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Snapshot: Myanmar (by Kawaiiflowergirl )

Also known as Burma, Myanmar is a relatively unknown country in southeast Asia, bordering Laos, Thailand, China, Bangladesh and India.
It officially has around 52,89 million citizens, but the number is most likely a lot higher.
The country's capital is the city Nay Piy Daw. It has only been the capital since 2005 - before that it was Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. Nay Piy Daw is mainly a government city, not many regular people live there.

The country is split into 7 states and 7 regions with the capital as a separate, extra region, making it 15 in total. The regions are mainly around bigger cities, while the states are based on ethic groups.
Myanmar has 135 recognised ethnic groups, of which the largest and historically most powerful one is the Burma, or Bamar, group. The seven other big ethnic groups are those that have a state named after it: Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Kayah, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. These ethnic groups are the majority in their state, but each state has people from many ethic groups. Each ethnic group has its own language and cultural traditions.

People from the Bamar ethnicity has held the power in the country for a long while, and that is visible. Burmese, the language of the Bamar ethnic group, is the official language of the country and therefore, everyone has to learn it. And, for a long while, only Bamar people were allowed to join the military.

Generally speaking, the 134 other ethnic groups are often underrepresented or excluded, especially in the political process. It is even worse if you are from a non-recognised ethnic group. Without belonging to a recognised group, it can be difficult to impossible to obtain citizenship, and without that, your rights are seriously limited. You can't vote, go to public school or hold a civil service job.

Myanmar has since 1997 been a member of the ASEAN organisation, which is an organisation similar to the EU, just for Asian countries. Despite being one of the poorest countries in Asia, it is very rich in natural resources such as rubies, jade, gold and pearls. 60% of the country's area is agriculture. The country is the second largest opium producer in the world.

It is easy to see Myanmar is a very religious country. The cities are filled with pagodas and temples, and the golden spires are everywhere. Walking around even in a tiny town, you will find multiple places of worship, often for a variety of faiths.
The majority of the population (89,2%) are Buddhists, and the majority of those are Theravada Buddhists. 5% of the population is Christian (mainly protestants), 3,8% Muslims and 1,2% are spiritualists. The ethnic group has a lot to say about religion - for example, certain ethnic groups are mainly Christian, or mainly Muslims. Historically, a lot of people were spiritualists and believed in animal spirits, but there are relatively few of those left.

In 1886, the kingdom of Myanmar was colonized by the British. Then, in 1942, the Japanese invaded on request of some influential Burmese people fighting for independence from the Brits. However, the Japanese turned out to be a lot worse than the former colonists, so the British were invited back to help against the Japanese. Burma, as it was called then - it didn't change name to Myanmar until 1989 - was again a British colony until they got independence in 1948.
From here on, the country had a lot of political activity and something resembling democracy, until there was a military coup in 1962 and the prime minister who had been elected two years prior - defeating the military - was ousted.
The military government that followed was very violent. This led to a lot of protests, most notoriously the student uprising in 1988. An enormous group of students protested against the military's violence, and thousands of people were killed by the military in these protests. The leaders of the protests were all jailed or killed.
The general mood was very much against the government, so in 1990 they announced an election. The military suffered a crushing defeat to the opposing party National League for Democracy (NLD), which got more than 80% of the votes, but the results were ignored by the military and the leader of NLD was exiled.
In the early 2000's, the country tried to globalise by becoming a part of the ASEAN. They also created a constitution in 2008, though far from everyone were happy with it.
In 2010, there was a new government election - only because there had been pressure on the military from outside sources. Even though the military had officially given up their power, they were still in charge through a party consisting of retired military personnel, known as Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). This resulted in the military government basically continuing as a civilian government. The NLD hadn't 'signed up' for this election as they believed the result would be ignored like it was in 1990, so there was no real opposition against the military party. The Burmese government runs in terms of 5 years, and in the election in 2015, the NLD participated again and won. It was only in this election that everyone was finally allowed to vote as there had been a lot of restrictions in the previous one. In the 2010 election, it is widely believed that the results weren't completely correct due to tampering with the votes and the low amount of people allowed to participate.

Because of the constitution made by the military government in 2008, the military always has 25% of seats in the government and they are in charge of three very important departments: Home Affairs, Defense, and Border Affairs.
The current struggle is to get true democracy and especially trying to amend the constitution, thereby lessening the military's power. This, however, is hard as they with their 25% of seats - in addition to those held by members of the USDP with similar views - can block many of the laws.
There are currently campaigns against corruption in Myanmar, and while the corruption may have become less obvious, it is very much still happening. There is also still not complete freedom of speech: for example, you can be arrested for speaking out against the military.

The current president of the country is called Win Myint, and the state councillor is Aung San Suu Kyi. She is probably one of the most famous Burmese persons, as she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her fight against the military government and work towards peace, a lot of it happening while she was under house arrest for 15 years. She is now the leader of the NLD party and a bit of a national hero, though some people think she is currently not doing enough for the ethnic groups.
If you are interested in her life or the situation in Myanmar in the 1980ies and 90ies, the movie "The Lady" is definitely recommended.

Myanmar has one of the longest ongoing civil wars in the world, currently on its 71st year. The problems are mainly along the borders, and between ethnic groups or ethnic groups and the military. The government is trying to get everyone to agree to a ceasefire, but they haven't succeeded yet.
Most recently, Myanmar has been in the spotlight because of the "Rohingya Crisis", where the military has committed atrocities akin to ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya ethnic group, a group not recognised as one of the 135 official ethnic groups in the country. Many Rohingya people have fled to neighbouring country Bangladesh. The military denies the events, and there is also a general dislike of Rohingyas in the population of Myanmar, as they have been branded as illegal immigrants, criminals, and terrorists.
While the conflict with the Rohingyas in Rakhine state has gained the most publicity, there are multiple other parts of Myanmar it is strongly advised against visiting if you're a tourist, and it is not safe even if you are a native.

However, Myanmar is a beautiful country with friendly people, but, despite having many interesting attractions, the country is far from touristy.

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Private wrote on 13-12 06:41:
Rochellette wrote:
Interesting reading and love the pictures and the layout
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MeNoS wrote on 11-12 20:15:
MeNoS wrote:
my cousin's girlfriend just moved to myanmar and she was down visiting her, and ever since she told me stories ive been so fascinated and im so excited to read this!
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Alam wrote on 11-12 20:04:
Alam wrote:
This was a very interesting read, thank you Cimorene
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SarKastic wrote on 11-12 17:57:
SarKastic wrote:
Hey you! Read this! :)

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