Despite Western isolation, Asian corporations have generally remained willing to continue investing in the country and to initiate new investments, particularly in natural resource extraction. The country has close relations with neighbouring India and China with several Indian and Chinese companies operating in the country. Under India's Look East policySony VAIO PCG-3H1M battery, fields of cooperation between India and Burma include remote sensing, oil and gas exploration, information technology, hydro power and construction of ports and buildings. In 2008, India suspended military aid to Burma over the issue of human rights abuses by the ruling junta, although it has preserved extensive commercial ties which provide the regime with much needed revenue. Sony VAIO PCG-3F1M battery The thaw in relations began on 28 November 2011, when Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich and his wife Ludmila arrived in the capital, Naypyidaw, the same day as the country received a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also met with pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. International relations progress indicators continued in September 2012 when Aung San Suu Kyi visited to the US followed by Burma’s reformist president visit to the United Nations.
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Visits by Western Heads of State
Thein Sein meets U.S. President Barack Obama in Yangon, 18 November 2012
In mid October, 2012. former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair “led a delegation” to shake hands with President Thein Sein, and met with lower house speaker Shwe Mann. A British embassy spokesperson said he was there on behalf of The Office of Tony Blair, an umbrella group of foundations – inter-faith, sports, etcSony VAIO PCG-9Z2L battery. – and governance initiatives that he started up after leaving office. The spokesperson said only that he had “productive discussions about the reform process”.
On 3 November, 2012 European Commission President José Manuel Barroso met with Myanmar's President Thein Sein in Myanmar.
On 6 November, 2012 Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard met with Myanmar's President Thein Sein on the sidelines of the 9th Asia–Europe Meeting becoming the first Australian head of government to meet Burma's leader in nearly 30 years. Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1L battery
On 12 November, 2012 Sweden's Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt met President U Thein Sein at the presidential palace in the new capital, Naypyidaw while being accompanied on his visit by the Swedish Trade Minister Ewa Björling and two business delegations.
On 19 November 2012, US President Barack Obama arrived by Air Force One for about six hours in Burma on his first foreign visit following his 2012 reelection and was accompanied by Hillary Clinton, returning almost a year after her first visitSony VAIO PCG-9131L battery. Though he did not visit the capital, President Obama delivered a speech at Rangoon University, out of respect for the university where opposition to colonial rule first took hold. Obama's speech was broadcast live via Burmese state television channels but its simultaneous spoken translations was stopped when Obama began speaking about the Kachin Conflict. Obama also stated that recent violence in Rakhine state during the 2012 Rakhine State riots had to be addressed, he called for an end to communal violence between Muslims and Buddhists and then left to visit ThailandSony VAIO PCG-8161L battery.
Myanmar Air Force Nanchang A-5 attack aircraft during landing
Burma has also received extensive military aid from India and China in the past According to some estimates, Burma has received more than US$200 million in military aid from India. Burma has been a member of ASEAN since 1997. Though it gave up its turn to hold the ASEAN chair and host the ASEAN Summit in 2006, it is scheduled to chair the forum and host the summit in 2014Sony VAIO PCG-8152L battery. In November 2008, Burma's political situation with neighbouring Bangladesh became tense as they began searching for natural gas in a disputed block of the Bay of Bengal. The fate of Rohingya refugees also remains an issue between Bangladesh and Burma.
The country's armed forces are known as the Tatmadaw, which numbers 488,000. The Tatmadaw comprises the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. The country ranked twelfth in the world for its number of active troops in service.Sony VAIO PCG-8141L batteryThe military is very influential in the country, with top cabinet and ministry posts held by military officers. Official figures for military spending are not available. Estimates vary widely because of uncertain exchange rates, but military spending is very high. The country imports most of its weapons from Russia, Ukraine, China and IndiaSony VAIO PCG-8131L battery.
The country is building a research nuclear reactor near Pyin Oo Lwin with help from Russia. It is one of the signatories of the nuclear non-proliferation pact since 1992 and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 1957. The military junta had informed the IAEA in September 2000 of its intention to construct the reactor. The research reactor outbuilding frame was built by ELE steel industries limited of Yangon and water from Anisakhan/BE water fall will be used for the reactor cavity cooling systemSony VAIO PCG-81312L battery.
In 2010 as part of the Wikileaks leaked cables, Burma was suspected of using North Korean construction teams to build a fortified Surface-to-Air Missile facility.
Until 2005, the United Nations General Assembly annually adopted a detailed resolution about the situation in Burma by consensus. But in 2006 a divided United Nations General Assembly voted through a resolution that strongly called upon the government of Burma to end its systematic violations of human rights. Sony VAIO PCG-81214L battery In January 2007, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council calling on the government of Burma to respect human rights and begin a democratic transition. South Africa also voted against the resolution.
On November 19, 2012, Barack Obama became the first American president to visit Myanmar.
Further information: Agriculture in Burma, Golden Triangle (Southeast Asia), Tourism in Burma, and Transport in Burma
Graphical depiction of Myanmar's product exports in 28 color coded categories.
A street market in Yangon selling produceSony VAIO PCG-81115L battery.
