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

Location: South-eastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand
Geographic coordinates: 22 00 N, 98 00 E
Population: 54,584,650 (July 2012 est.)

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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years:  27.5% (male 7,560,859/female 7,278,652)

15-64 years: 67.5% (male 18,099,707/female 18,342,696)

65 years and over: 5% (male 1,184,291/female 1,533,599) (2011 est.)

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
Telephones – main lines in use: 521,100 (2011)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 1.244 million (2011)
Airports: 74 (2012)
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 (2012)

Military branches: Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw): Army, Navy, Air Force (Tatmadaw Lay) (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 18-35 years of age (men) and 18-27 years of age (women) for compulsory military service; service obligation 2 years; male (ages 18-45) and female (ages 18-35) professionals (including doctors, engineers, mechanics) serve up to 3 years; service terms may be extended to 5 years in an officially declared emergency; forced conscription of children, although officially prohibited, reportedly continues; on 27 June 2012, the regime signed a Joint Action Plan on prevention of child recruitment (2012)


Burma, a resource-rich country, suffers from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic policies, and 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 stalled, and some of the liberalization measures were rescinded. Despite Burma’s increasing oil and gas revenue, socio-economic conditions have deteriorated due to the regime’s mismanagement of the economy.


Lacking monetary or fiscal stability, the economy suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances – including rising inflation, fiscal deficits, multiple official exchange rates that overvalue the Burmese kyat, a distorted interest rate regime, unreliable statistics, and an inability to reconcile national accounts to determine a realistic GDP figure. Most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta began to suppress the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently refused to honour the results of the 1990 legislative elections.

Transnational Issues:Over half of Burma’s population consists of diverse ethnic groups who have substantial numbers of kin in neighbouring countries; Thailand must deal with Karen and other ethnic rebels, illegal cross-border activities, Karen and other refugees, and asylum seekers from Burma; Thailand is studying the feasibility of jointly constructing the Hatgyi Dam on the Salween River near the border with Burma; in 2004, international environmentalist pressure prompted China to halt construction of 13 dams on the Salween River which flows through China, Burma, and Thailand; India seeks cooperation from Burma to keep Indian Nagaland separatists, such as the United Liberation Front of Assam, from hiding in remote Burmese Uplands; Burmese Rohingya Muslim refugees reside in two camps in Bangladesh.