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Introduction Burma
Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. Burma previously administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; independence outside of Commonwealth previously attained in 1948. Gen. NE WIN dominated government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as president, and later as political kingmaker. Despite multiparty elections in 1990 that resulted in main opposition party winning a decisive victory, ruling military junta refused to hand over power. Key opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, previously again placed under house detention from September 2000 to May 2002 and again in May 2003; her supporters are routinely harassed or jailed.
Geography Burma
Southeastern Asia, bordering Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand
Geographic coordinates:
22 00 N, 98 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
total: 678,500 sq km
land: 657,740 sq km
water: 20,760 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 5,876 km
border countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, Thailand 1,800 km
1,930 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to edge of continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical monsoon; cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers (southwest monsoon, June to September); less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter (northeast monsoon, December to April)
central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Andaman Sea 0 m
highest point: Hkakabo Razi 5,881 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 14.53%
permanent crops: 0.9%
other: 84.57% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
15,920 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; industrial pollution of air, soil, and water; inadequate sanitation and water treatment contribute to disease
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes
People Burma
Total Population:
note: estimates for this country take into account effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.1% (male 6,091,220; female 5,840,968)
15-64 years: 67% (male 14,162,190; female 14,347,751)
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 916,702; female 1,151,706) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 25.3 years
male: 24.8 years
female: 25.9 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
0.52% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
19.15 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
12.17 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
Population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 70.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 63.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 76.48 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 55.79 years
male: 54.12 years
female: 57.56 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.15 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.99% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
530,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
65,000 (2001 est.)
noun: Burmese (singular and plural)
adjective: Burmese
Ethnic groups:
Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Population: 83.1%
male: 88.7%
female: 77.7% (1995 est.)
note: these are official statistics; estimates of functional literacy are likely closer to 30% (1999 est.)
Government Burma
Country name:
conventional long form: Union of Burma
conventional short form: Burma
local short form: Myanma Naingngandaw
local long form: Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw (translated by US Government as Union of Myanma and by Burmese as Union of Myanmar)
former: Socialist Republic of Union of Burma
note: since 1989 military authorities in Burma have promoted name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision previously not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and US Government did not adopt name, which is a derivative of Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw
Government type:
military regime
Rangoon (regime refers to capital as Yangon)
Administrative divisions:
7 divisions* (taing-myar, singular - taing) and 7 states (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne); Chin State, Ayeyarwady*, Bago*, Kachin State, Kayin State, Kayah State, Magway*, Mandalay*, Mon State, Rakhine State, Sagaing*, Shan State, Tanintharyi*, Yangon*
4 January 1948 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 January (1948)
3 January 1974 (suspended since 18 September 1988); national convention started on 9 January 1993 to draft a new constitution; progress has since been stalled
Legal system:
has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Chairman of State Peace and Development Council Sr. Gen. THAN SHWE (since 23 April 1992)
head of government: Chairman of State Peace and Development Council Sr. Gen. THAN SHWE (since 23 April 1992); note - appointed Prime Minister, Gen. KNIN NYUNT (since 25 August 2003), is not head of government
cabinet: State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); military junta, so named 15 November 1997, which initially assumed power 18 September 1988 under name State Law and Order Restoration Council; SPDC oversees cabinet
elections: none
Legislative branch:
unicameral People's Assembly or Pyithu Hluttaw (485 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 27 May 1990, but Assembly never convened
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NLD 392, SNLD 23, NUP 10, other 60
Judicial branch:
remnants of British-era legal system are in place, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial; judiciary is not independent of executive
Political parties and leaders:
National League for Democracy or NLD [AUNG SHWE, chairman, AUNG SAN SUU KYI, general secretary]; National Unity Party or NUP (proregime) [THA KYAW]; Shan Nationalities League for Democracy or SNLD [KHUN TUN OO]; Union Solidarity and Development Association or USDA (proregime, a social and political organization) [THAN AUNG, general secretary]; and other smaller parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
All Burma Student Democratic Front or ABSDF; Kachin Independence Army or KIA; Karen National Union or KNU; National Coalition Government of Union of Burma or NCGUB [Dr. SEIN WIN] consists of individuals legitimately elected to People's Assembly but not recognized by military regime (the group fled to a border area and joined with insurgents in December 1990 to form a parallel government); several Shan factions; United Wa State Army or UWSA
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador LINN MYAING
consulate(s) general: New York
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9046
telephone: [1] (202) 332-9044
chancery: 2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from US:
chief of mission: Permanent Charge d'Affaires Carmen M. MARTINEZ
embassy: 581 Merchant Street, Rangoon (GPO 521)
mailing address: Box B, APO AP 96546
telephone: [95] (1) 379 880, 379 881
FAX: [95] (1) 256 018
Flag description:
red with a blue rectangle in upper hoist-side corner bearing, all in white, 14 five-pointed stars encircling a cogwheel containing a stalk of rice; 14 stars represent 14 administrative divisions
Economy Burma
Economy - overview:
Burma is a resource-rich country that suffers from abject rural poverty. military regime took steps in early 1990s to liberalize economy after decades of failure under "Burmese Way to Socialism", but those efforts have since stalled. Burma has been unable to achieve monetary or fiscal stability, resulting in an economy that suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - includes a steep inflation rate and an official exchange rate that overvalues Burmese kyat by more than 100 times market rate. In addition, most overseas development assistance ceased after junta suppressed democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently ignored results of 1990 election. Burma is data poor, and official statistics are often dated and inaccurate. Published estimates of Burma's foreign trade are greatly understated because of size of black market and border trade - often estimated to be one to two times official economy.