The country is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, suffering from decades of stagnation, mismanagement and isolation. The lack of an educated workforce skilled in modern technology contributes to the growing problems of the economy. The country lacks adequate infrastructure. Goods travel primarily across the Thai border (where most illegal drugs are exported) and along the Irrawaddy River. Railways are old and rudimentarySony VAIO PCG-81114L battery, with few repairs since their construction in the late 19th century. Highways are normally unpaved, except in the major cities. Energy shortages are common throughout the country including in Yangon and only 25% of the country's population has electricity.
The military government has the majority stakeholder position in all of the major industrial corporations of the country (from oil production and consumer goods to transportation and tourism) Sony VAIO PCG-81113L battery.
The national currency is Kyat. Burma has a dual exchange rate system similar to Cuba. The market rate was around two hundred times below the government-set rate in 2006. Inflation averaged 30.1% between 2005 and 2007. Inflation is a serious problem for the economySony VAIO PCG-7142L battery.
In 2010–2011, Bangladesh exported products worth $9.65 million to Myanmar against its import of $179 million. The annual import of medicine and medical equipment to Burma during the 2000s was 160 million USD.
In recent years, both China and India have attempted to strengthen ties with the government for economic benefit. Many nations, including the United States and Canada, and the European Union, have imposed investment and trade sanctions on BurmaSony VAIO PCG-7141L battery. The United States has banned all imports from Burma. Foreign investment comes primarily from China, Singapore, the Philippines, South Korea, India, and Thailand.
Under British administration, Burma was the second-wealthiest country in South-East Asia. It had been the world's largest exporter of rice. Burma also had a wealth of natural and labour resources. It produced 75% of the world's teak and had a highly literate population. The country was believed to be on the fast track to development. Sony VAIO PCG-71111L battery However, agricultural production fell dramatically during the 1930s as international rice prices declined, and did not recover for several decades.
During World War II, the British destroyed the major oil wells and mines for tungsten, tin, lead and silver to keep them from the Japanese. Burma was bombed extensively by both sides. After a parliamentary government was formed in 1948, Prime Minister U Nu embarked upon a policy of nationalization and the state was declared the owner of all landSony VAIO PCG-61411L battery. The government also tried to implement a poorly considered Eight-Year plan. By the 1950s, rice exports had fallen by two thirds and mineral exports by over 96% (as compared to the pre-World War II period). Plans were partly financed by printing money, which led to inflation. The 1962 coup d'état was followed by an economic scheme called the Burmese Way to Socialism, a plan to nationalise all industries, with the exception of agriculture. The catastrophic program turned Burma into one of the world's most impoverished countries. Sony VAIO PCG-61112L battery Burma's admittance to Least Developed Country status by the UN in 1987 highlighted its economic bankruptcy.
The major agricultural product is rice which covers about 60% of the country's total cultivated land area. Rice accounts for 97% of total food grain production by weight. Through collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute 52 modern rice varieties were released in the country between 1966 and 1997Sony VAIO PCG-61111L battery, helping increase national rice production to 14 million tons in 1987 and to 19 million tons in 1996. By 1988, modern varieties were planted on half of the country's ricelands, including 98 percent of the irrigated areas. In 2008 rice production was estimated at 50 million tons.
Burma is also the world's second largest producer of opium, accounting for 8% of entire world production and is a major source of illegal drugs, including amphetamines. Sony VAIO PCG-5T4L battery Opium bans implemented since 2002 after international pressure have left ex-poppy farmers without sustainable sources of income in the Kokang and Wa regions. They depend on casual labour for income.
Burma produces precious stones such as Rubies, sapphires, pearls, and jade. Rubies are the biggest earner; 90% of the world's rubies come from the country, whose red stones are prized for their purity and hueSony VAIO PCG-5T3L battery. Thailand buys the majority of the country's gems. Burma's "Valley of Rubies", the mountainous Mogok area, 200 km (120 mi) north of Mandalay, is noted for its rare pigeon's blood rubies and blue sapphires. Many U.S. and European jewellery companies, including Bulgari, Tiffany, and Cartier, refuse to import these stones based on reports of deplorable working conditions in the minesSony VAIO PCG-5T2L battery. Human Rights Watch has encouraged a complete ban on the purchase of Burmese gems based on these reports and because nearly all profits go to the ruling junta, as the majority of mining activity in the country is government-run. The government of Burma controls the gem trade by direct ownership or by joint ventures with private owners of mines. Sony VAIO PCG-5S3L battery
Other industries include agricultural goods, textiles, wood products, construction materials, gems, metals, oil and natural gas.
Apartment building in Naypyidaw. Naypyidaw is the new capital of Burma which is nearing completion.
Since 1992, the government has encouraged tourism in the country. However, as of July 2006, fewer than 750,000 tourists entered the country annually. Sony VAIO PCG-5S2L battery Burma's Minister of Hotels and Tourism Saw Lwin has stated that the government receives a significant percentage of the income of private sector tourism services. Much of the country is completely off-limits to tourists, and the military very tightly controls interactions between foreigners and the people of Burma, particularly the border regions. They are not to discuss politics with foreigners, under penalty of imprisonment, and in 2001Sony VAIO PCG-5S1L battery, the Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board issued an order for local officials to protect tourists and limit "unnecessary contact" between foreigners and ordinary Burmese people.
