Sharing the borders with Bangladesh & India in west and north-west, China, Laos & Thailand in east, north-east & south-east. The Andaman Sea & Bay of Bengal also surround the Myanmar costal region.
The total area of Myanmar is 676,577 sq km and it is the largest country in the South East Asia peninsula, it is divided into seven States and seven Divisions, containing snow-capped mountains ranges, rise to 5881 meters atop Hkakaborazi, the highest peak in South East Asia, high plateaus, fertile central plains of rice fields along the artery of Ayeyarwaddy River (the biggest river with the length of 2000 km), islands, beaches and many others more.
The history of what is now Myanmar has been made by a succession of peoples who migrated down along the Ayeyarwaddy River from Tibet & China, and who were influenced by social and political institutions that had been carried across the sea from India. First came the Mon, perhaps as early as 3000 BC. They established the centers of settlement in central Myanmar, in the Ayeyarwaddy delta, and farther down the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal.
The first unified Myanmar state was founded by King Anawrahta in the 11th century. It was the zenith period of Myanmar. In 1287, Bagan was conquered by the Mongols under Kublai Khan. In the second quarter of the 16th century, a new Myanmar dynasty emerged from the sleepy principality of Taungoo in central Myanmar by King Bayinnaung. After his death, the invasions of Portuguese, Thais, and Manipuri horsemen brought on the decline of the period. The dynasty was finally toppled by a Mon rebellion in 1752.
In 1752, Alaungpaya founded the Konbaung dynasty by restoring Myanmar rule first at Ava and later in the delta. Then, Myanmar was occupied by the British after three Anglo-Myanmar Wars in 1824, 1852 and 1885 with the last capital of Myanmar Kingdom-Mandalay. During the Second World War, Myanmar was conquered by Japanese and the British returned back after the war. In 1948, Myanmar gained back her independence.
Myanmar is now moving forwards to market-oriented economic system and most of the business is handed over to private sectors and foreign investments are warmly invited.
The country is divided in seven States and eight Divisions. In seven States, the majorities- Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine & Shan are living in their respective States. In eight Divisions, the majority of Myanmar peoples living- Ayeyarwaddy, Bago, Magwe, Mandalay, Naypyidaw, Sagaing, Thanintharyi and Yangon. Each state and division is subdivided into villages, village tracts, township and district.
The Names of the Country
In 1989, the colonial names were changed to the real names with Myanmar ascents. Those new names are not new for Myanmar peoples.
The climate of Myanmar and other countries in Southeast Asia follows a monsoon pattern. During the half of the year of the year that the sun’s rays strike directly above the equator, the landmass of Asia is heated more than in the Indian Ocean. This draws moist hot air from over the ocean onto the land, bringing the rains southwest monsoon. When the tilt of the earth brings the direct sunrays south of the equator, the heating of the Indian Ocean draws the cooler dry air of the northeast monsoon from the highlands of Asia across the countries of South and Southeast Asia. As a result, Myanmar has three seasons:
the hot season, the rainy season and the cold season. The hot season runs from late February to end of May. At the end of this season, the average monthly temperature reaches over 35°C in many pars of Myanmar. The rainy season starts from the beginning of June to the early of October. By July rains have brought the average temperature down to 29°C in Mandalay and 27°C in Yangon. The cold season is from the middle of October to middle of February. Average annual rainfall varies from about 5000 mm on the coastal region to about 760 mm at Mandalay.
A census taken in 2014 counted 51.4 million. The more detailed data will be released in May 2015.
74% live in rural areas. The largest cities, in declining order, are Yangon, Mandalay, Pathein, Mawlamyine, TaunggyiandSittwe. Yangon appears to have 6 million, Mandalay around 1 million, the remainder 800,000 or fewer.
National literacy 81.5%
Infant mortality rate 79 per 1000
Average life expectancy 59 years
Average citizen consumes 2448 calories per day
In the percentage of daily calories taken from rice consumption, Myanmar ranks first worldwide.
According to the World Development Report, 74% of Myanmar citizens have access to safe drinking water, a 252% increase since 1980.
Language & Religion
Most of the linguistic groups of Myanmar are monosyllabic and polytonal, similar to those of Tibet and China. The official Myanmar language is spoken by the majority of the population, including many of the ethnic minorities. About 15% of the population speaks Shan & Kayin. English is spoken among the educated and the country contains a sizable number of speakers of Chinese.
More than 86% of the people of Myanmar are Buddhists; most of them adhere to the school of Buddhism, as Buddhists in neighboring Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. The everyday practice of Buddhism is a well-developed culture of animism, the worship of spirits known as Nats. This culture provides a basis for many Nat festivals and for much of traditional medical practice. Christians (mostly Baptists) have also long formed a part of the population (about 15%) and there are a significant number of Muslims as well.
The population of Myanmar is about 56.2 millions. The overall population density is about 67 persons per sq km, one of the lowest in East Asia. The population is more than 75% rural, with almost half of the urban population found in the three largest cities: Yangon (about five millions), Mandalay (about one million) and Mawlamyine (about five hundred thousands). More than 69% of the population is Myanmar, ethnically to the Tibetan and the Chinese. In addition, several minorities with their own languages and cultures inhabit the country. They are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine & Shan.
