Myanmar also known as Burma, is a sovereign state in South East Asia.
The official name of the country is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
It is bordered in north and northeast by China, in east by Laos and Thailand, in south by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal and in west by Bangladesh and India.
The official language is Burmese.
As of 1 January 2017, the population of Myanmar was estimated to be 54,549,825 people.
It is the 39th largest country in the world by area with 676,578 square kilometers (261,228 square miles).
Naypyidaw, is the capital city of Myanmar. It first became the capital of Myanmar in 2006, after the government decided to move the capital from Yangon with minimal explanation. Much of this planned city was completed in 2012.
A land of hills and valleys rimmed in the north, east and west by mountain ranges forming a giant horseshoe. Enclosed within the mountain barriers are the flat lands of Irrawaddy, Chindwin and Sittaung River valleys where most of the country’s agricultural land and population are concentrated.
Hkakabo Razi at an elevation of 5,881 meters (19,295 feet) above sea level, is the highest point in Myanmar.
In the far south, the Mergui Archipelago contains over 800 islands, most of them completely uninhabited.
Myanmar has coastline of 1,930 kilometers (1,200 miles) along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
Myanmar is home to some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in the world. Many of Myanmar’s beaches are unspoiled and undiscovered, reminiscent of Thailand’s beaches 20-30 years ago.
With forests covering as much as 70% of Burma at the time of independence (4 January 1948), there were only slightly more than 47% forest cover left as of 2016. The deforestation rate of Myanmar has declined from 0.95% per year in the years 1990-2010 to about 0.3% per year.
Myanmar currently has 39 protected areas covering approximately 5.6% of the country’s land area.
The Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park, with an area of 1,605 square kilometers, is the largest national park in Myanmar. The park consists of the Patolon Reserved Forest and the adjoining Taungdwin Reserved Forest. The park was originally established on 21 July 1893 and was enlarged in 1917.
Bagan formerly known as ‘Pagan’ is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar (Burma). Bagan is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world with many dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar.
The Shwedagon or Greater Dragon Pagoda is considered the most sacred site in Buddhism in Myanmar because it contains a strand of Buddha’s hair and other religious relics. The 2,500-year-old pagoda is located on Singuttara Hill in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar.
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda also known as Golden Rock is a totally awesome sight: a small pagoda (7.3 meters (24 feet)) sitting atop a huge boulder that appears as if it’s about to fall off the edge of a cliff. Both are covered in golf leaf. The locals believe the boulder, which sits 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) above sea level, is held in place through a miracle of Buddha; the pagoda is said to contain a strand of his hair.
Built atop an extinct volcano plug, the Buddhist monastery of Taung Kalat is one of the most breathtaking sites in Burma. To reach the monastery, visitors must climb the 777 steps to the summit.
Vast and serene Inle Lake is one of the top tourist attractions in Myanmar. Besides its considerable natural beauty the lake also attracts tourists for the stilt houses of the Intha, the descendants of Mon people from the far southeast.
U Bein Bridge is a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura in Myanmar. The 1.2-kilometer (0.75 miles) bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.
The name “Burma” has been in use since the British colonial rule. However, in 1989, the military government changed the English version of the country’s name from “Burma” to “Myanmar”.
Burma is a resource-rich country with a strong agricultural base. It also has vast timber and fishery reserves and is a leading source of gems and jade. Tourist potential is great but remains undeveloped.
Mohinga is a rice noodle and fish soup from Myanmar and is an essential part of Myanmar’s cuisine. It is considered by many to be the national dish of Myanmar.
Chinlone is the traditional sport of Myanmar. Chinlone is a combination of sport and dance, a team sport with no opposing team. In essence chinlone is non-competitive, yet it’s as demanding as the most competitive ball games. The focus is not on winning or losing, but how beautifully one plays the game.
Myanmar is one of only three countries in the world that has not adopted the metric system of measurement. The other two holdouts are Liberia and the United States. The Common local unit of weight in Myanmar is the peiktha, which equals to 1.63 kilograms or 3.6 pounds.
The traditional Burmese dress is the longyi, a wraparound skirt worn by men and women. Men tie theirs in the front and women fold the cloth over and secure it at the side.
In Myanmar wedding days are picked by an astrologer, this should bring good luck for the couple.
Very small children wear holy thread around their neck or wrist for protection from bad spirits or spells.
Myanmar is primarily a Theravada Buddhist society, with about 89% of the population. Most Burmese are very devout, and treat monks with great respect.