The Government of Burma is currently under economic sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department. There remains active debate as to the extent to which the American-led sanctions have had adverse effects on the civilian population or on the military rulers. Sony VAIO PCG-5R2L battery
State Ownership/Corporatism and Economic liberalization post 2011
Main article: Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings
The military government has the majority stakeholder position in all of the major industrial corporations of the country (from oil production and consumer goods to transportation and tourism). In March 2012, a draft foreign investment law emerged, the first in more than 2 decades. Foreigners will no longer require a local partner to start a business in the countrySony VAIO PCG-5R1L battery, and will be able to legally lease but not own property. The draft law also stipulates that Burmese citizens must constitute at least 25% of the firm's skilled workforce, and with subsequent training, up to 50-75%.
In 2012, the Asian Development Bank formally began re-engaging with the country, to finance infrastructure and development projects in the country.  The United States, Japan and the European Union countries have also begun to reduce or eliminate economic sanctions to allow foreign direct investment which will provide the Burmese government with additional tax revenue. Sony VAIO PCG-5P4L battery
A block of flats in down-town Yangon, facing Bogyoke Market. Much of Yangon's urban population resides in densely populated flats.
Burma has a population of about 56 million. Population figures are rough estimates because the last partial census, conducted by the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs under the control of the military junta, was taken in 1983. No trustworthy nationwide census has been taken in Burma since 1931Sony VAIO PCG-5P2L battery. There are over 600,000 registered migrant workers from Burma in Thailand, and millions more work illegally. Burmese migrant workers account for 80% of Thailand's migrant workers. Burma has a population density of 75 per square kilometre (190 /sq mi), one of the lowest in Southeast Asia. Refugee camps exist along Indian, Bangladeshi and Thai borders while several thousand are in Malaysia. Conservative estimates state that there are over 295,800 refugees from BurmaSony VAIO PCG-5N4L battery, with the majority being Karenni, and Kayin and are principally located along the Thai-Burma border. There are nine permanent refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border, most of which were established in the mid-1980s. The refugee camps are under the care of the Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC). Since 2006, over 55,000 Burmese refugees have been resettled in the United StatesSony VAIO PCG-5N2L battery.
There are over 53.42 million Buddhists, over 2.98 million Christians, over 2.27 million Muslims, over 0.3 million Hindus and over 0.79 million of those who believe in other religions in the country, according to an answer by Union Minister at Myanmar Parliament on 8 September 2011.
Ne Win's rise to power in 1962 and his relentless persecution of "resident aliens" Sony VAIO PCG-51513L battery(immigrant groups not recognised as citizens of the Union of Burma) led to an exodus/expulsion of some 300,000 Burmese Indians. They migrated to escape racial discrimination and wholesale nationalisation of private enterprise a few years later in 1964. The Anglo-Burmese at this time either fled the country or changed their names and blended in with the broader Burmese societySony VAIO PCG-51511L battery.
Many Rohingya Muslims fled Burma and many refugees inundated neighbouring Bangladesh including 200,000 in 1978 as a result of the King Dragon operation in Arakan and 250,000 in 1991.
Burma is home to four major language families: Sino-Tibetan, Tai–Kadai, Austro-Asiatic, and Indo-European. Sino-Tibetan languages are most widely spoken. They include Burmese, Karen, Kachin, Chin, and Chinese. The primary Tai–Kadai language is Shan. Mon, Palaung, and Wa are the major Austroasiatic languages spoken in Burma. The two major Indo-European languages are Pali, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism, and EnglishSony VAIO PCG-51412L battery.
According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, Burma's official literacy rate as of 2000 was 89.9%. Historically, Burma has had high literacy rates. To qualify for least developed country status by the UN in order to receive debt relief, Burma lowered its official literacy rate from 78.6% to 18.7% in 1987. Sony VAIO PCG-51411L battery
Burma is ethnically diverse. The government recognises 135 distinct ethnic groups. While it is extremely difficult to verify this statement, there are at least 108 different ethnolinguistic groups in Burma, consisting mainly of distinct Tibeto-Burman peoples, but with sizeable populations of Tai–Kadai, Hmong–Mien, and Austroasiatic (Mon–Khmer) peoples. The Bamar form an estimated 68% of the population. 10% of the population are ShanSony VAIO PCG-51312L battery. The Kayin make up 7% of the population. The Rakhine people constitute 4% of the population. Overseas Chinese form approximately 3% of the population. Burma's ethnic minority groups prefer the term "ethnic nationality" over "ethnic minority" as the term "minority" furthers their sense of insecurity in the face of what is often described as "Burmanisation"—the proliferation and domination of the dominant Bamar culture over minority culturesSony VAIO PCG-51311L battery.
Mon, who form 2% of the population, are ethno-linguistically related to the Khmer. Overseas Indians comprise 2%. The remainder are Kachin, Chin, Anglo-Indians and other ethnic minorities. Included in this group are the Anglo-Burmese. Once forming a large and influential community, the Anglo-Burmese left the country in steady streams from 1958 onwards, principally to Australia and the U.K.. TodaySony VAIO PCG-51211L battery, it is estimated that only 52,000 Anglo-Burmese remain in the country. There are 110,000 Burmese refugees in Thai border camps.