The major population of Myanmar migrated into the Ayeyarwaddy River Valley from the north, bringing their spoken languages, their gender roles, and several varieties of food and medicine. From India on the west came the institutions of religion and government, but without the Indian caste system of social hierarchy. India was also the source of Pali, the sacred language, and of the Devanagari script in which the popular language is written, along with astrology and some kinds of food. The firm grounding of Buddhism in Myanmar culture contributed over the years to the building of many pagodas, which stand proudly to prove the grandeur role of Myanmar culture.
The social ideal for most Myanmar citizens-no matter what their ethnic background may be-is a standard of behavior commonly termed “Myanmar-ness”.
The degree to which a Myanmar can conform to these ideals matches the degree of respect he or she will receive from associates. Although high rank will exempt certain individuals from chastisement by inferiors, it doesn’t exempt
them from the way they are perceived by other Myanmar. This goes for foreigners as well, even though most first time visitors can hardly be expected to speak idiomatic Myanmar or recite Buddhist scripture.
Some Courtesies at Pagodas/Monasteries
Myanmar is the land of Pagodas, which overwhelm the country, forming the fascinating landscapes. When we visit those pagodas and temples, which are considered the most important, there are some advices to be careful.
*Please take off the shoes and socks when we enter the pagodas, temples or monasteries compounds. We have to go on barefoot and it would be more convenient
to wear the slippers during the trip so that we can easily take on and take off before and after visiting one pagoda to another.
*Please wear decently; long pants or longyis are highly appreciated. Please keep shoulders covered.
*Please visit the pagodas, temples or monasteries according to the clockwise.
*Buddha images are sacred objects, so don’t pose in front of them for pictures and definitely do not clamber upon them.
*It is possible to take the photos to the pagodas, temples (except some archaeological monuments) or the people. However, it would be better to ask the permission
if we want to make the persons nearby.
*As in other Buddhist countries the head is the highest part of the body-spiritually as well as literally. We should never deliberately touch somebody else on the head or pat a child on the head.
*The feet are the lowest part of the body; don’t point your feet at somebody.
*Indicating something with the foot is considered as the rude manner; please be careful not to lay down the feet toward the Buddha or the monks or even the normal persons.
*Monks are not supposed to touch or be touched by women. If a woman wants to offer something to a monk, the objects should be placed within reach of the monk, not handed directly to him.
*When we speak with the monks, the elder peoples or some high level persons, we should maintain the attitude of humble respect.
Some Courtesies in Social Life
Myanmar people are very friendly, moderate and expect the guests.
*A good consideration to preserve the polite way to the pagoda, they also apply in the daily life such as, wearing decently and don’t indicate with the feet.
*When we pass near or in front of the elder people, we bow our body in terms of showing respect.
*We don’t touch anyone of the opposite sex. Even we don’t shake hands and it is a bad manner.
*We always give or receive the things with the right hand, but the left hand has to keep on the right forearm.
*The men always walk on the right side of the ladies (only between couples), as we believe that the potency of the men is on the right side.
*Most of the Myanmar ladies and children wear Thanakha, Myanmar traditional cosmetic, made of bark from natural wood. They mainly apply on the cheek, the arms and the feet. This preserves to be fresh and make the skin to become soft.
The Myanmar people wear simple and elegant. It is a unique country in South East Asia where the majority of the people maintains the traditional costume. Due to the hot climate, both men and women wear longyis, except for those in the military, who wear trousers. The longyi is a loom woven length of cloth draped around the lower body and legs and tied at the waist. Male and female longyis also differ in the patterns printed or woven into them. On top men wear a light shirt, covered by a typical jacket on formal occasions. On the head, wear a gaungbaung, which for a farmer can be a simple length of cloth twisted around the head like a turban, while a government official at a formal event will have one made of silk and stretched over a light wicker frame. Women wear a long or short-sleeved blouse. Because of the hot weather and rains, sandals are worn rather than shoes. Umbrellas are carried throughout the year to keep off either sun or rain.
The Myanmar language lends itself well to poetry and puns since words are usually one syllable long, beginning and ending with consonants, while the vowel in the middle carries one of the several tones-low, high and short, or high and falling. Classical poems of four lines with four syllables in each line followed a complex rhyme scheme. A wealth of satirical puns plays on exchanging vowels.
Art & Architecture
Secular art is rare in Myanmar; most sculpture and painting is confined to a Buddhist context. Many large pagodas were constructed by kings and rich people seeking to earn religious merit. These pagodas consist of a massive central spire decorated with plant and animal designs and lesser shrines around the base; they are often topped by a jewel-encrusted hit, or umbrella. There are thousands of ancient pagodas in the old capital Bagan, others in the area of the former capital at Madalay, and the grand, gold-encased Shwedagon Pagoda atop the central hill in today’s capital, Yangon. Architecture, as well as other art forms, displays a dominant Indian influence. Artisans are known for their woven skills and lacquer ware.