Burma is a country in Southeast Asia. It has an extensive coastline with the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal and shares borders with countries like People’s Republic of China, Laos, India, Bangladesh and Thailand. This country enjoys tropical climate throughout the year. The capital of Burma is Naypyidaw and the official language spoken is Burmese. The name Burma is derived from the Burmese word “Bamar” which is a colloquial term for Myanmar. Interestingly many western countries choose to refer to this country as Burma while the ASEAN countries, India, Japan, Russia, Germany and China refer to this country as Myanmar. What is also to be noted is that some governments still recognize only Rangoon as the capital of Burma.
The earliest inhabitants who migrated from the Irrawaddy valley to Southern Burma are believed to be the Mon group of people who formed their own kingdom. The Pyu group followed later and the areas of these two kingdoms formed an important trade route between India and China. The decline of the Pyu kingdom saw the rise of the Nanzhao kingdom and later the Bagan(Pagan) kingdom by the Burmans. The Burmans adopted Buddhism and created the Burmese script with inspiration from the Mons. They also built magnificient temples and pagodas throughout Burma which can be seen even today. The Mongols and the Tai-shan group of people also followed suit and invaded these kingdoms to rule. However after the Bagan rule, there was not much of a prosperous situation in Burma. Constant war and fighting broke the Bagan empire into fragments. In 1824, when Burma attempted to invade India, the British conquered them and included Burma into the British India region. This status was held until 1937 after which Burma became an independent British colony. Many Burmese fought for the British Burma army however a majority of them also fought for the Japanese army. During World War II Japan had almost conquered Burma and driven away British forces but Burma was once again taken into possession by the British in the year 1945. In the year 1948, Burma became an independent republic and began to be known as the Union of Burma. The world famous Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was also a Union of Burma’s representative to the UN. Today Burma is ruled by a military junta and is facing worldwide resent following many human rights violations and bad living conditions. By protesting against this, many Burmese social activists including Suu Kyi herself have been put to house arrest for many years now.
Burma is blessed with ample natural resources and all this should have added to its glory. However the poor economic policies and bad governance by the military junta, most of the Burmese live in poverty and are still in a growing economy. The most popular industries in Burma are oil and natural gas extraction, mining industry and timber industry. Apart from this, manufacturing, tourism and services industry too has many Burmese working for. Apart from this many staple crops like rice, millet, sorghum and corn are cultivated here and Burma is also the highest supplier of narcotics. Due to many financial and trade restrictions on Burma by U.S. and many other countries, the export scenario in Burma is completely in shambles and this has shaken the economy severely. Unless the government of Burma cooperates and designs friendly economic policies and plans to revamp the country’s fallen image, foreign investments are difficult to obtain. These investments as we all know are the basis for any country’s growth and overall rank.
The Burmese language is derived from South Indian scripts. The architecture here reflects the Buddhist effect and also the British colonial era. While many Buddhist temples can be seen till date, one can see a distinct Burmese style of construction in them. The trademark of Burma is their style of house construction which is made purely out of Bamboo. Since a majority of Burmese still live in rural areas, these type of houses are common except in urban areas where normal cement houses are built. The staple food in Burma is rice. The Burmese are a very calm and patient set of people and their etiquette deems it improper to lose temper or shout in public. These are the principles of the Theravada form of Buddhism that Burmese follow. The new year in Burma is celebrated around April and is known as Thingyan, the festival of water. Similarly another festival Kason is celebrated in May to honor Buddha. The fine arts here include literature, the famous Parabaik painting which is painting on paper made from bamboo pulp dating back to the 18th century. Also famous are art works like lacquerware, sculpting and weaving. Music, dance and drama are often combined together to perform and are known as Pwe or “show” and conducted only on special occasions or religious gatherings.
Kyat is the local currency in Burma .
Burma is connected with an extensive roadways, waterways, railways network. It has 2 international airports namely the Mandalay International Airport and the Yangon International Airport which is in Rangoon. There are many other domestic and military airports in the region too.
The flag of Burma consists of a red background with a blue square at the top left corner. Inside the blue square are 14 number of five-pointed stars surrounding a cog-wheel and a paddy ear. The blue color represents peace while red represents courage and the fight for freedom. White represents purity.The 14 stars represent the 14 states that form the Union of Myanmar.