Mount Popa, an extinct volcano, is located southeast of Bagan. It has become the site of religious and mystical interests, notably "nats" or the spirits of ancient ancestors. A monastery sits atop the volcano and houses several monkeys.
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Introduction

Background

Burma, colonized by Britain in the 19th century and granted independence post-World War II, contains ethnic Burman and scores of other ethnic and religious minority groups that have all resisted external efforts to consolidate control of the country throughout its history, extending to the several minority groups today that possess independent fighting forces and control pockets of territory. Burman and armed ethnic minorities fought off-and-on until military Gen. NE WIN seized power in 1962. He ruled Burma until 1988 when a military junta took control. In 1990, the junta permitted an election but then rejected the results when the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and its leader AUNG SAN SUU KYI (ASSK) won in a landslide. The junta placed ASSK under house arrest for much of the next 20 years, until November 2010. In 2007, rising fuel prices in Burma led pro-democracy activists and Buddhist monks to launch a "Saffron Revolution" consisting of large protests against the ruling junta, which violently suppressed the movement by killing an unknown number of participants and arresting thousands. The regime prevented new elections until it had drafted a constitution designed to preserve its control; it passed the new constitution in its 2008 referendum, days after Cyclone Nargis killed at least 138,000. The junta conducted an election in 2010, but the NLD boycotted the vote, and the military’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) easily won; international observers denounced the election as flawed.

With former or current military officers installed in its most senior positions, Burma began a halting process of political and economic reforms. Officials freed prisoners, brokered ceasefires with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), amended courts, expanded civil liberties, brought ASSK into government in 2012, and permitted the NLD in 2015 to take power after a sweeping electoral win.  However, Burma’s first credibly elected civilian government, with ASSK as the de facto head of state, faced strong headwinds after five decades of military dictatorship. The NLD government drew international criticism for blocking investigations of Burma’s military for operations, which the U.S. Department of State determined constituted genocide, on its Rohingya population that killed thousands and forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. The military did not support an NLD pledge in 2019 to examine reforming the military’s 2008 constitution. When the 2020 elections resulted in further NLD gains, the military denounced them as fraudulent. This challenge led Commander-in-Chief Sr. General MIN AUNG HLAING (MAH) to launch a coup in February 2021 that has left Burma reeling with the return to authoritarian rule, the detention of ASSK and thousands of pro-democracy actors, and renewed brutal repression against protestors, widespread violence, and economic decline.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand

Geographic coordinates

22 00 N, 98 00 E

Map references

Southeast Asia

Area

total: 676,578 sq km

land: 653,508 sq km

water: 23,070 sq km

country comparison to the world: 42

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Texas

<p>slightly smaller than Texas</p>

Land boundaries

total: 6,522 km

border countries (5): Bangladesh 271 km; China 2,129 km; India 1,468 km; Laos 238 km; Thailand 2,416 km

Coastline

1,930 km

Maritime claims

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

Climate

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)

Terrain

central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands

Elevation

highest point: Gamlang Razi 5,870 m

lowest point: Andaman Sea/Bay of Bengal 0 m

mean elevation: 702 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 19.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 16.5% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 48.2% (2018 est.)

other: 32.6% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

22,950 sq km (2012)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Mekong (shared with China [s], Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam [m]) - 4,350 km; Salween river mouth (shared with China [s] and Thailand) - 3,060 km; Irrawaddy river mouth (shared with China [s]) - 2,809 km; Chindwin - 1,158 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: Brahmaputra (651,335 sq km), Ganges (1,016,124 sq km), Irrawaddy (413,710 sq km), Salween (271,914 sq km)
Pacific Ocean drainage: Mekong (805,604 sq km)

Population distribution

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

Natural hazards

destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts

Geography - note

strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes; the north-south flowing Irrawaddy River is the country's largest and most important commercial waterway

Map description

Burma map showing major cities as well as parts of surrounding countries and the Andaman Sea.