89% of the country's population are Buddhist, according to a report on ABC World News Tonight in May 2008 and the Buddha Dharma Education Association.
Further information: HIV/AIDS in Burma
The general state of health care in Myanmar (Burma) is poor. The government spends anywhere from 0.5% to 3% of the country's GDP on health care, consistently ranking among the lowest in the world. Sony VAIO PCG-41112L batteryAlthough health care is nominally free, in reality, patients have to pay for medicine and treatment, even in public clinics and hospitals. Public hospitals lack many of the basic facilities and equipment.
HIV/AIDS, recognised as a disease of concern by the Burmese Ministry of Health, is most prevalent among sex workers and intravenous drug users. In 2005, the estimated adult HIV prevalence rate in Burma was 1.3% (200,000 – 570,000 people) Sony VAIO PCG-3A4L battery, according to UNAIDS, and early indicators of any progress against the HIV epidemic are inconsistent. However, the National AIDS Programme Burma found that 32% of sex workers and 43% of intravenous drug users in Burma have HIV.
Burma's government spends the least percentage of its GDP on health care of any country in the world, and international donor organisations give less to Burma, per capita, than any other country except India. According to the report named "Preventable Fate", published by Doctors without Borders, 25,000 Burmese AIDS patients died in 2007, deaths that could largely have been prevented by antiretroviral therapy drugs and proper treatment. Sony VAIO PCG-3A3L battery
In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Myanmar is 240. This is compared with 219.3 in 2008 and 662 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 73 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 47Sony VAIO PCG-3A2L battery.
Rama (Yama) and Sita (Me Thida) in the Burmese version of the Ramayana, Yama Zatdaw.
A diverse range of indigenous cultures exist in Burma, the majority culture is primarily Buddhist and Bamar. Bamar culture has been influenced by the cultures of neighbouring countries. This is manifested in its language, cuisine, music, dance and theatre. The arts, particularly literature, have historically been influenced by the local form of Theravada BuddhismSony VAIO PCG-3A1L battery. Considered the national epic of Burma, the Yama Zatdaw, an adaptation of India's Ramayana, has been influenced greatly by Thai, Mon, and Indian versions of the play. Buddhism is practised along with nat worship which involves elaborate rituals to propitiate one from a pantheon of 37 nats.
Mohinga, rice noodles in fish soup, is widely considered to be Burma's national dish.
In a traditional village, the monastery is the centre of cultural life. Monks are venerated and supported by the lay peopleSony VAIO PCG-394L battery. A novitiation ceremony called shinbyu is the most important coming of age events for a boy, during which he enters the monastery for a short period of time. All male children in Buddhist families are encouraged to be a novice (beginner for Buddhism) before the age of twenty and to be a monk after the age of twenty. Girls have ear-piercing ceremonies at the same time. Burmese culture is most evident in villages where local festivals are held throughout the yearSony VAIO PCG-393L battery, the most important being the pagoda festival. Many villages have a guardian nat, and superstition and taboos are commonplace.
Thingyan festival, the Burmese New Year
British colonial rule also introduced Western elements of culture to Burma. Burma's educational system is modelled after that of the United Kingdom. Colonial architectural influences are most evident in major cities such as Yangon.Sony VAIO PCG-391L battery Many ethnic minorities, particularly the Karen in the southeast, and the Kachin and Chin who populate the north and north-east, practice Christianity. According to the CIA World Factbook, the Burman population is 68%, and the Ethnic groups comprise of 32%. However, the exiled leaders and organisations claims that Ethnic population is 40% which is implicitly contrasted with CIA report (official U.S report) Sony VAIO PCG-384L battery.
Burmese, the mother tongue of the Bamar and official language of Burma, is related to Tibetan and to the Chinese languages. It is written in a script consisting of circular and semi-circular letters, which were adapted from the Mon script, which in turn was developed from a southern Indian script in the 8th century. The earliest known inscriptions in the Burmese script date from the 11th century. It is also used to write PaliSony VAIO PCG-383L battery, the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, as well as several ethnic minority languages, including Shan, several Karen dialects, and Kayah (Karenni), with the addition of specialised characters and diacritics for each language. The Burmese language incorporates widespread usage of honorifics and is age-oriented. Burmese society has traditionally stressed the importance of education. In villages, secular schooling often takes place in monasteriesSony VAIO PCG-382L battery. Secondary and tertiary education take place at government schools.
Many religions are practised in Burma. Religious edifices and orders have been in existence for many years. Festivals can be held on a grand scale. The Christian and Muslim populations do, however, face religious persecution and it is hard, if not impossible, for non-Buddhists to join the army or get government jobsSony VAIO PCG-381L battery, the main route to success in the country. Such persecution and targeting of civilians is particularly notable in Eastern Burma, where over 3000 villages have been destroyed in the past ten years. More than 200,000 Rohingya Muslims have settled in Bangladesh, to escape persecution, over the past 20 years.
In February 2012, 1000 Buddhist monks and followers gathered for the 18th annual Shwegyin Nikaya Conference at the compound of Dhammaduta Zetawon Tawya Monastery in Hmawbi Township, Yangon RegionSony VAIO PCG-7185L battery.
