Country Information Database


Burma Country Information

Flag of Burma
Map of Burma
Introduction Burma
Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; independence from the Commonwealth was attained in 1948. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. Despite multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory, the ruling junta refused to hand over power. NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, was imprisoned in May 2003 and subsequently transferred to house arrest. After Burma's ruling junta in August 2007 unexpectedly increased fuel prices, tens of thousands of Burmese marched in protest, led by prodemocracy activists and Buddhist monks. In late September 2007, the government brutally suppressed the protests, killing at least 13 people and arresting thousands for participating in the demonstrations. Since then, the regime has continued to raid homes and monasteries and arrest persons suspected of participating in the pro-democracy protests. The junta appointed Labor Minister AUNG KYI in October 2007 as liaison to AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who remains under house arrest and virtually incommunicado with her party and supporters.
Geography Burma
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the 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:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
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, marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 14.92%
permanent crops: 1.31%
other: 83.77% (2005)
Irrigated land:
18,700 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
1,045.6 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 33.23 cu km/yr (1%/1%/98%)
per capita: 658 cu m/yr (2000)
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes
People Burma
note: estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 25.7% (male 6,236,484/female 6,038,576)
15-64 years: 68.9% (male 16,300,380/female 16,627,045)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,098,344/female 1,457,352) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 27.8 years
male: 27.2 years
female: 28.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.8% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
17.23 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
9.23 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 49.12 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 55.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 42.33 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 62.94 years
male: 60.73 years
female: 65.28 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.92 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
330,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
20,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
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
total population: 89.9%
male: 93.9%
female: 86.4% (2006 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 8 years
male: 8 years
female: 8 years (2001)
Education expenditures:
1.2% of GDP (2001)
Government Burma
Country name:
conventional long form: Union of Burma
conventional short form: Burma
local long form: Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw (translated by the US Government as Union of Myanma and by the Burmese as Union of Myanmar)
local short form: Myanma Naingngandaw
former: Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma
note: since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw
Government type:
military junta
name: Rangoon (Yangon)
geographic coordinates: 16 48 N, 96 09 E
time difference: UTC+6.5 (11.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Nay Pyi Taw is administrative capital
Administrative divisions:
7 divisions (taing-myar, singular - taing) and 7 states (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne)
divisions: Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Yangon
states: Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan
4 January 1948 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 January (1948); Union Day, 12 February (1947)
30 May 2008
Legal system:
based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Sr. Gen. THAN SHWE (since 23 April 1992)
head of government: Prime Minister, Lt. Gen THEIN SEIN (since 24 October 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet is overseen by SPDC; military junta assumed power 18 September 1988 under name State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)
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 allowed by junta to convene (junta has anounced plans to hold elections in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NLD 392 (opposition), SNLD 23 (opposition), NUP 10 (pro-government), other 60
Judicial branch:
remnants of the British-era legal system are in place, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial; the judiciary is not independent of the executive
Political parties and leaders:
National League for Democracy or NLD [AUNG SHWE, AUNG SAN SUU KYI]; National Unity Party or NUP (pro-regime) [TUN YE]; Shan Nationalities League for Democracy or SNLD [HKUN HTUN OO]; and other smaller parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Ethnic Nationalities Council or ENC (based in Thailand); Federation of Trade Unions-Burma or FTUB (exile trade union and labor advocates); National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma or NCGUB (self-proclaimed government in exile) ["Prime Minister" Dr. SEIN WIN] consists of individuals, some legitimately elected to the People's Assembly in 1990 (the group fled to a border area and joined insurgents in December 1990 to form parallel government in exile); Kachin Independence Organization or KIO; Karen National Union or KNU; Karenni National People's Party or KNPP; National Council-Union of Burma or NCUB (exile coalition of opposition groups); United Wa State Army or UWSA; Union Solidarity and Development Association or USDA (pro-regime, a social and political mass-member organization) [HTAY OO, general secretary]; 88 Generation Students (pro-democracy movement) [MIN KO NAING]