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Burmese (singular and plural)

adjective: Burmese

Ethnic groups

Burman (Bamar) 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%

note: government recognizes 135 indigenous ethnic groups

Languages

Burmese (official)

major-language sample(s):
ကမ္ဘာ့အချက်အလက်စာအုပ်- အခြေခံအချက်အလက်တွေအတွက် မရှိမဖြစ်တဲ့ အရင်းအမြစ် (Burmese)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

note: minority ethnic groups use their own languages

Religions

Buddhist 87.9%, Christian 6.2%, Muslim 4.3%, Animist 0.8%, Hindu 0.5%, other 0.2%, none 0.1% (2014 est.)

note: religion estimate is based on the 2014 national census, including an estimate for the non-enumerated population of Rakhine State, which is assumed to mainly affiliate with the Islamic faith; as of December 2019, Muslims probably make up less than 3% of Burma's total population due to the large outmigration of the Rohingya population since 2017

Demographic profile

Burma’s 2014 national census – the first in more than 30 years – revealed that the country’s total population is approximately 51.5 million, significantly lower than the Burmese Government’s prior estimate of 61 million.  The Burmese Government assumed that the 2% population growth rate between 1973 and 1983 remained constant and that emigration was zero, ignoring later sample surveys showing declining fertility rates and substantial labor migration abroad in recent decades.  These factors reduced the estimated average annual growth rate between 2003 and 2014 to about .9%.  Among Southeast Asian countries, Burma’s life expectancy is among the lowest and its infant and maternal mortality rates are among the highest.  The large difference in life expectancy between women and men has resulted in older age cohorts consisting of far more women than men.

Burma’s demographic transition began in the 1950s, when mortality rates began to drop.  Fertility did not start to decrease until the 1960s, sustaining high population growth until the decline accelerated in the 1980s.  The birth rate has held fairly steady from 2000 until today.  Since the 1970s, the total fertility rate (TFR) has fallen more than 60%, from almost 6 children per woman to 2.2 in 2016.  The reduced TFR is largely a result of women marrying later and more women never marrying, both being associated with greater educational attainment and labor force participation among women.  TFR, however, varies regionally, between urban and rural areas, by educational attainment, and among ethnic groups, with fertility lowest in urban areas (where it is below replacement level).

The shift in Burma’s age structure has been slow (45% of the population is still under 25 years of age) and uneven among its socioeconomic groups.  Any economic boost from the growth of the working-age population is likely to take longer to develop, to have a smaller impact, and to be distributed unequally.  Rural poverty and unemployment continue to drive high levels of internal and international migration.  The majority of labor migration is internal, mainly from rural to urban areas.  The new government’s growing regional integration, reforms, and improved diplomatic relations are increasing the pace of international migration and destination choices.  As many as 4-5 million Burmese, mostly from rural areas and several ethnic groups, have taken up unskilled jobs abroad in agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and domestic service.  Thailand is the most common destination, hosting about 70% of Burma’s international migrants, followed by Malaysia, China, and Singapore. 

Burma is a patchwork of more than 130 religious and ethnic groups, distinguishing it as one of the most diverse countries in the region.  Ethnic minorities face substantial discrimination, and the Rohingya, the largest Muslim group, are arguably the most persecuted population in the country.  The Burmese Government and the Buddhist majority see the Rohingya as a threat to identity, competitors for jobs and resources, terrorists, and some still resent them for their alliance with Burma’s British colonizers during its 19th century.  Since at least the 1960s, they have been subjected to systematic human rights abuses, violence, marginalization, and disenfranchisement, which authorities continue to deny.  Despite living in Burma for centuries, many Burmese see the Rohingya as illegal Bengali immigrants and refer to them Bengalis.  As a result, the Rohingya have been classified as foreign residents and stripped of their citizenship, rendering them one of the largest stateless populations in the world.  