89% of the population embraces Buddhism (mostly Theravāda). Other religions are practiced largely without obstruction, with the notable exception of some ethnic minorities such as the Muslim Rohingya people, who have continued to have their citizenship status denied and treated as illegal immigrants instead, and Christians in Chin State. 4% of the population practices Islam; 4% Christianity; 1% traditional animistic beliefsSony VAIO PCG-7184L battery; and 2% follow other religions, including Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, East Asian religions and the Bahá'í Faith. However, according to a U.S. State Department's 2010 international religious freedom report, official statistics are alleged to underestimate the non-Buddhist population. Independent researchers put the Muslim population at 6 to 10% of the population. A tiny Jewish community in Rangoon had a synagogue but no resident rabbi to conduct services. Sony VAIO PCG-7183L battery
Although Hinduism is presently only practiced by 1% of the population, it was a major religion in Burma's past. Several strains of Hinduism existed alongside both Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism in the Pyu period in the first millennium CE, and down to the Pagan period (9th to 13th centuries) when "Saivite and Vaishana elements enjoyed greater elite influence than they would later do." Sony VAIO PCG-7182L battery
Main article: Burmese units of measurement
According to the CIA Factbook, Burma is one of three countries that has not adopted the International System of Units (SI) metric system as their official system of weights and measures. The common units of measure are unique to Burma, but the government web pages use both imperial units and metric units and in June 2011, the Burmese government's Ministry of Commerce began discussing proposals to reform the measurement system in Burma and adopt the metric system used by most of its trading partners. Sony VAIO PCG-7181L battery
Main article: Geography of Burm
Burma, which has a total area of 678,500 square kilometres (262,000 sq mi), is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, and the 40th-largest in the world. It lies between latitudes 9° and 29°N, and longitudes 92° and 102°E. As of February 2011, Burma consisted of 14 states and regions, 67 districts, 330 townships, 64 sub‐townships, 377 towns, 2914 Wards, 14220 village tracts and 68290 villagesSony VAIO PCG-7174L battery.
It is bordered on the northwest by the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh and the Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh states of India. Its north and northeast border straddles the Tibet and Yunnan regions of China for a Sino-Burman border total of 2,185 kilometres (1,358 mi). It is bounded by Laos and Thailand to the southeastSony VAIO PCG-7173L battery. Burma has 1,930 kilometres (1,200 mi) of contiguous coastline along the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea to the southwest and the south, which forms one quarter of its total perimeter.
In the north, the Hengduan Shan mountains form the border with China. Hkakabo Razi, located in Kachin State, at an elevation of 5,881 metres (19,295 ft), is the highest point in Burma. Many mountain ranges, such as the Rakhine Yoma, the Bago Yoma, the Shan Hills and the Tenasserim Hills exist within BurmaSony VAIO PCG-7172L battery, all of which run north-to-south from the Himalayas. The mountain chains divide Burma's three river systems, which are the Irrawaddy, Salween (Thanlwin), and the Sittaung rivers. The Irrawaddy River, Burma's longest river, nearly 2,170 kilometres (1,348 mi) long, flows into the Gulf of Martaban. Fertile plains exist in the valleys between the mountain chains. The majority of Burma's population lives in the Irrawaddy valley, which is situated between the Rakhine Yoma and the Shan PlateauSony VAIO PCG-7171L battery.
Administrative divisions (regions and states)
The country is divided into seven states and seven regions, formerly called divisions. The announcement on the renaming of division to regions was made on 20 August 2010. Regions are predominantly Bamar (that is, mainly inhabited by the dominant ethnic group). States, in essence, are regions which are home to particular ethnic minorities. The administrative divisions are further subdivided into districtsSony VAIO PCG-7162L battery, which are further subdivided into townships, wards, and villages.
Below are the number of districts, townships, cities/towns, wards, village Groups and villages in each divisions and states of Burma as of 31 December 2001:
Much of the country lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator. It lies in the monsoon region of Asia, with its coastal regions receiving over 5,000 mm (196.9 in) of rain annually. Annual rainfall in the delta region is approximately 2,500 mm (98.4 in), while average annual rainfall in the Dry Zone, which is located in central Burma, is less than 1,000 mm (39.4 in) Sony VAIO PCG-7161L battery. Northern regions of the country are the coolest, with average temperatures of 21 °C (70 °F). Coastal and delta regions have an average maximum temperature of 32 °C (89.6 °F).
The country's slow economic growth has contributed to the preservation of much of its environment and ecosystems. Forests, including dense tropical growth and valuable teak in lower Burma, cover over 49% of the country, including areas of acacia, bamboo, ironwood and michelia champacaSony VAIO PCG-7154L battery. Coconut and betel palm and rubber have been introduced. In the highlands of the north, oak, pine and various rhododendrons cover much of the land. Heavy logging since the new 1995 forestry law went into effect has seriously reduced forest acreage and wildlife habitat. The lands along the coast support all varieties of tropical fruits and once had large areas of mangroves although much of the protective mangroves have disappeared. In much of central Burma (the Dry Zone)Sony VAIO PCG-7153L battery, vegetation is sparse and stunted.
