Burma GeographyMyanmar Geography
Myanmar Geography - Myanmar (Burma) travelogues
Myanmar is the second biggest nation in Southeast Asia and is subdivided into four different areas by its plan. The lowland in the southern part consists of an extensive net of channels and is the place where 9 of the country's streams flow into the Bay of Bengal.
It cultivates with China in the north-east, India in the north-west and Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand. Over 50% of the land is wooded, and 9 major estuaries form in the southern part, the endpoint for a vast web of channels, which includes the Irrawaddy and Sittang Rivers.
Rangoon is the biggest town with 4.5 million inhabitants. There are two other large towns, Mandalay (the former capital) and Nay Pyi Taw, the present capitol since 2005. It has a global populace of just over 55 million.
Burma confronts its geography
Myanmar's control lies in the control of the Irrawaddy River plain, which provides abundant arable land to feed a people and gain entry to profitable trading lanes in the Indian Ocean. However, the highland around the Irrawaddy River Valley is a hedgerow in the lowlands that threatens them with an upsurge.
They are a cappuccino between the civilisation of the lowlands of Irawaddy and the neighbouring valleys of India, China and Thailand. Also these neighbours, especially China, want to use the plateau as a cushion and vie with the Irish Forest for control of the area. This is why the lowlands must either absorbe or predominate their upland border.
Myanmar's low plains form the heart of Myanmar, which concentrates on the Irrawaddy Riverside. More than half of the land is covered by the Irrawaddy National Park and its valleys, with the Irrawaddy running southwards from the Kachin state of Myanmar through the mid arid zones and then over the lush Irrawaddy Delta into the Andaman Sea.
This lowland is indispensable to the people of Myanmar and is home to most of Myanmar's economic activities, the vast majority of its people and the three most important cities: The Irrawaddy Delta and the arid zones account for most of Myanmar's farm production. This is the heart of the Bamar tribal minority, which makes up 68 per cent of the country's 60 million inhabitants and which ruled the administration and army for most of Myanmar's post-independence past.
It surrounds the Irrawaddy Valley on three sides. On the western side, the Arakan Mountain ranges from the Indian state of Manipur to Myanmar and includes the smaller Naga Hill, Chin Hill and Patkai Nag. Alongside the frontier between Sino and Myanmar in the N, the mountain ranges are divided into two camps. Hengduan Mountain - the spring of the Salween, Irrawaddy and Mekong River - is 3,000 metres high and forms the northerly part of the area.
Further southwards, these peaks drop into a plain known as the Shan Hill. It then descends along the Thai-Myanmar frontier to the southward direction and becomes the Karen and Tenasserim mounds before ending as the main mountain of the Malay Peninsula. These horseshoes from Bergen around the Irrawaddy centre are indispensable for the protection of any low land energy centre.
Often two towns divided by a river talk incomprehensible idioms. The jagged landscape makes it difficult for lowlands to penetrate the area or to build up a dominating presence among the ethnical groups living in the area. Instead, the highlands depend on small racial based states.
Even more badly, the highlands are only part of a much bigger mountain range that stretches to the northern as far as China, to the western as far as India and to the eastern as far as Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Not only does this allow Highlands rebels to escape to neighbouring territories with ease, it also keeps Myanmar open to invasions from groups abroad that are robust enough to defy the area.
Bamar themselves originated in the Irrawaddy valley from the high country and swept down from the Tibetan plateau in the Nine C. centuries. In the craggy area of the borderlands of the Uplands, a number of ethnical minorities have emerged that have not been accepted into the state. More than 30 per cent of Myanmar's total populace is made up of five large plateau areas (Karen, Shan, Karenni, Chin and Kachin) and a number of smaller groups, among them the Wa and Pa-Oh.
Traditionally, the rugged landscape of the uplands has protected the centres of government of the uplands from the dominance of the lowlands and avoided their inclusion in the people. Today, the Uplands provide protection for a number of ethnically insurgents backed by contraband operation and international support. Myanmar was united under a unique authority in only three eras of its history: the Pagan Empire (849-1297), the Taungoo Dynasty (1486-1752) and the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885).
Instead, the upland areas were easily ruled and rather run as buffers - thanks to loyalty to the Irish Plains and other mighties. They were also naturally instable and prone to disorder and possible fragility under the pressures of the upland. Myanmar's geopolitical policies have always made it hard to rule the plateau, which is the pivotal point in the administration of the area.
Britain's reign in Myanmar was marked by a heritage of largely man-made border. It also intensified the already profound racial division of the UK by centralising the UK administration into a sole force and ending the casual, arbitrary relationships of the pre-British era. The UK administration also based itself on a "divide and rule" system that favoured national minorities, which it named "martial races" and served as the spine of the Myanmar army in compensation against the Bamar people.
Myanmar's present-day reign by a army junta arose from the inherent dynamics of the highlands and the conditions of its autonomy. Burma (then known as Burma) became an autonomous state in 1948. While Burma and Myanmar have the same ecology, Burma tends to sound more like "Bamar", the dominating ethnic group.
After Japan's failure and long autonomy talks, Myanmar became a multi-ethnic parliamentarian democratic nation with a wide presence of majorities. It was a model for the New Independents, with Myanmar's U Thant as UN Secretary-General and Sao Shwe Thaik, an indigenous Shan tribe, as Myanmar's first ever US Presidents.
However, the split parliament arian goverment and the fragile army could not stop the country from splintering. People of Bamar, who had power over the Irrawaddy, were naturally two-way. The three political groups have turned from power to rebels in the Irrawaddy lowlands: the White Flag Commissists, the Red Flag Commissists and the Red Flag Red Flag Red Army and the Burmese Army Revolutionaries.
At the same time, the Karen people, led by the Karen National Union, raided Mandalay and besieged the Yangon-Town Insein. After the then capitol Yangon (now known as Yangon), to which the federation was limited, the state' s rebellion became known as the Yangon state.
In the following ten years of struggle, the army became the most efficient body in the country. Then in 1958, Premier U Nu called on the army chiefs of general Staff to become incumbent premier, and after a brief reappearance in civil government, Ne Win disbanded the Bundestag in 1962.
Myanmar began to manage its domestic conflict under the control of the war. Ne-Win appointed a strongly centralised administration with powerful state plans and an important part for the army. In essence, Myanmar became a besieging state, redirecting assets to assist its army and isolating itself from the global fellowship to prevent external interference.
This tactic gradually resulted in uprisings in the frontier areas and from the Irrawaddy River Valley. The Chin and Rakhine were backed by India, the Wa, Kachin and Shan of China and the Karen and Karenni of Thailand.
However, the junta's reign also warranted abuses of force, corrupt practices and the confiscation of public and civil assets. In the mid 1980s, Myanmar's economies were stagnant due to insulation and maladministration. In the 1990s, the army tried to open up financially while tightly controlling the Irrawaddy, but the pressures of West sanctioning made this not possible and led to continuing depression.
There was only one choice for the military: to act in its effective capacity against the uprisings and to revert to the strategies of the nineteen-forties and fifties. The 2010 relinquishment of sovereignty by the Burmese army to a civil regime, albeit with a powerful part to play in the war. Myanmar's central geo-political rift continues to be the main preoccupation of any force trying to rule the state.
Naypyidaw is now in the grip of a civil regime, but the pressures of geo-politics and the ubiquitous need to impose centralised power are still there.