buying power parity - $73.69 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5.3% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $1,700 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 60%
industry: 9%
services: 31% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
25% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
53.7% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
23.7 million (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 70%, industry 7%, services 23% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
5.1% (2001 est.)
revenues: $7.9 billion
expenditures: $12.2 billion, includes capital expenditures of $5.7 billion (FY96/97)
agricultural processing; knit and woven apparel; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
6.139 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 44.4%
hydro: 55.6%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
5.709 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
14,170 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
38,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
142.5 million bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
7.35 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
2.15 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
5.2 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
314.4 billion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products
$2.7 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Exports - commodities:
gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice
Exports - partners:
Thailand 31.4%, US 13%, India 7.4%, China 4.7% (2002)
$2.5 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, crude oil; food products
Imports - partners:
China 27%, Singapore 19.5%, Thailand 12%, Malaysia 9.1%, Taiwan 6.3%, South Korea 5.3%, Japan 4.3% (2002)
Debt - external:
$6.1 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$99 million (FY98/99)
kyat (MMK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
kyats per US dollar - 6.64 (2002), 6.75 (2001), 6.52 (2000), 6.29 (1999), 6.34 (1998)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Burma
Telephones - main lines in use:
250,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
8,492 (1997)
Telephone system:
general assessment: meets minimum requirements for local and intercity service for business and government; international service is good
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 3, shortwave 3 (1998)
4.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (1998)
320,000 (2000)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
note: as of September 2000, Internet connections were legal only for government, tourist offices, and a few large businesses (2000)
Internet users:
10,000 (2002)
Transportation Burma
total: 3,955 km
narrow gauge: 3,955 km 1.000-m gauge (2002)
total: 28,200 km
paved: 3,440 km
unpaved: 24,760 km (1996 est.)
12,800 km
note: 3,200 km navigable by large commercial vessels
gas 2,056 km; oil 558 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Bassein, Bhamo, Chauk, Mandalay, Moulmein, Myitkyina, Rangoon, Akyab (Sittwe), Tavoy
Merchant marine:
total: 33 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 352,765 GRT/536,396 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 5, Japan 4 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 7, cargo 21, container 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 1
80 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 8
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 72
under 914 m: 34 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 20
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
1 (2002)
Military Burma
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 12,349,921
note: both sexes liable for military service (2003 est.)
females age 15-49: 12,358,507
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 6,566,122
females age 15-49: 6,553,458 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 453,420
females: 455,422 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$39 million (FY97)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.1% (FY97)
Transnational Issues Burma
Disputes - international:
despite continuing border committee talks, significant differences remain with Thailand over boundary alignment and handling of ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities
Illicit drugs:
world's second largest producer of illicit opium (potential production in 2002 - 630 metric tons, down 27% due to drought and, to a lesser extent, eradication; cultivation in 2002 - 77,000 hectares, a 27% decline from 2001); surrender of drug warlord KHUN SA's Mong Tai Army in January 1996 previously hailed by Rangoon as a major counternarcotics success, but lack of government will and ability to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder overall antidrug effort; major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption