Introduction ::Burma
Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; independence from the Commonwealth was attained in 1948. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. In September 1988, the military deposed NE WIN and established a new ruling junta. Despite multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory, the junta refused to hand over power. NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, was imprisoned in May 2003 and subsequently transferred to house arrest. After the ruling junta in August 2007 unexpectedly increased fuel prices, tens of thousands of Burmese marched in protest, led by prodemocracy activists and Buddhist monks. In late September 2007, the government brutally suppressed the protests, killing at least 13 people and arresting thousands for participating in the demonstrations. Since then, the regime has continued to raid homes and monasteries and arrest persons suspected of participating in the pro-democracy protests. The junta appointed Labor Minister AUNG KYI in October 2007 as liaison to AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who remains under house arrest and only recently gained the opportunity for limited communication with NLD leaders. Burma in early May 2008 was struck by Cyclone Nargis which official estimates claimed left over 80,000 dead and 50,000 injured. Despite this tragedy, the junta proceeded with its May constitutional referendum, the first vote in Burma since 1990, setting the stage for the 2010 parliamentary elections. AUNG SAN SUU KYI's house arrest was due to end in May 2009, but was extended for eighteen months after she was convicted for violating the terms of her house arrest.
Geography ::Burma
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand
22 00 N, 98 00 E
total: 676,578 sq km
country comparison to the world: 40
land: 653,508 sq km
water: 23,070 sq km
slightly smaller than Texas
total: 5,876 km
border countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, Thailand 1,800 km
1,930 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Current Weather
tropical monsoon; cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers (southwest monsoon, June to September); less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter (northeast monsoon, December to April)
central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands
lowest point: Andaman Sea 0 m
highest point: Hkakabo Razi 5,881 m
petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower
arable land: 14.92%
permanent crops: 1.31%
other: 83.77% (2005)
18,700 sq km (2003)
1,045.6 cu km (1999)
total: 33.23 cu km/yr (1%/1%/98%)
per capita: 658 cu m/yr (2000)
destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts
deforestation; industrial pollution of air, soil, and water; inadequate sanitation and water treatment contribute to disease
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes
People ::Burma
country comparison to the world: 26
note: estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)
0-14 years: 25.3% (male 6,193,263/female 5,990,658)
15-64 years: 69.3% (male 16,510,648/female 16,828,462)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,121,412/female 1,493,298) (2010 est.)
total: 26.5 years
male: 26 years
female: 27.1 years (2010 est.)
0.783% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
16.97 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
9.14 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
urban population: 33% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
total: 47.61 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 54
male: 53.78 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 41.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
total population: 63.39 years
country comparison to the world: 172
male: 61.17 years
female: 65.74 years (2010 est.)
2.28 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
0.7% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
240,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
25,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
noun: Burmese (singular and plural)
adjective: Burmese
Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.9%
male: 93.9%
female: 86.4% (2006 est.)
total: 8 years
male: 8 years
female: 8 years (2001)
1.2% of GDP (2001)
country comparison to the world: 178
Government ::Burma
conventional long form: Union of Burma
conventional short form: Burma
local long form: Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw (translated by the US Government as Union of Myanma and by the Burmese as Union of Myanmar)
local short form: Myanma Naingngandaw
former: Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma
note: since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw
military regime
name: Rangoon (Yangon)
geographic coordinates: 16 48 N, 96 09 E
time difference: UTC+6.5 (11.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Nay Pyi Taw is administrative capital
7 divisions (taing-myar, singular - taing) and 7 states* (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne)
divisions: Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Yangon
states: Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine (Arakan), Shan
4 January 1948 (from the UK)
Independence Day, 4 January (1948); Union Day, 12 February (1947)
3 January 1974; suspended since 18 September 1988; a constitution officially received 92.48% support in a flawed May 2008 referendum that most observers judged fell far short of international standards of free and fair elections; note - a new constitution is to take effect when a parliament is convened following elections planned for 2010
based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Sr. Gen. THAN SHWE (since 23 April 1992)
head of government: Prime Minister Lt. Gen THEIN SEIN (since 24 October 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet is overseen by the military regime that assumed power 18 September 1988 under the name State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC); changed in 1997 to SPDC
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elections: none
a unicameral People's Assembly or Pyithu Hluttaw was elected in 1990 but was never seated; according to the terms of the constitution approved on 10 May 2008, a bicameral Pyidaungsu Hluttaw consisting of an upper house with a maximum of 224 seats and a lower house with a maximum of 440 seats will be selected in elections planned for 2010; 25% of both houses are to be reserved for appointed members of the military
elections: last held on 27 May 1990, but the regime never allowed the Assembly to convene (next to be held on 7 November 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NLD 392 (opposition), SNLD 23 (opposition), NUP 10 (pro-government), other 60
remnants of the British-era legal system are in place, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial; the judiciary is not independent of the executive
National Democratic Force or NDF [THAN NYEIN]; National League for Democracy or NLD [AUNG SHWE, AUNG SAN SUU KYI] note: the party is defunct because it did not register for the 2010 election; National Unity Party or NUP [TUN YE]; Shan Nationalities League for Democracy or SNLD [HKUN HTUN OO]; Union Solidarity and Development Party or USDP [THEIN SEIN]; numerous smaller parties
Thai border: Ethnic Nationalities Council or ENC; Federation of Trade Unions-Burma or FTUB (exile trade union and labor advocates); National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma or NCGUB (self-proclaimed government in exile) ["Prime Minister" Dr. SEIN WIN] consists of individuals, some legitimately elected to the People's Assembly in 1990 (the group fled to a border area and joined insurgents in December 1990 to form parallel government in exile); National Council-Union of Burma or NCUB (exile coalition of opposition groups)
Inside Burma: Kachin Independence Organization or KIO; Karen National Union or KNU; Karenni National People's Party or KNPP; Union Solidarity and Development Association or USDA (pro-regime, a social and political mass-member organization) [HTAY OO, general secretary] became the Union Solidarity and Development Party in 2010; United Wa State Army or UWSA; 88 Generation Students (pro-democracy movement); several other Shan factions
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires HAN THU - note: Burma does not have an ambassador to the United States
chancery: 2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-3344
FAX: [1] (202) 332-4351
consulate(s) general: none; Burma has a Mission to the UN in New York
chief of mission: Charge d'Affaires Larry M. DINGER - note: The United States does not have an ambassador to Burma
embassy: 110 University Avenue, Kamayut Township, Rangoon
mailing address: Box B, APO AP 96546
telephone: [95] (1) 536-509, 535-756, 538-038
FAX: [95] (1) 650-306
red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 14, white, five-pointed stars encircling a cogwheel containing a stalk of rice; the colors stand for courage (red), peace (blue), and purity (white); the rice plant and cogwheel symbolize agriculture and industry repectively; the 14 stars represent the seven administrative divisions and seven states of the country
note: somewhat resembles the flag of Taiwan
Economy ::Burma
Burma, a resource-rich country, suffers from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic policies, and rural poverty. Despite Burma's emergence as a natural gas exporter, socio-economic conditions have deteriorated under the regime's mismanagement, leaving most of the public in poverty, while military leaders and their business cronies exploit the country's ample natural resources. The economy suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including rising inflation, fiscal deficits, multiple official exchange rates that overvalue the Burmese kyat, a distorted interest rate regime, unreliable statistics, and an inability to reconcile national accounts to determine a realistic GDP figure. Burma's poor investment climate hampers the inflow of foreign investment; in recent years, foreign investors have shied away from nearly every sector except for natural gas, power generation, timber, and mining. The business climate is widely perceived as opaque, corrupt, and highly inefficient. Over 60% of the FY 2009-10 budget is allocated to state owned enterprises - most operating at a deficit. The most productive sectors will continue to be in extractive industries - especially oil and gas, mining, and timber - with the latter two causing significant environmental degradation. Other areas, such as manufacturing, tourism and services, struggle in the face of inadequate infrastructure, unpredictable trade policies, neglected health and education systems, and endemic corruption. A major banking crisis in 2003 caused 20 private banks to close; private banks still operate under tight restrictions, limiting the private sector's access to credit. The United States, the European Union, Canada, and Australia have imposed financial and economic sanctions on Burma, prohibiting most financial transactions with Burmese entities, imposing travel bans on Burmese officials and others connected to the ruling regime, and banning imports of certain Burmese products. These sanctions affected the country's fledgling garment industry, isolated the struggling banking sector, and raised the costs of doing business with Burmese companies, particularly firms tied to Burmese regime leaders. The global crisis of 2008-09 caused exports and domestic consumer demand to drop. Remittances from overseas Burmese workers - who had provided significant financial support for their families - slowed or dried up as jobs were lost and migrant workers returned home. 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 serious foreign investment, exports, and tourism.
$57.49 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
$56.47 billion (2008 est.)
$55.86 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
$27.55 billion (2009 est.)
1.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
1.1% (2008 est.)
3.4% (2007 est.)
$1,100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208
$1,100 (2008 est.)
$1,100 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
agriculture: 43.1%
industry: 19.8%
services: 37.1% (2009 est.)
30.85 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
agriculture: 70%
industry: 7%
services: 23% (2001 est.)
4.9% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
5% (2008 est.)
32.7% (2007 est.)
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)
14.5% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
revenues: $1.18 billion
expenditures: $2.432 billion (2009 est.)
6.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
26.8% (2008 est.)
12% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 27
12% (31 December 2007)
17% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 33
17% (31 December 2007)
$622.6 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 5
$598 billion (31 December 2007)
note: this number reflects the vastly overvalued official exchange rate of 5.38 kyat per dollar in 2007; at the unofficial black market rate of 1,305 kyat per dollar for 2007, the stock of kyats would equal only US$2.465 billion and Burma's velocity of money (the number of times money turns over in the course of a year) would be six, in line with the velocity of money for other countries in the region; in 2009, the unofficial black market rate averaged 1,090 kyat per dollar.
$289.3 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 15
$216.9 billion (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
$887.7 billion (31 December 2007)
rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products
agricultural processing; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; cement, construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer; oil and natural gas; garments, jade and gems
1.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
6.286 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
4.403 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113
0 kWh (2008 est.)
0 kWh (2008 est.)
18,880 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
42,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
2,200 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
18,250 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
50 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
12.4 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
3.85 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
8.55 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 22
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
283.2 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
$739 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
$1.26 billion (2008 est.)
$6.845 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
$6.644 billion (2008 est.)
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
natural gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice, clothing, jade and gems
Thailand 46.57%, India 12.99%, China 9.01%, Japan 5.65% (2009)
$3.974 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
$3.386 billion (2008 est.)