Hundreds of thousands of Burmese from various ethnic groups have been internally displaced (an estimated 644,000 as of year-end 2016) or have fled to neighboring countries over the decades because of persecution, armed conflict, rural development projects, drought, and natural disasters.  Bangladesh has absorbed the most refugees from Burma, with an estimated 33,000 officially recognized and 200,000 to 500,000 unrecognized Rohingya refugees, as of 2016.  An escalation in violation has caused a surge in the inflow of Rohingya refugees since late August 2017, raising the number to an estimated 870,000.  As of June 2017, another approximately 132,500 refugees, largely Rohingya and Chin, were living in Malaysia, and more than 100,000, mostly Karen, were housed in camps along the Burma-Thailand border. 

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.97% (male 7,524,869/female 7,173,333)

15-24 years: 17% (male 4,852,122/female 4,769,412)

25-54 years: 42.76% (male 11,861,971/female 12,337,482)

55-64 years: 8.22% (male 2,179,616/female 2,472,681)

65 years and over: 6.04% (2020 est.) (male 1,489,807/female 1,928,778)

This is the population pyramid for Burma. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 46.5

youth dependency ratio: 37.3

elderly dependency ratio: 9.1

potential support ratio: 10.9 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 29.2 years

male: 28.3 years

female: 30 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 133

Birth rate

16.34 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 99

Death rate

7.13 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 115

Net migration rate

-1.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 156

Population distribution

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

Urbanization

urban population: 31.8% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 1.85% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

5.514 million RANGOON (Yangon) (capital), 1.501 million Mandalay (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

24.7 years (2015/16 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

250 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 42

Infant mortality rate

total: 32.94 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 36.18 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 29.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 69.92 years

male: 68.27 years

female: 71.67 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 95.4% of population

rural: 80.7% of population

total: 85.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 4.6% of population

rural: 19.3% of population

total: 14.7% of population (2020 est.)

Physicians density

0.68 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

1 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 93.9% of population

rural: 81.3% of population

total: 85.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 6.1% of population

rural: 18.7% of population

total: 14.8% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 1.9% (2016)

women married by age 18: 16% (2016)

men married by age 18: 5% (2016 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 89.1%

male: 92.4%

female: 86.3% (2019)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 10 years

female: 11 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 1.5%

male: 1.4%

female: 1.6% (2019 est.)

Environment

Environment - current issues

deforestation; industrial pollution of air, soil, and water; inadequate sanitation and water treatment contribute to disease; rapid depletion of the country's natural resources

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 34.69 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 25.28 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 42.2 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

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)

Land use

agricultural land: 19.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 16.5% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 48.2% (2018 est.)

other: 32.6% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 31.8% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 1.85% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.01% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 47

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to conflict, political instability, and economic constraints - the political crisis, following the military takeover on 1 February 2021, resulted in increased tensions and unrest throughout the country; the current uncertain political situation may further compromise the fragile situation of vulnerable households and the Rohingya IDPs residing in the country; persisting conflicts in Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Kayin, and Shan states have triggered large-scale population displacements particularly since 2017; income losses and a decline in remittances, due to the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic, have affected the food security situation of vulnerable households (2021)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 4,677,307 tons (2000 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Mekong (shared with China [s], Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam [m]) - 4,350 km; Salween river mouth (shared with China [s] and Thailand) - 3,060 km; Irrawaddy river mouth (shared with China [s]) - 2,809 km; Chindwin - 1,158 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: Brahmaputra (651,335 sq km), Ganges (1,016,124 sq km), Irrawaddy (413,710 sq km), Salween (271,914 sq km)
Pacific Ocean drainage: Mekong (805,604 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 3.323 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 498.4 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 29.57 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

1,167,800,000,000 cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Union of Burma

conventional short form: Burma

local long form: Pyidaungzu Thammada Myanma Naingngandaw (translated as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar)

local short form: Myanma Naingngandaw

former: Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma, Union of Myanmar

etymology: both "Burma" and "Myanmar" derive from the name of the majority Burman (Bamar) ethnic group

note: since 1989 the military authorities in Burma and the deposed parliamentary government have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; the US Government has not officially adopted the name

