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Countries of the World: Burma
Resources about Burma including maps, facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, and economy.

Economy of Burma GDP: $27.55 billion (2009 estimate). Annual growth rate: 5.3% (2010 estimate). The Burmese Government’s economic growth statistics are not released regularly and lack credibility. GDP per capita: $469 (2010 estimate). Inflation rate: 10% (2010 Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) estimate). Natural resources: natural gas, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, limestone, precious stones, hydropower, marine products, and petroleum. Agriculture: Products--rice, pulses, beans, sesame, peanuts, sugarcane, hardwood. Industries: Types--natural gas, agricultural processing, knit and woven apparel, wood and wood products, cement, paper, cotton, cotton yarn, sugar, mining, construction materials, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizer. Recorded trade (based on 2008 statistics from Business Information Group): Exports--$6.6 billion. Types--natural gas 38%, agricultural products 18%, precious and semi- precious stones 11%, timber and forest products 8%, and marine products 5%. Major markets--Thailand 40%, Hong Kong 11%, India 11%, Singapore 13%, China 7.5%, and Malaysia 5%. Imports--$3.4 billion. Types--lubricant oil and diesel 16.9%, textiles and fabrics 8.6%, machinery parts 8.7%, and steel, iron, and bars 5.8%. Major suppliers--Singapore 30%, China 18%, Bahamas 13% Thailand 6%, and Japan 5%. U.S. economic sanctions prohibit the import of Burmese-origin goods into the U.S. and while U.S. exports to Burma (other than financial services) are permitted, very little trade flows in that direction.

Geography of Burma Area: 678,500 sq. km. (slightly smaller than Texas). Cities: Administrative capital--Nay Pyi Taw, near the township of Pyinmana (pop. 200,000). Other cities--Rangoon (pop. 5.5 million), Mandalay (pop. 1.2 million). Terrain: Central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands. Climate: Tropical monsoon; cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers (southwest monsoon, June to September); less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter (December to April). Some areas of central Burma are subject to prolonged drought conditions.

Government of Burma Type: Military regime. Constitution: January 3, 1974; suspended since September 18, 1988, when the current military government (called the State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC) took power. Burmese authorities reported that a new constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a May 2008 referendum; however, international observers and democratic groups in Burma have deemed both the drafting process and the referendum to be deeply flawed. The constitution is scheduled to take effect when a new parliament convenes following elections planned for an as-yet unspecified date in 2010. Branches: Executive--Chairman of the SPDC Senior General Than Shwe is the head of state. Prime Minister Thein Sein is the head of government. Legislative--There is no legislative branch in Burma under the current military government. Parliamentarians elected in the 1990 election have never been permitted to take their seats. Judicial--The legal system is based on a British-era system, but the military regime often rules by decree and there is no guarantee of a fair public trial; the judiciary is not independent. Political parties/socio-political organizations: In March 2010, the government released a series of much-criticized election and party registration laws in preparation for planned elections. As of July 2010, approximately 38 new parties were approved for registration under those laws. Previously, there were only 10 legally registered political parties in Burma; 5 have chosen to re-register. Unregistered political parties are illegal. The National League for Democracy (NLD), the primary opposition party, announced it would not re-register under the flawed electoral laws; it is no longer recognized by the government as a political party. Several former NLD party elders subsequently formed the National Democratic Force (NDF). Several other new national democracy-oriented parties have been formed. The National Unity Party (NUP) and the Union Solidarity and Development Party (an offshoot of the regime-supported, 25-million- member socio-political organization Union Solidarity and Development Association), are the two primary parties supportive of government policies. In addition, several ceasefire groups representing Burma’s ethnic minority groups have formed political parties and/or maintain political organizations. Administrative subdivisions: The country is divided into seven divisions (tain)--Irrawaddy, Bago (Pegu), Magway, Mandalay, Yangon (Rangoon), Sagaing, and Tanintharyi (Tenassarim); and seven ethnic states (pyi nay)--Chin State, Kachin State, Kayin (Karen) State, Kayah (Karenni) State, Mon State, Rakhine (Arakan) State, and Shan State. Suffrage: Universal suffrage at 18 years of age.

Map of Burma This Map of Burma shows the borders of the country, as well as rivers, and cities including Rangoon the capital of Burma. (Maps from the U.S. State Department)

Official Name of Burma The Official Name of Burma is the Union of Burma. (Facts from the U.S. State Department)

People of Burma Nationality: Noun and adjective--Burmese. Population: 53.4 million (CIA World Factbook, 2010); no official census has been taken since 1983. Annual population growth rate (2005 UN Development Program (UNDP) estimate)*: 0.8%. Ethnic groups: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Mon 2%, Indian 2%, other 5%. Religions: Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%. Languages: Burmese, minority ethnic languages. Education: Literacy--adult, 89.9%; male, 93.9%; female, 86.4% (UNDP 2007 estimate)*. Health: Infant mortality rate--74 deaths/1,000 live births (UNICEF 2007 estimate). Life expectancy--61.2 yrs.: male, 59.0 yrs.; female 63.4 yrs. (2007 UNDP estimate)*. *The Burmese Government reviews UNDP figures prior to release.

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