Various ethnic Burman and ethnic minority city-states or kingdoms occupied the present borders through the 19th century, and several minority ethnic groups continue to maintain independent armies and control territory within the country today, in opposition to the central government. Over a period of 62 years (1824-1886), Britain conquered Burma and incorporated all the groups within the country into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; in 1948, following major battles on its territory during World War II, Burma attained independence from the British Commonwealth. 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 response to widespread civil unrest, NE WIN resigned in 1988, but within months the military crushed student-led protests and took power. Since independence, successive Burmese governments have fought on-and-off conflicts with armed ethnic groups seeking autonomy in the country’s mountainous border regions. Multiparty legislative elections in 1990 resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory. Instead of handing over power, the junta placed NLD leader (and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient) AUNG SAN SUU KYI under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, 2000 to 2002, and from May 2003 to November 2010. In late September 2007, the ruling junta brutally suppressed protests over increased fuel prices led by prodemocracy activists and Buddhist monks, killing an unknown number of people and arresting thousands for participating in the demonstrations - popularly referred to as the Saffron Revolution. In early May 2008, Cyclone Nargis struck Burma, which left over 138,000 dead and tens of thousands injured and homeless. Despite this tragedy, the junta proceeded with its May constitutional referendum, the first vote in Burma since 1990. The 2008 constitution reserves 25% of its seats to the military. Legislative elections held in November 2010, which the NLD boycotted and many in the international community considered flawed, saw the successor ruling junta's mass organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Party garner over 75% of the contested seats. The national legislature convened in January 2011 and selected former Prime Minister THEIN SEIN as president. Although the vast majority of national-level appointees named by THEIN SEIN were former or current military officers, the government initiated a series of political and economic reforms leading to a substantial opening of the long-isolated country. These reforms included releasing hundreds of political prisoners, signing a nationwide cease-fire with several of the country's ethnic armed groups, pursuing legal reform, and gradually reducing restrictions on freedom of the press, association, and civil society. At least due in part to these reforms, AUNG SAN SUU KYI was elected to the national legislature in April 2012 and became chair of the Committee for Rule of Law and Tranquility. Burma served as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2014. In a flawed but largely credible national legislative election in November 2015 featuring more than 90 political parties, the NLD again won a landslide victory. Using its overwhelming majority in both houses of parliament, the NLD elected HTIN KYAW, AUNG SAN SUU KYI’s confidant and long-time NLD supporter, as president. The new legislature created the position of State Counsellor, according AUNG SAN SUU KYI a formal role in the government and making her the de facto head of state. Burma's first credibly elected civilian government after more than five decades of military dictatorship was sworn into office on 30 March 2016. In March 2018, upon HTIN KYAW’s resignation, parliament selected WIN MYINT, another long-time ally of AUNG SAN SUU KYI’s, as president. Attacks in October 2016 and August 2017 on security forces in northern Rakhine State by members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya militant group, resulted in military crackdowns on the Rohingya population that reportedly caused thousands of deaths and human rights abuses. Following the August 2017 violence, over 740,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh as refugees. In November 2017, the US Department of State determined that the August 2017 violence constituted ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas. The UN has called for Burma to allow access to a Fact Finding Mission to investigate reports of human rights violations and abuses and to work with Bangladesh to facilitate repatriation of Rohingya refugees, and in September 2018 the International Criminal Court (ICC) determined it had jurisdiction to investigate reported human rights abuses against Rohingyas. Burma has rejected charges of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and has chosen not to work with the UN Fact Finding Mission or the ICC. In March 2018, President HTIN KYAW announced his voluntary retirement; NLD parliamentarian WIN MYINT was named by the parliament as his successor. In February 2019, the NLD announced it would establish a parliamentary committee to examine options for constitutional reform ahead of national the elections planned for 2020.



22.0° N, 98. 0° E
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand


676,578 sq km
653,508 sq km
23,070 sq km

land boundaries

6,522 km


1,930 km


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


702 m
lowest point
Andaman Sea/Bay of Bengal
0 m
highest point
Gamlang Razi
5,870 m

natural resources

  • petroleum
  • timber
  • tin
  • antimony
  • zinc
  • copper
  • tungsten
  • lead
  • coal
  • marble
  • limestone
  • precious stones
  • natural gas
  • hydropower
  • arable land

land use

arable land
16.5 %
permanent crops
2.2 %
permanent pasture
0.5 %
48.2 %
32.6 %

population distribution

population concentrated along coastal areas and in general proximity to the shores of the Irrawaddy River; the extreme north is relatively underpopulated