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Nay Pyi Taw (note - Yangon, aka Rangoon, is the former capital)

geographic coordinates: 19 74 N, 96 12 E

time difference: UTC+6.5 (11.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: Nay Pyi Taw translates as: "Great City of the Sun" or "Abode of Kings"

Administrative divisions

7 regions (taing-myar, singular - taing), 7 states (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne), 1 union territory

regions: Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy), Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Yangon (Rangoon)

states: Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Mon, Rakhine, Shan

union territory: Nay Pyi Taw

Independence

4 January 1948 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 4 January (1948); Union Day, 12 February (1947)

Constitution

history: previous 1947, 1974 (suspended until 2008); latest drafted 9 April 2008, approved by referendum 29 May 2008

amendments: proposals require at least 20% approval by the Assembly of the Union membership; passage of amendments to sections of the constitution on basic principles, government structure, branches of government, state emergencies, and amendment procedures requires 75% approval by the Assembly and approval in a referendum by absolute majority of registered voters; passage of amendments to other sections requires only 75% Assembly approval; military granted 25% of parliamentary seats by default; amended 2015

Legal system

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

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: both parents must be citizens of Burma

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: none

note: an applicant for naturalization must be the child or spouse of a citizen

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Prime Minister, State Administration Council (SAC) Chair, Sr. Gen. MIN AUNG HLAING (since 1 August 2021); note - MIN AUNG HLAING self-appointed himself to the role of prime minister of a “caretaker” provisional government that subsumed the SAC on 1 August 2021; the SAC, chaired by MIN AUNG HLAING, served as the executive governing body since 2 February 2021, following the 1 February 2021 military takeover of the government and the declaration of a state of emergency and still exists under the provisional government according to state media

head of government: Prime Minister, State Administration Council (SAC) Chair, Sr. Gen. MIN AUNG HLAING (since 1 August 2021); note - MIN AUNG HLAING self-appointed himself to the role of prime minister of a “caretaker” provisional government that subsumed the SAC on 1 August 2021; the SAC, chaired by MIN AUNG HLAING, served as the executive governing body since 2 February 2021, following the 1 February 2021 military takeover of the government and the declaration of a state of emergency and still exists under the provisional government according to state media

cabinet: Cabinet appointments shared by the president and the commander-in-chief; note - after 1 February, the military junta replaced the cabinet

elections/appointments: prior to the military takeover, president was indirectly elected by simple majority vote by the full Assembly of the Union from among 3 vice-presidential candidates nominated by the Presidential Electoral College (consists of members of the lower and upper houses and military members); the other 2 candidates become vice-presidents (president elected for a 5-year term); election last held on 28 March 2018; the military junta pledged to hold new elections in 2023

election results: WIN MYINT elected president; Assembly of the Union vote - WIN MYINT (NLD) 403, MYINT SWE (USDP) 211, HENRY VAN THIO (NLD) 18, 4 votes canceled (636 votes cast); note - WIN MYINT and other key leaders of the ruling NLD party were placed under arrest following the military takeover on 1 February 2021

state counsellor: State Counselor AUNG SAN SUU KYI (since 6 April 2016); note - under arrest since 1 February 2021; formerly served as minister of foreign affairs and minister for the office of the president

note: a parliamentary bill creating the position of "state counsellor" was signed into law by former President HTIN KYAW on 6 April 2016; a state counsellor serves the equivalent term of the president and is similar to a prime minister in that the holder acts as a link between the parliament and the executive branch

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Assembly of the Union or Pyidaungsu consists of:
House of Nationalities or Amyotha Hluttaw, (224 seats; 168 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote with a second round if needed and 56 appointed by the military; members serve 5-year terms)
House of Representatives or Pyithu Hluttaw, (440 seats, currently 433; 330 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 110 appointed by the military; members serve 5-year terms); note - on 1 February 2021, the military dissolved the Assembly of the Union; the State Administration Council (SAC) governs in place of the Assembly of the Union

elections: House of Nationalities - last held on 8 November 2020 (next to be held in 2025)
House of Representatives - last held on 8 November 2020 (next to be held in 2025); note - the military junta overturned the results of the 8 November legislative elections

election results: House of Nationalities - percent of vote by party - NLD 61.6%, USDP 3.1%, ANP 1.8%, MUP 1.3%, KSDP 1.3%, other 5.9%, military appointees 25%; seats by party - NLD 138, USDP 7, ANP 4, MUP 3, KSPD 3, SNLD 2, TNP 2, other 2, canceled due to insurgency 7, military appointees 56