Typical jungle animals, particularly tigers and leopards, occur sparsely in Burma. In upper Burma, there are rhinoceros, wild buffalo, wild boars, deer, antelope, and elephants, which are also tamed or bred in captivity for use as work animals, particularly in the lumber industry. Smaller mammals are also numerous, ranging from gibbons and monkeys to flying foxes and tapirsSony VAIO PCG-7152L battery. The abundance of birds is notable with over 800 species, including parrots, peafowl, pheasants, crows, herons, and paddybirds. Among reptile species there are crocodiles, geckos, cobras, Burmese pythons, and turtles. Hundreds of species of freshwater fish are wide-ranging, plentiful and are very important food sources. For a list of protected areas, see List of protected areas of BurmaSony VAIO PCG-7151L battery.
The educational system of Burma is operated by the government agency, the Ministry of Education. Universities and professional institutes from upper Burma and lower Burma are run by two separate entities, the Department of Higher Education of Upper Burma and the Department of Higher Education of Lower Burma. Headquarters are based in Yangon and Mandalay respectively. The education system is based on the United Kingdom's systemSony VAIO PCG-7148L battery, due to nearly a century of British and Christian presences in Burma. Nearly all schools are government-operated, but there has been a recent increase in privately funded English language schools. Schooling is compulsory until the end of elementary school, probably about 9 years old, while the compulsory schooling age is 15 or 16 at international level.
There are 101 universities, 12 institutes, 9 degree colleges and 24 colleges in Burma, a total of 146 higher education institutions. Sony VPCW21M2E/WI battery
Students on their way to school, Hakha, Chin State, Burma
There are 10 Technical Training Schools, 23 nursing training schools, 1 sport academy and 20 midwifery schools.
There are 2047 Basic Education High Schools, 2605 Basic Education Middle Schools, 29944 Basic Education Primary Schools and 5952 Post Primary Schools. 1692 multimedia classrooms exist within this systemSony VPCW21C7E battery.
There are four international schools which are acknowledged by WASC and College Board – The International School Yangon (ISY), Crane International School Yangon (CISM), Yangon International School (YIS) and International School of Myanmar (ISM) in Yangon.
Due to Burma's political climate, there are not many media companies in relation to the country's population, although a certain number exists. Some are privately owned, but all programming must meet with the approval of the censorship boardSony VPCW12S1E/WZ battery.
Burma announced on 20 August 2012, that it will stop censoring media before publication. Newspapers and other outlets would no longer have to be approved by state censors, journalists in the country could still face consequences for what they write and say.
Burma also was in the attention of the media's eye when on November 18, 2012 Barack Obama visited the country, making it the first time a sitting U.S. president has traveled thereSony VPCW12S1E/W battery.
Burma is the primary subject of a 2007 graphic novel titled Chroniques Birmanes by Québécois author and animator, Guy Delisle. The graphic novel was translated into English under the title Burma Chronicles in 2008. In 2009, a documentary about Burmese videojournalists called Burma VJ was released. This film was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2010 Academy AwardsSony VPCW12S1E/T battery.
Naypyidaw is the capital city of Burma, also known as Myanmar. It is administered as the Naypyidaw Union Territory, as per the 2008 Constitution. On 6 November 2005, the administrative capital of Myanmar was officially moved to a greenfield 3.2 km (2.0 mi) west of Pyinmana, and approximately 320 km (200 mi) north of Yangon (Rangoon), the previous capital. The capital's official name was announced on 27 March 2006Sony VPCW12S1E/P batterySony VPCW11S1E/W battery, Myanmar Armed Forces Day. Much of this planned city is still under construction, which is set to be completed by around 2012. As of 2009, the population was 925,000, which makes it Myanmar's third largest city, behind Yangon and Mandalay. The city is one of the world's 10 fastest-growing cities.
Nay Pyi Daw is generally translated as "royal capital", "seat of the king" or "abode of kings". Traditionally, it was used as a suffix to the names of royal capitals, such as Mandalay, which was called (Yadanabon Naypyidaw). The name literally means "royal city of the sun" in BurmeseSony VPCW11S1E/T battery.
Naypyidaw has a short history, having been founded on a greenfield site in the shrubland some 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of Pyinmana, and approximately 320 kilometres (200 mi) north of Yangon, with construction starting in 2002. At least 25 construction companies were hired by the military government to build the city, including Asia World and Htoo Ltd. Sony VPCW11S1E/P battery The military government began moving government ministries from Yangon to Naypyidaw on 6 November 2005 at the astrologically auspicious time of 6:37 a.m. Five days later, on 11 November at 11 a.m., a second convoy of 1,100 military trucks carrying 11 military battalions and 11 government ministries left Yangon. The ministries were expected to be mostly in place by the end of February 2006Sony VPCYA1S1E/B battery; however, the hasty move led to a lack of schools and other amenities which separated the government employees from their families for the time being. The government originally prohibited families of government workers from moving to the new capital. Military headquarters were located in a separate compound from the government ministries, and civilians have been banned from entering either. Vendors are restricted to a commercial zone near the government officesSony VPCY21S1E/SI battery.
On 27 March 2006, more than 12,000 troops marched in the new capital in its first public event: a massive military parade to mark Armed Forces Day—which is the anniversary of then Burma's 1945 uprising against the Japanese occupation of Burma. Filming was restricted to the concrete parade ground which contains three enormous sculptures—depictions of the Myanmar kings Anawrahta, Bayinnaung and AlaungpayaSony VPCY21S1E/L battery, who are considered the three most important kings in Myanmar history. The city was officially named Naypyidaw during these ceremonies.
