LOCATION (THE LAND)
The Union of Myanmar formed by 7 states and 7 divisions is situated in Southeast Asia sharing borders with China on the north, Laos and Thailand on the east and India and Bangladesh on the west. Total area of Myanmar is 676577 sq-km and it is the largest mainland in Southeast Asia. It is twice the size of Vietnam. The country stretches over 2090 km from north to south and over 925 km east to west. It has a 2832 km long coastline on the Indian Ocean. Over 50 percent of the total land area is covered with forests.It has four large rivers, the Ayeyarwaddy, the Chindwin, the Thanlwin and the Sittaung which flow from the north down to the south where they end in the Andaman Sea. Among them, the mighty Ayeyarwaddy, the confluence of Maykha and Malikha rivers in the north, serves as an artery of traffic.
Myanmar enjoys a tropical climate with three general seasons. The rainy season from mid May to mid October, the cool season (winter) from mid October to mid February and the hot season (summer) from mid February to mid May. The best time to visit Myanmar is from mid October to mid May.
Myanmar is a union of over 100 nationalities with their own languages and dialects. The major ethnic groups are the Bamar, the Chin, the Kachin, the Shan, the Kayah, the Kayin, the Mon and the Rakhine. The name Myanmar embraces all the nationalities. The Bamar is the largest group forming 70% of the total population of 54 millions. Second largest majority is the Shan, 9 % and the third is Kayin 6 %. There are 64 Districts, 324 Townships, 2470 Wards and 1374, village tracts in Myanmar.Yangon is the capital.
HISTORY (BRIEF IN HISTORICAL BACKGROND)
Early civilization in Myanmar dates back to the 1st century with archaeological evidence of the Pyu kingdoms of Beikthano. Hanlin and Thayekhittaya in central Myanmar. A group known as the Pyu, possibly hailing from the Pibeto-Berman plateau or from India created city-states in central Myanmar. The art and architecture they left behind indicate that they practiced Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism mixed with Hinduism. They had their own alphabet. In 10th century, the Pyu were dispersed by Yunnanese invaders. Around 6th century: the Mon who may have originated in eastern India, settled a kingdom at Suvanabhumi. According to the inscriptions they left behind, the Mon capital. Suvanabhumi, was around Thaton in present day Myanmar, but outside scholars argue that Suvanabhumi was centered Nakhon Pathom in Thailand. Around 8 or 9 century, the Burma or Barmans entered into Myanmar from somewhere in the eastern Himalayas. Once the Pyu were conquered by Yunnanse, the Bamars superseded the Pyu in central Myanmar. After they took over the central region, the Bamar came to conflict with the Mon for control of the whole country. Bamar king Anawrahta ascended the throne in 1044. He consolidated the whole country and founded the first Myanmar Empire with its capital in Bagan. Bagan reached its golden period in the 11th century. Unfortunately, Anawrahta was killed by a wild buffalo in 1077. None of his successors had his vision or energy so Bagan power declined slowly and ended with the invasion of Kublai Khan from Yunnan in China in 1287. The Mon once again established its own kingdom at Mottama and soon it was shifted to Bago as the kingdom of Hanthawady. The Shan took over upper Myanmar and founded the kingdom of Inwa and a weaker Bamar kingdom was established at Taunggu near Pyay. A series of Taunggu kings extended their power and the capital was shifted to Bago. In 1550, Bayintnaung came to the throne and reunified all of Myanmar by defeating neighboring regions. He is well known as the founder of the Second Myanmar Empire. Myanmar became powerful and prosperous country under the control of Bayintnaung. But after the death of king Bayintnuang in 1581, the kingdom went into decline and in 1636, the capital was shifted from Bago to Inwa. The worst was in 18 century: The Mon again established their kingdom in Bago, the hill-tribes raid into central Myanmar and the Mon conquered Inwa in 1752. But, in the same year Alaungpaya came to power in Shwebo. He reunified the country again and founded the third and the last Myanmar Empire. In 19 century, during Konbaung dynasty, the British, Dutch and France were vying for power in the east. The British gradually moved and annexed the whole country after three Anglo-Myanmar wars in 1825, 1852 and 1885. Myanmar became a British colony for over 100 years. During WWII, in 1942, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese. The Japanese granted Myanmar nominal independence in 1943. So, in 1945, under the leadership of Bogyoke Aung San, Myanmar people drove the Japanese away with the assistance of Allied Forces. Then, Bogyoke Aung San went into politics. He signed historic Aung San-Attlee Agreement in London and Pinlon Agreement in Shan State. We gained our independence on 4 Jan 1948.
Predominantly a Buddhist country with more than 80 percent of the people embracing Theravada Buddhism. There are also Christians, Muslims, Hindus and some animists. Most of tribal groups still follow their own traditional customs, cultures, costumes, dialects and life-styles. 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.
Jewelleries, electrical goods and cameras must be declared at the airport. Antiques and archaeologically valuable items are not allowed to be taken out.
Myanmar lies between two great civilizations, India and China, but it has developed its own distinctive culture. Buddhism has a great influence on the daily lives of the Myanmar people. The people have preserved the traditions of close family ties, respect for elders and simple native dress. While tolerance and contentment are the characteristics of the people, Myanmar's hospitality is legendary.
The official language is Myanmar. English is widely spoken and understood. 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.
Myanmar currency is the Kyat, made up of 100 pyas. Currency notes come in the following denominations; K 10000, K 5000,K 1000, K 500, K 200, K 100, K 50. Visitors are not allowed to bring in or take out Kyats.