House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NLD 58.6%, USDP 5.9%, SNLD 3.0%, other 7.5%, military 25%; seats by party - NLD 258, USDP 26, SNLD 13, ANP 4, PNO 3, TNP 3, MUP 2, KSPD 2, other 4, canceled due to insurgency 15, military appointees 110

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court of the Union (consists of the chief justice and 7-11 judges)

judge selection and term of office: chief justice and judges nominated by the president, with approval of the Lower House, and appointed by the president; judges normally serve until mandatory retirement at age 70

subordinate courts: High Courts of the Region; High Courts of the State; Court of the Self-Administered Division; Court of the Self-Administered Zone; district and township courts; special courts (for juvenile, municipal, and traffic offenses); courts martial

Political parties and leaders

Arakan National Party or ANP [THAR TUN HLA]
Democratic Party or DP [U THU WAI]
Kayah State Democratic Party or KySDP
Kayin People's Party or KPP [TUN AUNG MYINT]
Kokang Democracy and Unity Party or KDUP [LUO XINGGUANG]
La Hu National Development Party or LHNDP [KYA HAR SHAL]
Lisu National Development Party or LNDP [U ARKI DAW]
Mon Unity Party (formed in 2019 from the All Mon Region Democracy Party and Mon National Party)
National Democratic Force or NDF [KHIN MAUNG SWE]
National League for Democracy or NLD [AUNG SAN SUU KYI]
National Unity Party or NUP [U HAN SHWE]
Pa-O National Organization or PNO [AUNG KHAM HTI]
People's Party [KO KO GYI]
Shan Nationalities Democratic Party or SNDP [SAI AI PAO]
Shan Nationalities League for Democracy or SNLD [KHUN HTUN OO]
Ta'ang National Party or TNP [AIK MONE]
Tai-Leng Nationalities Development Party or TNDP [ U SAI HTAY AUNG]
Union Solidarity and Development Party or USDP [THAN HTAY]
Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State or UDPKS [U KHAT HTEIN NAN]
Wa Democratic Party or WDP [KHUN HTUN LU]
Wa National Unity Party or WNUP [NYI PALOTE]
Zomi Congress for Democracy or ZCD [PU CIN SIAN THANG]
numerous smaller parties

International organization participation

ADB, ARF, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, CP, EAS, EITI (candidate country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), NAM, OPCW (signatory), SAARC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); HTWE Hteik Tin Lwin (Charge d'Affaires)

chancery: 2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 332-3344; [1] (202) 332-4250

FAX: [1] (202) 332-4351

email address and website:
pyi.thayar@verizon.net; washington-embassy@mofa.gov.mm

http://www.mewashingtondc.com/wordpress/

consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas J. VAJDA (since 19 January 2021)

embassy: 110 University Avenue, Kamayut Township, Rangoon

mailing address: 4250 Rangoon Place, Washington DC  20521-4250

telephone: [95] (1) 753-6509

FAX: [95] (1) 751-1069

email address and website:
ACSRangoon@state.gov

https://mm.usembassy.gov/

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 symbol(s)

chinthe (mythical lion); national colors: yellow, green, red, white

National anthem

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

lyrics/music: SAYA TIN

note: adopted 1948; Burma is among a handful of non-European nations that have anthems rooted in indigenous traditions; the beginning portion of the anthem is a traditional Burmese anthem before transitioning into a Western-style orchestrated work

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 2 (both cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Pyu Ancient Cities, Bagan

Economy

Economic overview

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.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$247.24 billion (2020 est.)

$274.69 billion (2019 est.)

$270.11 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 61

Real GDP growth rate

6.8% (2017 est.)

5.9% (2016 est.)

7% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 20

Real GDP per capita

$4,500 (2020 est.)

$5,100 (2019 est.)

$5,000 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 178

GDP (official exchange rate)

$76.606 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

8.8% (2019 est.)

6.8% (2018 est.)

4.6% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 203

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 24.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 35.6% (2017 est.)

services: 40.3% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 59.2% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 13.8% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 33.5% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.5% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 21.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -28.6% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, sugar cane, beans, vegetables, milk, maize, poultry, groundnuts, fruit, plantains

Industries

agricultural processing; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; cement, construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer; oil and natural gas; garments; jade and gems

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 70%

industry: 7%

services: 23% (2001 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 1.5%

male: 1.4%

female: 1.6% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 181

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.8%

highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)

Budget

revenues: 9.108 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 11.23 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

33.6% of GDP (2017 est.)

35.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 156

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

$240 million (2019 est.)

-$2.398 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 56

Exports

$17.52 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$15.73 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

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

country comparison to the world: 88

Exports - partners

China 24%, Thailand 24%, Japan 7%, Germany 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

natural gas, clothing products, rice, copper, dried legumes (2019)

Imports

$17.36 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$18.66 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

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

country comparison to the world: 93

Imports - partners

China 43%, Thailand 15%, Singapore 12%, Indonesia 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment, fabrics, motorcycles, packaged medicines (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$4.924 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$4.63 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 95

Debt - external

$6.594 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$8.2 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 126

Exchange rates

kyats (MMK) per US dollar -

1,361.9 (2017 est.)

1,234.87 (2016 est.)

1,234.87 (2015 est.)

1,162.62 (2014 est.)

984.35 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 51% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 76% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 39% (2019)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 520,863 (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2018 est.) less than 1

country comparison to the world: 92

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 61,143,964 (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 89.82 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 25

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Burma, one of the least developed telecom markets in Asia, saw growth in mobile and broadband services through foreign competition and roll out of 4G and 5G networks; infrastructure development challenged by flooding, unreliable electricity, inefficient bureaucracy, and corruption; digital divide affects rural areas; fixed broadband remains low due to number of fixed-lines and near saturation of the mobile platform; healthy m-banking platform; tests for NB-IoT; benefit from launch of regional satellite; government utilizes intermittent censorship and shut-down of Internet in political crisis; top importer of broadcasting equipment from China (2021) (2020)

domestic: fixed-line is just under 1 per 100, while mobile-cellular is roughly 90 per 100 (2019)

international: country code - 95; landing points for the SeaMeWe-3, SeaMeWe-5, AAE-1 and Singapore-Myanmar optical telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2, Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and ShinSat (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

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; following the February 2021 military coup, the regime revoked the media licenses of most independent outlets, including the free-to-air licenses for DVB and Mizzima (2022)

Internet users

total: 19,043,428 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 35% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 41

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 688,185 (2021)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1.27 (2021) less than 1

country comparison to the world: 81

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 8 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 42

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 3,407,788 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 4.74 million (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 36

over 3,047 m: 12

2,438 to 3,047 m: 11

1,524 to 2,437 m: 12

under 914 m: 1 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 28

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 10

under 914 m: 13 (2021)

Heliports

11 (2021)

Pipelines

3739 km gas, 1321 km oil (2017)

Railways

total: 5,031 km (2008)

narrow gauge: 5,031 km (2008) 1.000-m gauge

country comparison to the world: 40

Roadways

total: 157,000 km (2013)

paved: 34,700 km (2013)

unpaved: 122,300 km (2013)

country comparison to the world: 34

Merchant marine

total: 95

by type: bulk carrier 2, general cargo 39, oil tanker 5, other 49 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 92

