Burma or ‘Myanmar’ has a hugely interesting amount of historical artefacts, political and otherwise. The country has a mixture of ethnic cultures as well as a distinctive religious influence characterised by the impressive thousand year old pagodas that cover Myanmar. Most importantly it is a haven for natural beauty. After years of Burma being off limits for tourists, its untouched state, combined with years of Burmese culture and religion has entailed a striking and breathtaking landscape that is truly unique.
Burma is the largest country in South-East Asia’s mainland; it lies between latitudes 9° and 29°N, and longitudes 92° and 102°E. The country borders the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The area of Burma is 678,500 square kilometres making it approximately the size of Texas, in addition Burma also boasts an uninterrupted coastline of 1,930 kilometres, which makes up for one-third of Myanmar’s total perimeter. Myanar’s terrain in central areas is predominantly lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands: Mountain ranges such as the Bago Yoma, and the Shan Plateau exist within Myanmar, both of which run north-to-south from the Himalayas.
Politics and Economy
Burma has been off the travel agenda for the last 2 decades, with most travellers observing pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s calls for a tourism boycott. But following her release from house arrest last November, Ms. Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), announced that the full boycott should be lifted.
Less than 750,000 tourists visit the country each year and much of the country is unseen by tourists as in the past, the military have had tight control over interactions between Burmese people and tourists, notably so in border regions.
The country has a high level of corruption in government, with the results of the 2010 election being illegitimate as many foreign observers questioned its fairness; however in March 2011 a new president, Thein Sein was inaugurated. The Burmese Armed Forces play a large role in elections and political issues. Interestingly, In Myanmar, the locals are not to discuss politics with foreigners, under penalty of imprisonment.
In Myanmar there are approximately 100 spoken languages. Burmese is spoken by 65% of the population. Today, Burmese is the primary language of instruction, and then, in teaching English is the secondary taught language.
Myanmar has no official state religion, and is therefore a multi religious country. However, the country’s government expresses preference towards Buddhism, which is practiced by 90% of the population, followed by Christianity at 4%.
A large percentage of Myanmar’s industry is from precious stones, for examples 90% of the world’s rubies come for Myanmar. 60% of Myanmar’s cultivated land is dedicated to the production of rice, other Agricultural processing includes production of; knit and woven apparel, wood and wood products. Copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer and cement are amongst other goods the country produces.