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
fabric, petroleum products, fertilizer, plastics, machinery, transport equipment; cement, construction materials, crude oil; food products, edible oil
China 33.1%, Thailand 26.28%, Singapore 15.18% (2009)
$3.561 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
$3.412 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$7.373 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
$7.946 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
kyats (MMK) per US dollar - 1,090 (2009), 1,205 (2008), 1,296 (2007), 1,280 (2006), 5.761 (2005)
note: unofficial exchange rates; datum shown for 2005 is the official exchange rate
Communications ::Burma
829,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 85
375,800 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 163
general assessment: meets minimum requirements for local and intercity service for business and government
domestic: system barely capable of providing basic service; mobile-cellular phone system is grossly underdeveloped with a subscribership base of less than 1 per 100 persons
international: country code - 95; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2, Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and ShinSat (2008)
government controls all domestic broadcast media; 3 state-controlled television stations with 1 of the stations controlled by the armed forces; a fourth TV channel, a pay-TV station, is a joint state-private venture; access to satellite TV is limited with residents required to register and pay a fee for all satellite television receivers; 2 state-controlled domestic radio stations; transmissions of several international broadcasters are available in Burma; the opposition-backed station Democratic Voice of Burma broadcasts into Burma via shortwave (2009)
172 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 197
108,900 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 150
Transportation ::Burma
76 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 72
total: 37
over 3,047 m: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2010)
total: 39
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 23 (2010)
6 (2010)
gas 2,228 km; oil 558 km (2009)
total: 3,955 km
country comparison to the world: 44
narrow gauge: 3,955 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)
total: 27,000 km
country comparison to the world: 101
paved: 3,200 km
unpaved: 23,800 km (2006)
12,800 km (2008)
country comparison to the world: 10
total: 24
country comparison to the world: 92
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 17, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 3, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 3 (Cyprus 1, Germany 1, Japan 1)
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2008)
Moulmein, Rangoon, Sittwe
Military ::Burma
Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw): Army (Tatmadaw Kyi), Navy (Tatmadaw Yay), Air Force (Tatmadaw Lay) (2010)
18 years of age for voluntary military service for both sexes; forced conscription of children, although officially prohibited, reportedly continues (2007)
males age 16-49: 14,558,921
females age 16-49: 14,539,703 (2010 est.)
males age 16-49: 10,281,131
females age 16-49: 10,988,695 (2010 est.)
male: 526,557
female: 510,538 (2010 est.)
2.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
Transnational Issues ::Burma
over half of Burma's population consists of diverse ethnic groups who have substantial numbers of kin in neighboring countries; Thailand must deal with Karen and other ethnic refugees, asylum seekers, and rebels, as well as illegal cross-border activities from Burma; Thailand is studying the feasibility of jointly constructing the Hatgyi Dam on the Salween River near the border with Burma; citing environmental, cultural, and social concerns, China is reconsidering construction of 13 dams on the Salween River but energy-starved Burma with backing from Thailand remains intent on building five hydro-electric dams downstream, despite identical regional and international protests; India seeks cooperation from Burma to keep Indian Nagaland separatists, such as the United Liberation Front of Assam, from hiding in remote Burmese Uplands; after 21 years, Bangladesh resumes talks with Burma on delimiting a maritime boundary in January 2008
IDPs: 503,000 (government offensives against ethnic insurgent groups near the eastern borders; most IDPs are ethnic Karen, Karenni, Shan, Tavoyan, and Mon) (2007)
current situation: Burma is a source country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; Burmese women and children are trafficked to East and Southeast Asia for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor; Burmese children are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Thailand as hawkers, beggars, and for work in shops, agriculture, fish processing, and small-scale industries; women are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Malaysia and China; some trafficking victims transit Burma from Bangladesh to Malaysia and from China to Thailand; trafficking within Burma is a significant phenomenon occurring primarily from villages to urban centers and economic hubs for labor in industrial zones, agricultural estates, and commercial sexual exploitation; military and civilian officials continue to use a significant amount of forced labor; ethnic insurgent groups also used compulsory labor of adults and unlawful recruitment of children; the military junta's gross economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and its policy of using forced labor are the top causal factors for Burma's significant trafficking problem
tier rating: Tier 3 - serious problems remain, most notably in the area of forced labor, and the Government of Burma is not making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; military and civilian officials remain directly involved in forced labor and the unlawful conscription of child soldiers, with reported cases of child soldiers increasing annually; in some areas, particularly the international trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation, the Government of Burma is making significant efforts; available data indicated an increase in law enforcement efforts in 2008 and a considerable increase in budget allocation for anti-trafficking activities (2009)
remains world's second largest producer of illicit opium with an estimated production in 2008 of 340 metric tons, an increase of 26%, and poppy cultivation in 2008 totaled 22,500 hectares, a 4% increase from 2007; production in the United Wa State Army's areas of greatest control remains low; Shan state is the source of 94% of Burma's poppy cultivation; lack of government will to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort; major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption (2008)