other: several Shan factions
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires MYINT LWIN
chancery: 2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-3344
FAX: [1] (202) 332-4351
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Larry M. DINGER
embassy: 110 University Avenue, Kamayut Township, Rangoon
mailing address: Box B, APO AP 96546
telephone: [95] (1) 556-509, 535-756
FAX: [95] (1) 650-306
Flag description:
red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 14, white, five-pointed stars encircling a cogwheel containing a stalk of rice; the 14 stars represent the seven administrative divisions and seven states
Economy Burma
Economy - overview:
Burma, a resource-rich country, suffers from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic policies, and rural poverty. The junta took steps in the early 1990s to liberalize the economy after decades of failure under the "Burmese Way to Socialism," but those efforts stalled, and some of the liberalization measures were rescinded. Despite Burma's increasing oil and gas revenue, socio-economic conditions have deteriorated due to the regime's mismanagement of the economy. Lacking monetary or fiscal stability, the economy suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including rising inflation, fiscal deficits, multiple official exchange rates that overvalue the Burmese kyat, a distorted interest rate regime, unreliable statistics, and an inability to reconcile national accounts to determine a realistic GDP figure. Most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta began to suppress the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently refused to honor the results of the 1990 legislative elections. In response to the government of Burma's attack in May 2003 on AUNG SAN SUU KYI and her convoy, the US imposed new economic sanctions in August 2003 including a ban on imports of Burmese products and a ban on provision of financial services by US persons. Further, a poor investment climate hampers attracting outside investment slowing the inflow of foreign exchange. The most productive sectors will continue to be in extractive industries, especially oil and gas, mining, and timber with the latter especially causing environmental degradation. Other areas, such as manufacturing and services, are struggling with inadequate infrastructure, unpredictable import/export policies, deteriorating health and education systems, and endemic corruption. A major banking crisis in 2003 shuttered the country's 20 private banks and disrupted the economy. As of 2007, the largest private banks operated under tight restrictions limiting the private sector's access to formal credit. Moreover, the September 2007 crackdown on prodemocracy demonstrators, including thousands of monks, further strained the economy as the tourism industry, which directly employs about 500,000 people, suffered dramatic declines in foreign visitor levels. In November 2007, the European Union announced new sanctions banning investment and trade in Burmese gems, timber and precious stones, while the United States expanded its sanctions list to include more Burmese government and military officials and their family members, as well as prominent regime business cronies, their family members, and associated companies. Official statistics are inaccurate. Published statistics on foreign trade are greatly understated because of the size of the black market and unofficial border trade - often estimated to be as large as the official economy. Though the Burmese government has good economic relations with its neighbors, better investment and business climates and an improved political situation are needed to promote serious foreign investment, exports, and tourism.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$91.13 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$13.53 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.8% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,900 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 42.4%
industry: 18.9%
services: 38.7% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
29.26 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 70%
industry: 7%
services: 23% (2001)
Unemployment rate:
5.2% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line:
32.7% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
35% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
13.1% of GDP (2007 est.)
revenues: NA
expenditures: NA (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products
agricultural processing; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; cement, construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer; natural gas; garments, jade and gems
Industrial production growth rate:
9% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production:
6.154 billion kWh (FY06)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 44.5%
hydro: 43.4%
nuclear: 0%
other: 12.1% (2002)
Electricity - consumption:
3.744 billion kWh (FY06)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
18,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption:
20,460 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports:
5,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - imports:
19,180 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
1.963 billion bbl (2007 est.)
Natural gas - production:
12.47 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - consumption:
3.971 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - exports:
8.497 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
271.6 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
$1.427 billion (2007 est.)
$6.122 billion f.o.b.
note: official export figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of timber, gems, narcotics, rice, and other products smuggled to Thailand, China, and Bangladesh (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
natural gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice, clothing, jade and gems
Exports - partners:
Thailand 44%, India 14.4%, China 7%, Japan 5.6% (2007)
$2.942 billion f.o.b.