Naypyidaw is more centrally and strategically located than the old capital, Yangon. It is also a transportation hub located adjacent to the Shan, Kayah and Kayin states. It was felt that a stronger military and governmental presence nearby might provide stability to those chronically turbulent regions. Sony VPCY21S1E/G battery The official explanation for moving the capital was that Yangon had become too congested and crowded with little room for future expansion of government offices.
Some Western diplomats speculated that the government were concerned with the possibility of foreign attack, as Yangon is on the coast and therefore vulnerable to an amphibious invasion. The popular belief among the Burmese is that a warning about foreign attack was delivered to the military chief by an astrologer. Sony VPCY11S1E/S batteryIndian journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, who visited Naypyidaw in January 2007, described the vastness of the new capital as "the ultimate insurance against regime change, a masterpiece of urban planning designed to defeat any putative "colour revolution" – not by tanks and water cannons, but by geometry and cartography"Sony VPCY11S1E battery.
Naypyidaw is located between the Bago Yoma and Shan Yoma mountain ranges. The city covers an area of 7,054.37 km2 (2,723.71 sq mi) and has a population of 924,608, according to official figures.
Chaungmagyi Dam is located a few kilometers to the north of Naypyidaw, while Ngalaik Dam is a few kilometers to the south. The Yezin Dam is farther away in the northeast.
Naypyidaw is organized into a number of zones. As of 2011, the city is still lacking many of the facilities one would expect in a capital citySony VPCZ11X9E/B battery.
The residential areas are carefully organized, and apartments are allotted according to rank and marital status. The city currently has 1,200 four-story apartment blocks. The roofs of apartment buildings are color-coded by the jobs of their residents; Ministry of Health employees live in buildings with blue roofs and Ministry of Agriculture employees live in those with green roofs. High-ranking government officials live in mansions, of which there are about 50. Many of the city's residents, however, live in slums. Sony VPCZ11Z9E/B battery
High-ranking military officers and other key officials live 11 km (6.8 mi) away from regular government employees in a complex said to consist of tunnels and bunkers; this area is restricted to the public. The city also hosts a military base, which is inaccessible to citizens or other personnel without written permission. Inside the military zone, the roads have eight lanes to allow small aircraft to landSony VPCZ12M9E/B battery.
The city's Ministry zone contains the headquarters of Burma's government ministries. All the ministry buildings are identical in appearance. A parliamentary complex consisting of 31 buildings and a 100-room presidential palace are also located there. The zone also contains the city hall building, which has many characteristics of Stalinist architecture, but with a Burmese-style roofSony VPCZ12X9E/X battery.
The Hotel zone has a handful of villa-style hotels on the hilly outskirts of the city. There are currently twelve hotels located in or near Naypyidaw. Eight of these are located within the Naypyidaw Hotel Zone, and two are located in Laeway (Lewe) on the Yangon-Mandalay Road.
348 hotels and 442 inns are being constructed to house the athletes spectators of the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, which will be hosted in Naypyidaw. Sony VPCZ13M9E/B battery
Naypyitaw Myoma Market is currently the commercial centre of Naypyidaw.
Other shopping areas include Thapye Chaung Market and Junction Centre Naypyidaw. Built by the Shwe Taung Development company and completed in August 2009, Junction Centre is the capital's first privately operated shopping centre. There are also local markets and a restaurant areaSony VPCZ21M9E battery.
Ngalaik Lake Gardens is a small water park situated along the Ngalaik Dam, near Kyweshin Village on Ngalaik Lake (approximately seven miles from Naypyidaw). Opened in 2008, facilities at the Ngalaik Lake Gardens include water slides, natural resorts, lodging and a beach. The gardens are open to the public during Thingyan holidays. Sony VPCZ21Q9E battery
Also opened in 2008, the 200-acre (0.81 km2) National Herbal Park has exhibits of plants having medicinal applications from all of the major regions of Burma. There are thousands of plants at the park, representing hundreds of different species.
Behind the city hall, there is a park with a playground and water fountain complex, which hosts a musical light show every night.
The Naypyidaw Zoological Gardens opened in 2008 with some 420 animals and a climate-controlled penguin house. It is the largest zoo in Burma. The Naypyidaw Safari Park officially opened on 12 February 2011Sony VPCZ21V9E battery.
Naypyidaw also boasts two golf courses (Nay Pyi Taw City Golf Course and Yaypyar Golf Course) and a gem museum.
Similar in size and shape to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Uppatasanti Pagoda was completed in 2009. This new pagoda is named the Uppatasanti or "Peace Pagoda". The stake-driving ceremony for the pagoda was held on 12 November 2006. The invitation card for the ceremony opened with a phrase "Rajahtani NaypyidawSony VPCEH3T9E battery (the royal capital where the king resides)". The pagoda is just 30 cm (12 in) shorter than the Shwedagon Pagoda. Uppatasanti translates roughly to "Protection against Calamity". It is the name of a sūtra prepared by a monk in the early 16th century. It is to be recited in time of crisis, especially in the face of foreign invasion.
