreign investors. Agriculture remains the main sector of the economy and measures have been taken to increase productivity, diversification of crop patterns and revitalization of agriculture exports.
The flag was adopted on 3 January 1974, the year when Burma became the Socialist Republic of the Myanmar. Since then the state has changed its name, but not its flag.
The dominating color of the Myanmar national flag is red. The rectangular space at the upper left corner is blue. It could be seen the figure of a paddy stalk and a pinion encircled by 14 white stars of uniform size. The paddy represents the peasants while the pinion stands for the workers giving prominence to peasants and workers who form the majority of the people in the country. The fourteen uniform white stars symbolize the equal status and union spirit of the 14 States and Divisions that constitute the Union of Myanmar. The center of the pinion coincides with the center of the blue canton. The pinion has fourteen cogs of equal size and within it are two ears of paddy consisting of 34 grains.
The white in the flag signifies purity; the red indicates bravery and upright nature of the people; and the blue stands as a symbol of peace and stability in the country.
The current national seal was officially adopted on 3rd January 1974 in accordance with Article 191/192 of the constitution of the Union of Myanmar which was adopted by the national referendum conducted in the previous year. However on 18 September 1988 the state law and order restoration council took over the responsibilities of the state. The previous Socialist system ceased to exist when the new government adopted a new policy towards establishing a multiparty democratic system along with a market-oriented economic policy. Therefore the Myanmar word meaning “socialist republic” was deleted from the seal. Except for that minor alteration the other features of the state emblem remain unchanged.
The distinguishing features of the State Seal are as follows: –
At the center of the State Seal is a pinion with fourteen equal-sized cogs on which the map of Myanmar is superimposed. The pinion and the map are encircled with two ears of paddy.
An artistic Myanmar Lion flanks the ears of paddy on each side. The Lion on the right side faces towards the right and the one on the left side faces towards the left.
The words “The Union of Myanmar” are inscribed in Myanmar below the lions and the ears of paddy.
At the top of the State Seal is a star with five vertices. Myanmar floral designs are etched on either side of the ears of paddy and the star.
Myanmar floral designs are etched on either side of the ears of paddy and the star.
State & Division
Myanmar is organized into the following seven States and seven Divisions:- The States are Kachin State, Kayah State, Kayin State, Chin State, Mon State, Rakhine State and Shan State;
The Divisions are Ayeyawady Division, Bago Division, Magway Division, Mandalay Division, Sagaing Division, Taninthayi Division and Yangon Division.
It is a Union of nationalities as many as 135 groups, with their own languages and dialects. The term Myanmar embraces all nationalities: the Kachin, the Kayah, the Kayin, the Chin , the Bamar , the Mon, the Rakhine and the Shan . The Bamars make up about 69 percent of the total population.