note: import figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of consumer goods, diesel fuel, and other products smuggled in from Thailand, China, Malaysia, and India (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fabric, petroleum products, fertilizer, plastics, machinery, transport equipment; cement, construction materials, crude oil; food products, edible oil
Imports - partners:
China 35.9%, Thailand 20.4%, Singapore 16.5%, Malaysia 4.5% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
$144.7 million (2005 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$2.262 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external:
$7.022 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Currency (code):
kyat (MMK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
kyats per US dollar - 1,296 (2007), 1,280 (2006), 5.761 (2005), 5.7459 (2004), 6.0764 (2003)
note: unofficial exchange rates ranged in 2004 from 815 kyat/US dollar to nearly 970 kyat/US dollar, and by yearend 2005, the unofficial exchange rate was 1,075 kyat/US dollar; data shown for 2003-05 are official exchange rates
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Burma
Telephones - main lines in use:
503,900 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
214,200 (2006)
Telephone system:
general assessment: meets minimum requirements for local and intercity service for business and government
domestic: system barely capable of providing basic service; cellular phone system is grossly underdeveloped with a subscribership base of less than 1 per 100 persons
international: country code - 95; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2, Intelsat (Indian Ocean), and ShinSat (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 3 (2007)
4.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
4 (2008)
320,000 (2000)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
101 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
note: as of September 2000, Internet connections were legal only for the government, tourist offices, and a few large businesses (2000)
Internet users:
40,000 (2007)
Transportation Burma
86 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 25
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 61
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 32 (2007)
4 (2007)
gas 2,790 km; oil 558 km (2007)
total: 3,955 km
narrow gauge: 3,955 km 1.000-m gauge (2006)
total: 27,000 km
paved: 3,200 km
unpaved: 23,800 km (2005)
12,800 km (2007)
Merchant marine:
total: 27 ships (1000 GRT or over) 170,403 GRT/211,739 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 19, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 3, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 3 (Germany 2, Japan 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Moulmein, Rangoon, Sittwe
Military Burma
Military branches:
Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw): Army, Navy, Air Force (Tatmadaw Lay) (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service for both sexes; forced conscription of children, although officially prohibited, reportedly continues (2007)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 13,402,788
females age 16-49: 13,437,042 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 9,031,046
females age 16-49: 9,396,547 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 423,809
female: 415,843 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
2.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Burma
Disputes - international:
over half of Burma's population consists of diverse ethnic groups who have substantial numbers of kin in neighboring countries; Thailand must deal with Karen and other ethnic refugees, asylum seekers, and rebels, as well as illegal cross-border activities from Burma; Thailand is studying the feasibility of jointly constructing the Hatgyi Dam on the Salween River near the border with Burma; citing environmental, cultural, and social concerns, China is reconsidering construction of 13 dams on the Salween River but energy-starved Burma with backing from Thailand remains intent on building five hydro-electric dams downstream, despite identical regional and international protests; India seeks cooperation from Burma to keep Indian Nagaland separatists, such as the United Liberation Front of Assam, from hiding in remote Burmese Uplands; after 21 years, Bangladesh resumes talks with Burma on delimiting a maritime boundary in January 2008
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
IDPs: 503,000 (government offensives against ethnic insurgent groups near the eastern borders; most IDPs are ethnic Karen, Karenni, Shan, Tavoyan, and Mon) (2007)
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Burma is a source country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; Burmese women and children are trafficked to East and Southeast Asia for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor; Burmese children are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Thailand as hawkers, beggars, and for work in shops, agriculture, fish processing, and small-scale industries; women are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Malaysia and China; some trafficking victims transit Burma from Bangladesh to Malaysia and from China to Thailand; internal trafficking occurs primarily from villages to urban centers and economic hubs for labor in industrial zones, agricultural estates, and commercial sexual exploitation; military and civilian officials continue to use a significant amount of forced labor; ethnic insurgent groups also used compulsory labor of adults and unlawful recruitment of children; the military junta's gross economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and its policy of using forced labor are the top causal factors for Burma's significant trafficking problem
tier rating: Tier 3 - Burma does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; military and civilian officials remain directly involved in significant acts of forced labor and unlawful conscription of child soldiers (2008)
Illicit drugs:
remains world's second largest producer of illicit opium with an estimated production in 2005 of 380 metric tons, up 13% from 2004 and cultivation in 2005 was 40,000 hectares, a 10% increase from 2004; the decline in opium production in the United Wa State Army's areas of greatest control was more than offset by increases in south and east Shan state; lack of government will to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort; major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption; currently under Financial Action Task Force countermeasures due to continued failure to address its inadequate money-laundering controls (2005)

This page was last updated on 2 October, 2008 Access Time: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 04:06:18 -0500