The government has set aside 2 hectares (4.9 acres) of land each for foreign embassies and headquarters of United Nations missions. So far, no foreign missions have moved to NaypyidawSony VPCEH3N6E battery.
The Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards are held annually in Naypyidaw given to the highest achievers in Myanmar cinema. There is a movie theater in the Junction Centre Mall in Naypyidaw. There are two others in nearby Pyinmana, and one in Tatkon Township.
Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Complex (Parliament)
Lobby of Zeyathiri Beikman, the government guesthouse for high level delegations.
Naypyidaw is a Union Territory under the direct administration of the President. Day-to-day functions are carried out on the President's behalf by the Naypyidaw Council led by a ChairpersonSony VPCEH3N1E battery. The Chairperson and members of the Naypyidaw Council are appointed by the President and include both civilians and Armed Forces representatives.
On 30 March 2011, President Thein Sein appointed Thein Nyunt as chairman of the Naypyidaw Council, along with 9 chair members: Than Htay, Colonel Myint Aung Than, Kan Chun, Paing Soe, Saw Hla, Myint Swe, Myint Shwe and Myo Nyunt. Sony VPCEH3D0E battery
The Naypyidaw Union Territory consists of the city proper (downtown) and eight surrounding townships. Downtown is further divided into four wards. Pyinmana, Lewe, and Tatkon townships were all formerly part of Yamethin District. Oathara Thiri, Dekkina Thiri, Poppha Thiri, Zapu Thiri, and Zeyar Thiri are all new townships currently under construction. As of December 2009, most government ministry offices have been relocated to the administrative capital. Only the offices of ministries' directorates remain in YangonSony VPCEH3B1E battery.
Public transport services are limited between neighborhoods. The eight-lane, 323.2 km (200.8 mi) Yangon-Naypyidaw highway links Naypyidaw with Yangon directly, and is part of the 563 km (350 mi)-long overall Yangon-Naypyidaw-Mandalay highway. There is also a 20-lane boulevard, but like most roads in the city, it is largely empty.
In August 2011, Russian news media announced that a Russian-based firm would be constructing a 50 kilometres (31 mi) metro line, which would be the country's first underground rail systemSony VPCEH2Z1E battery, underneath Naypyidaw. However, the Rail Transportation Ministry then announced that the plan had been cancelled due to lack of demand and budgetary limits.
Naypyidaw has four-lane roads and multilevel, flower-covered roundabouts (US term: traffic circles, ) although there is only light traffic throughout the city. Government ministries run shuttle buses in the morning and evening to their respective buildings.
The city has a central bus station, and only one taxi company, which is operated by the military. Sony VPCEH2S9E battery
Motorbikes are banned from some roads within Naypyidaw city limits, including sections of Taw Win Yadana Road, resulting from hundreds of traffic accident-related deaths in 2009.
Further information: Myanmar Railways
Naypyidaw railway station (published as Nay Pyi Taw railway station) was opened at milepost No. (233/0), between Ywataw station and Kyihtaunggan station on the Yangon-Mandalay railroad with a station area of 9,000 ft × 4,000 ft (2,700 m × 1,200 m) Sony VPCEH2Q1E battery and a covered area of 826.5 acres (3.345 km2). Construction began on 8 December 2006 and Naypyidaw railway station was opened on 5 July 2009, even though the overpass, locomotive shed, concrete road leading up to the station, parking lot, passenger lounge and platform were not yet completed.
Myanmar Railways has announced that passengers traveling on all trains except mail and local ones are to get off only at Nay Pyi Taw Station as they will not stop at Pyinmana Station after the inauguration of Nay Pyi Taw Station.Sony VPCEH2P0E battery
Prior to the opening of Naypyidaw railway station, Naypyidaw was served by Pyinmana and Lewe stations, though only Pyinmana station is on the main rail line (which extends from Yangon-Bago-Naypyidaw-Thazi-Mandalay). Lewe station is located on the way from Pyinmana to Kyaukpadaung. It takes nine hours by train to get from Yangon to Pyinmana; trains leave at 12:00 and arrive at 21:30 local timeSony VPCEH2N1E battery.
Naypyidaw Airport, also known as Ayelar Airport, is located 10 miles (16 km) southeast of the city, between the towns of Ela and Lewe. It is served by all domestic airlines--Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Myanma Airways and Yangon Airways—with regular flights to Yangon and other cities across the country. Since April 2009, the airport is undergoing major expansion to handle up to 3.5 million passengers per yearSony VPCEH2M9E battery.
Hong Kong Airlines on 29 June 2011 operated 4 round-trip charter services between Hong Kong and Naypyidaw with Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
Nay Pyi Taw Hospital opened in 2006. There is also the Defence Services Obstetric, Gynaecological and Children's Hospital, 300-bed facility which is among the teaching hospitals of the Burmese Defence Services Medical Academy. The nearby towns of Lewe, Pyinmana, and Tatkon each have one hospital. Sony VPCEH2M1E battery
Beginning in 2009, Naypyidaw has CDMA mobile phone coverage. Private telephone lines to employees living in government apartments are not allowed, so public telephones must be used. Naypyidaw is the only city in Burma where electricity is available 24 hours a daySony VPCEH2L9E battery.