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Burma (Myanmar)[Country flag of Burma]
[Country map of Burma]

Introduction Burma
Background:
Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; independence from the Commonwealth was attained in 1948. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. Despite multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory, the ruling junta refused to hand over power. NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, was imprisoned in May 2003 and is currently under house arrest. In December 2004, the junta announced it was extending her detention for at least an additional year. Her supporters, as well as all those who promote democracy and improved human rights, are routinely harassed or jailed.
Geography Burma
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: 678,500 sq km
land: 657,740 sq km
water: 20,760 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 5,876 km
border countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, Thailand 1,800 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 extremes:
lowest point: Andaman Sea 0 m
highest point: Hkakabo Razi 5,881 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 15.19%
permanent crops: 0.97%
other: 83.84% (2001)
Irrigated land:
15,920 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; industrial pollution of air, soil, and water; inadequate sanitation and water treatment contribute to disease
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes
People Burma
Population:
42,909,464
note: estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.2% (male 5,967,487/female 5,717,795)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 14,448,887/female 14,641,419)
65 years and over: 5% (male 939,092/female 1,194,784) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 26.14 years
male: 25.57 years
female: 26.72 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.42% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
18.11 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
12.15 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 67.24 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 73.11 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 61.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 60.7 years
male: 57.8 years
female: 63.78 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.01 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
330,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
20,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria are high risks in some locations (2004)
Nationality:
noun: Burmese (singular and plural)
adjective: Burmese
Ethnic groups:
Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Religions:
Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
Languages:
Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.3%
male: 89.2%
female: 81.4% (2002)
Government Burma
Country name:
conventional long form: Union of Burma
conventional short form: Burma
local long form: Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw (translated by the US Government as Union of Myanma and by the Burmese as Union of Myanmar)
local short form: Myanma Naingngandaw
former: Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma
note: since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw
Government type:
military junta
Capital:
Rangoon (government refers to the capital as Yangon)
Administrative divisions:
7 divisions (taing-myar, singular - taing) and 7 states (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne)
: divisions: Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Yangon
: states: Chin State, Kachin State, Kayin State, Kayah State, Mon State, Rakhine State, Shan State
Independence:
4 January 1948 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 January (1948); Union Day, 12 February (1947)
Constitution:
3 January 1974; suspended since 18 September 1988; national convention convened in 1993 to draft a new constitution but collapsed in 1996; reconvened in 2004 but does not include participation of democratic opposition
Legal system:
has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Sr. Gen. THAN SHWE (since 23 April 1992)
head of government: Prime Minister, Gen SOE WIN (since 19 October 2004)
cabinet: State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); military junta, so named 15 November 1997, which initially assumed power 18 September 1988 under the name State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC); the SPDC oversees the cabinet
elections: none
Legislative branch:
unicameral People's Assembly or Pyithu Hluttaw (485 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 27 May 1990, but Assembly never allowed by junta to convene
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NLD 392 (opposition), SNLD 23 (opposition), NUP 10 (pro-government), other 60
Judicial branch:
remnants of the British-era legal system are in place, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial; the judiciary is not independent of the executive
Political parties and leaders:
National League for Democracy or NLD [AUNG SHWE, chairman, AUNG SAN SUU KYI, general secretary]; National Unity Party or NUP (pro-government) [THA KYAW]; Shan Nationalities League for Democracy or SNLD [KHUN HTUN OO]; and other smaller parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma or NCGUB (self-proclaimed government in exile) ["Prime Minister" Dr. SEIN WIN] consists of individuals, some legitimately elected to the People's Assembly in 1990 (the group fled to a border area and joined insurgents in December 1990 to form parallel government in exile); Kachin Independence Army or KIA; Karen National Union or KNU; several Shan factions; United Wa State Army or UWSA; Union Solidarity and Development Association or USDA (pro-government, a social and political organization) [THAN AUNG, general secretary]
International organization participation:
APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: vacant
chancery: 2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-9044
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9046
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Charge d'Affaires Carmen M. MARTINEZ
embassy: 581 Merchant Street, Rangoon (GPO 521)
mailing address: Box B, APO AP 96546
telephone: [95] (1) 379 880, 379 881
FAX: [95] (1) 256 018
Flag description:
red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing, 14 white five-pointed stars encircling a cogwheel containing a stalk of rice; the 14 stars represent the 7 administrative divisions and 7 states
Economy Burma
Economy - overview:
Burma is a resource-rich country that suffers from government controls, inefficient economic policies, and abject rural poverty. The junta took steps in the early 1990s to liberalize the economy after decades of failure under the "Burmese Way to Socialism", but those efforts have since stalled and some of the liberalization measures have been rescinded. Burma has been unable to achieve monetary or fiscal stability, resulting in an economy that suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including inflation and multiple official exchange rates that overvalue the Burmese kyat. In addition, most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta began to suppress the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently ignored the results of the 1990 legislative elections. Economic sanctions against Burma by the United States - including a ban on imports of Burmese products and a ban on provision of financial services by US persons in response to the government of Burma's attack in May 2003 on AUNG SAN SUU KYI and her convoy - further slowed the inflow of foreign exchange. Official statistics are inaccurate. Published statistics on foreign trade are greatly understated because of the size of the black market and unofficial border trade - often estimated to be one to two times the size of the official economy. Though the Burmese government has good economic relations with its neighbors, a better investment climate and an improved political situation are needed to promote foreign investment, exports, and tourism. In February 2003, a major banking crisis hit the country's 20 private banks, shutting them down and disrupting the economy. As of January 2004, the largest private banks remained moribund, leaving the private sector with little formal access to credit.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$74.3 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-1.3% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 56.6%