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Mawlamyine (Moulmein), Sittwe

river port(s): Rangoon (Yangon) (Rangoon River)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Burmese Defense Service (Tatmadaw): Army (Tatmadaw Kyi), Navy (Tatmadaw Yay), Air Force (Tatmadaw Lay); People’s Militia; Ministry of Home Affairs: People's Police Force; Border Guard Forces/Police (2022)

note(s) - under the 2008 constitution, the Tatmadaw controls appointments of senior officials to lead the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Border Affairs, and the Ministry of Home Affairs; in March 2022, a new law gave the commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw the authority to appoint or remove the head of the police force

Military expenditures

4.1% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $7.7 billion)

4.4% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $8.1 billion)

4.7% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $7.8 billion)

4.9% of GDP (2016 est.) (approximately $7.8 billion)

5.1% of GDP (2015 est.) (approximately $7.9 billion)

country comparison to the world: 17

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimates vary widely, from approximately 300,000 to as many as 400,000 total active duty personnel (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Burmese military inventory is comprised mostly of older Chinese and Russian/Soviet-era equipment with a smaller mix of more modern acquisitions; since 2010, China and Russia are the leading suppliers of military hardware; Burma has a limited defense industry, including a growing shipbuilding capability (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-35 years of age (men) and 18-27 years of age (women) for voluntary military service; no conscription (a 2010 law reintroducing conscription has not yet entered into force); 2-year service obligation; male (ages 18-45) and female (ages 18-35) professionals (including doctors, engineers, mechanics) serve up to 3 years; service terms may be stretched to 5 years in an officially declared emergency (2021)

Military - note

since the country's founding, the armed forces have been heavily involved in domestic politics, running the country for five decades following a military coup in 1962; prior to the 2021 coup, the military already controlled three key security ministries (Defense, Border, and Home Affairs), one of two vice presidential appointments, 25% of the parliamentary seats, and had a proxy political party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)

as of 2022, the military owned and operated two business conglomerates that had over 100 subsidiaries and close ties to other companies; the business activities of these conglomerates included banking and insurance, hotels, tourism, jade and ruby mining, timber, construction, real estate, and the production of palm oil, sugar, soap, cement, beverages, drinking water, coal, and gas; some of the companies supplied goods and services to the military, such as food, clothing, insurance, and cellphone service; the military also managed a film industry, publishing houses, and television stations

as of 2022, the military's primary operational focus was internal security, particularly attempts to quell civilian armed resistance to the coup and counterinsurgency operations against ethnic-based insurgent groups; these operations have resulted in numerous civilian casualties, human rights abuses, and internal displacement

ethnic-based armed groups have been fighting against the Burmese Government since the country’s 1948 independence; as of 2022, there were approximately 20 such groups operating in Burma with strengths of a few hundred up to more than 20,000 estimated fighters; they reportedly controlled about one-third of the country’s territory, primarily in the border regions; key groups included the United Wa State Army, Karen National Union, Kachin Independence Army, Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army

as of 2022, 10 ethnic ethnic armed groups had signed a 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government; following the 2021 coup, several armed ethnic groups have added their support to anti-junta resistance groups or joined forces with local units of the armed wing of Burma's pro-democracy movement, known collectively as the People's Defense Force (PDF); the PDF consisted of hundreds of loosely-organized groups of fighters 

as of 2022, Burma also had a large number (estimates run into the thousands) of armed militias which took many different forms and varied in allegiances and size; most were pro-military government and associated with the Tatmadaw; some were integrated within the Tatmadaw’s command structure as Border Guard Forces (BGF); the BGF were organized as 325-man battalions, which included a mix of militia forces, ethnic armed groups, and government soldiers; they were armed, supplied, and paid by the Tatmadaw; other pro-military government militias were not integrated within the Tatmadaw command structure, but received direction from the military and were recognized as government militias; the amount of support they received from the Tatmadaw varied depending on local security conditions; the third type of pro-military government militias were small community-based units that were armed, coordinated, and trained by local Tatmadaw forces and activated as needed; as of 2022, the military government was reportedly raising new militia units to help combat the popular uprising