  • 56,590,071
  • 25
    global rank


  • Burmese (singular and plural)
  • Burmese

ethnic groups

68 %
9 %
7 %
4 %
3 %
2 %
2 %
5 %


  • Burmese


87.9 %
6.2 %
4.3 %
0.8 %
0.5 %
0.2 %
0.1 %

birth rate

  • 17
    per 1,000 population
  • 99
    global rank

death rate

  • 7.2
    per 1,000 population
  • 118
    global rank

urban population

31.1 %

major urban areas

  • Rangoon
    pop. 5,332,000
  • Mandalay
    pop. 1,438,000

life expectancy

  • 69.3
    total population
  • 169
    global rank

adult obesity rate

  • 5.8%
    percent of adults
  • 172
    global rank


country name


  • Union of Burma
    long form
  • Burma
    short form


  • Pyidaungzu Thammada Myanma Naingngandaw (translated as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar)
    long form
  • Myanma Naingngandaw
    short form

government type

parliamentary republic


Rangoon (Yangon); note - Nay Pyi Taw is the administrative capital
16.48 N, 96.9 E


national holidays

  • Independence Day
    4 January
  • Union Day
    12 February

legal system

mixed legal system of English common law (as introduced in codifications designed for colonial India) and customary law

age of suffrage


flag description

design consists of three equal horizontal stripes of yellow (top), green, and red; centered on the green band is a large white five-pointed star that partially overlaps onto the adjacent colored stripes; the design revives the triband colors used by Burma from 1943-45, during the Japanese occupation

national colors

  • yellow
  • green
  • red
  • white

national anthem

"Kaba Ma Kyei" (Till the End of the World, Myanmar)



Since Burma began the transition to a civilian-led government in 2011, the country initiated economic reforms aimed at attracting foreign investment and reintegrating into the global economy. Burma established a managed float of the Burmese kyat in 2012, granted the Central Bank operational independence in July 2013, enacted a new anti-corruption law in September 2013, and granted licenses to 13 foreign banks in 2014-16. State Counsellor AUNG SAN SUU KYI and the ruling National League for Democracy, who took power in March 2016, have sought to improve Burma’s investment climate following the US sanctions lift in October 2016 and reinstatement of Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits in November 2016. In October 2016, Burma passed a foreign investment law that consolidates investment regulations and eases rules on foreign ownership of businesses. Burma’s economic growth rate recovered from a low growth under 6% in 2011 but has been volatile between 6% and 8% between 2014 and 2018. Burma’s abundant natural resources and young labor force have the potential to attract foreign investment in the energy, garment, information technology, and food and beverage sectors. The government is focusing on accelerating agricultural productivity and land reforms, modernizing and opening the financial sector, and developing transportation and electricity infrastructure. The government has also taken steps to improve transparency in the mining and oil sectors through publication of reports under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2016 and 2018. Despite these improvements, living standards have not improved for the majority of the people residing in rural areas. Burma remains one of the poorest countries in Asia – approximately 26% of the country’s 51 million people live in poverty. The isolationist policies and economic mismanagement of previous governments have left Burma with poor infrastructure, endemic corruption, underdeveloped human resources, and inadequate access to capital, which will require a major commitment to reverse. The Burmese Government has been slow to address impediments to economic development such as unclear land rights, a restrictive trade licensing system, an opaque revenue collection system, and an antiquated banking system.


329,800,000,000 USD

agriculture products

  • rice
  • pulses
  • beans
  • sesame
  • groundnuts
  • sugarcane
  • fish
  • fish products
  • hardwood

poverty level



  • 9,108,000,000
    revenue (USD)
  • 11,230,000,000
    expenditures (USD)



    fixed lines

  • 520,863
    total subscriptions
  • 94
    global rank

    mobile cellular

  • 61,143,964
    total subscriptions
  • 26
    global rank

broadcast media

government controls all domestic broadcast media; 2 state-controlled TV stations with 1 of the stations controlled by the armed forces; 2 pay-TV stations are joint state-private ventures; access to satellite TV is limited; 1 state-controlled domestic radio station and 9 FM stations that are joint state-private ventures; transmissions of several international broadcasters are available in parts of Burma; the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA), BBC Burmese service, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), and Radio Australia use shortwave to broadcast in Burma; VOA, RFA, and DVB produce daily TV news programs that are transmitted by satellite to audiences in Burma; in March 2017, the government granted licenses to 5 private broadcasters, allowing them digital free-to-air TV channels to be operated in partnership with government-owned Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) and will rely upon MRTV’s transmission infrastructure (2019)


country code


  • 17,064,985
  • 30.68
    % of population
  • 39
    global rank


electricity access



air transport

    national system

  • 11
    registered air carriers
  • 2,029,139
    annual passenger traffic


  • 64
  • 36


5,031 km
total length


157,000 km
total length


12,800 km
total length



expenditures here

service age