industry: 8.8%
services: 34.5% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
27.01 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 70%, industry 7%, services 23% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
5.2% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
25% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
17.2% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
10.2% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $474.9 million
expenditures: $955.5 million, including capital expenditures of $5.7 billion (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products
Industries:
agricultural processing; knit and woven apparel; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer; cement
Industrial production growth rate:
NA
Electricity - production:
5.068 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 44.5%
hydro: 43.4%
nuclear: 0%
other: 12.1% (2002)
Electricity - consumption:
3.484 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
17,550 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
60,950 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
3,356 bbl/day (2003)
Oil - imports:
49,230 bbl/day (2003)
Oil - proved reserves:
3.2 billion bbl (2003)
Natural gas - production:
9.98 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
1.569 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
8.424 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
2.46 trillion cu m (2003)
Current account balance:
$-185 million (2004 est.)
Exports:
$2.137 billion f.o.b.
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 (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
clothing, gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice
Exports - partners:
Thailand 37.8%, India 11.7%, China 6%, Japan 5.3% (2004)
Imports:
$1.754 billion f.o.b.
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 (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fabric, petroleum products, plastics, machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, crude oil; food products
Imports - partners:
China 29.8%, Singapore 20.8%, Thailand 19.3%, South Korea 5.2%, Malaysia 4.8% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$590 million (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$6.752 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$127 million (2001 est.)
Currency (code):
kyat (MMK)
Currency code:
MMK
Exchange rates:
kyats per US dollar - 5.7459 (2004), 6.0764 (2003), 6.5734 (2002), 6.6841 (2001), 6.4257 (2000)
note: these are official exchange rates; unofficial exchange rates ranged in 2004 from 815 kyat/US dollar to nearly 970 kyat/US dollar
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Burma
Telephones - main lines in use:
357,300 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
66,500 (2003)
Telephone system:
general assessment: barely meets minimum requirements for local and intercity service for business and government; international service is fair
domestic: NA
international: country code - 95; satellite earth station - 2, Intelsat (Indian Ocean), and ShinSat
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 1 (2004)
Radios:
4.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (2004)
Televisions:
320,000 (2000)
Internet country code:
.mm
Internet hosts:
3 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1
note: as of September 2000, Internet connections were legal only for the government, tourist offices, and a few large businesses (2000)
Internet users:
28,000 (2003)
Transportation Burma
Railways:
total: 3,955 km
narrow gauge: 3,955 km 1.000-m gauge (2004)
Highways:
total: 28,200 km
paved: 3,440 km
unpaved: 24,760 km (1996 est.)
Waterways:
12,800 km (2004)
Pipelines:
gas 2,056 km; oil 558 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Moulmein, Rangoon, Sittwe
Merchant marine:
total: 37 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 429,144 GRT/659,622 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 8, cargo 19, passenger 3, passenger/cargo 3, roll on'roll off 3, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 10 (Germany 4, Japan 5, United Kingdom 1) (2005)
Airports:
78 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 9
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 69
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
914 to 1,523 m: 20
under 914 m: 31 (2004 est.)
Heliports:
1 (2004 est.)
Military Burma
Military branches:
Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw): Army, Navy, Air Force (2005)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service for both sexes (May 2002)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 11,254,374
females age 18-49: 11,303,100 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 6,512,923
females age 18-49: 6,789,720 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males: 440,914
females: 427,382 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$39 million (FY97)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.1% (FY97)
Transnational Issues Burma
Disputes - international:
over half of Burma's population consists of diverse ethnic groups with substantial numbers of kin beyond its borders; despite continuing border committee talks, significant differences remain with Thailand over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities; ethnic Karens flee into Thailand to escape fighting between Karen rebels and Burmese troops, in 2004 Thailand sheltered about 118,000 Burmese refugees; Karens also protest Thai support for a Burmese hydroelectric dam on the Salween River near the border; environmentalists in Burma and Thailand continue to voice concern over China's construction of hydroelectric dams upstream on the Nujiang/Salween River in Yunnan Province; India seeks cooperation from Burma to keep Indian Nagaland separatists from hiding in remote Burmese uplands
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
IDPs: 600,000 - 1,000,000 (government offensives against ethnic insurgent groups near borders; most IDPs are ethnic Karen, Karenni, Shan, and Mon) (2004)
Illicit drugs:
remains world's second largest producer of illicit opium (estimated production in 2004 - 292 metric tons, down 40% from 2003 due to eradication efforts and drought; cultivation in 2004 - 30,900 hectares, a 34% decline from 2003); lack of government will and ability to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort; major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption; currently under Financial Action Task Force countermeasures due to continued failure to address its inadequate money-laundering controls (2005)

This page was last updated on 1 November, 2005


 

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