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

over half of Burma's population consists of diverse ethnic groups who have substantial numbers of kin in neighboring countries; Bangladesh struggles to accommodate 912,000 Rohingya, Burmese Muslim minority from Rakhine State, living as refugees in Cox's Bazar; Burmese border authorities are constructing a 200 km (124 mi) wire fence designed to deter illegal cross-border transit and tensions from the military build-up along border with Bangladesh in 2010; Bangladesh referred its maritime boundary claims with Burma and India to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea; Burmese forces attempting to dig in to the largely autonomous Shan State to rout local militias tied to the drug trade, prompts local residents to periodically flee into neighboring Yunnan Province in China; fencing along the India-Burma international border at Manipur's Moreh town is in progress to check illegal drug trafficking and movement of militants; over 100,000 mostly Karen refugees and asylum seekers fleeing civil strife, political upheaval, and economic stagnation in Burma were living in remote camps in Thailand near the border as of May 2017

Refugees and internally displaced persons

IDPs: 505,000 (government offensives against armed ethnic minority groups near its borders with China and Thailand, natural disasters, forced land evictions) (2020)

stateless persons: 600,000 (mid-year 2021); note - Rohingya Muslims, living predominantly in Rakhine State, are Burma's main group of stateless people; the Burmese Government does not recognize the Rohingya as a "national race" and stripped them of their citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law, categorizing them as "non-nationals" or "foreign residents"; under the Rakhine State Action Plan drafted in October 2014, the Rohingya must demonstrate their family has lived in Burma for at least 60 years to qualify for a lesser naturalized citizenship and the classification of Bengali or be put in detention camps and face deportation; native-born but non-indigenous people, such as Indians, are also stateless; the Burmese Government does not grant citizenship to children born outside of the country to Burmese parents who left the country illegally or fled persecution, such as those born in Thailand; the number of stateless persons has decreased dramatically because hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August 2017 to escape violence

note: estimate does not include stateless IDPs or stateless persons in IDP-like situations because they are included in estimates of IDPs (2017)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit men, women, and children through forced labor, and women and children in sex trafficking in Burma and abroad; Burmese men are forced to work domestically and abroad in fishing, manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, and construction; fishermen are lured into forced labor in remote waters and offshore by recruitment agencies in Burma and Southeast Asia; Burmese women increasingly are lured to China for marriage under false pretenses and are subjected to sex trafficking, forced concubinage and childbearing, and forced domestic labor; men, women, and children in ethnic minority areas are at increased risk of sex trafficking and forced labor in farming, manufacturing, and construction; men and boys are recruited locally by traffickers for forced labor in oil palm, banana, and rubber plantations, in mining, fishing, and bamboo, teak, rice, and sugarcane harvesting; some military personnel, civilian brokers, border guard officials, and ethnic armed groups continue to recruit child soldiers, particularly in conflict areas

tier rating: Tier 3 — Burma does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; authorities increased the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes, including those involving officials, and the investigation of forced labor in the fishing sector; the government identified and referred more victims to care and enacted legislation enhancing protections for child victims; however, a policy or pattern of forced labor existed; the use of children in labor and support roles by the military increased in conflict zones in Rakhine and Shan States; displacement resulting from military conflict made Rohingya and other ethnic groups vulnerable to human trafficking; the constitutionally guaranteed power of the military continued to limit the government’s ability to address forced adult labor and child soldier recruitment; although authorities allocated increased funding to victim protection, most services to trafficking victims were provided by NGOs and foreign donors (2020)

Illicit drugs

a major source of illicit methamphetamine and opiates; illicit import of precursor chemicals from China increased production and trafficking of synthetic drugs; second-largest opium poppy cultivator in Asia, with an estimated 20,200 hectares grown in 2019; “Yaba,” a tablet containing methamphetamine, caffeine, and other stimulants, is produced in Burma and trafficked regionally; ethnic armed organizations, military-affiliated militias, and transnational criminal organizations oversee billion dollar a drug production and trafficking industry; drugs produced in Burma are trafficked beyond Southeast Asia to Australia, New Zealand, and Japan; not a major source or transit country for drugs entering the United States