Myanmar History factsBurma History Facts
Myanmar facts and story in brief
In 1989, the reigning army regime renamed Burma the Union of Myanmar and the main and biggest town of Rangoon, Yangon, which was recognized by the UN but not by all of them. Situated in South East Asia, bordering China, Laos, Thailand, the Andaman Sea, the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh and India.
A few large hills and the Irrawaddy Fluvial are the major characteristics of Burma. Since 1988 it has been governed by the army. Burma's story began in the ninth centuries, when the Myamma or Bamar tribe moved from the China-Tibet frontier area to the Irrawaddy Canyon. Soon the Burmese convert to Buddhism and found the state that became the First Burmese Empire in 1057.
Both of the well-known families led to the name Myanmar (in Burmese) and Burma (in English). Burma set off for several states after the disastrous incursion of the Mongolian Kublai Khan military in 1287. Since then, the Irrawaddy Valley's residents have tried to re-establish domination over neighboring mountain tribes such as the Shan and the Karen, but these tribes have generally retained de facto autonomy.
Portugueses arrived in Burma in the latter part of the fifteenth-century and erected trade post, but their efforts to expand their controls were rejected. It was this foreign menace that led the people of Burma to build a more powerful state, and in 1613 King Aukhpetlan decided to defeat the Portugese attempt to take over Burma. In the eighteenth-century conflict began along Burma's borders with British India, and the British emerged as a far greater menace than the other major power in Europe.
Burma's First Burma War (1824-26) ended with Burma relinquishing its territories to the Brits, and the Second Burma War (1852) led to the annexation of Sub-Burma (in the south) and its transformation into a provincial area of Britanindi. In 1853-78 King Mindon of Upper Burma (ruled) tried to modernize the state and the business community of Burma to better defend itself against Britain's attacks, and he defended the north capitol of Mandalay.
However, in 1886 his second Thibaw could not stop the Third Burma War, which led to the annexation of the whole land and the abolishment of the Myanmar kings. Myanmar profited financially from Britain's domination, but Burma's nationality remains strong. By 1935, the Brits had parted Burma from India and pledged to introduce self-government.
However, at the beginning of 1942, the Japanese entered the land and quickly expelled the Brits. Myanmar nationals, headed by Aung San, initially embraced the United Kingdom's failure, but soon realized that the Japanese had no desire to allow Burma's nationalism. Then Aung San contacted the Brits and handed over the assistance of his 10,000-strong Armed Forces to the Allied side in return for a pledge of immediate postwar autonomy.
Burma became self-sufficient in 1947, after a meeting in London. Non-Burma minority efforts to separate from the Myanmar state were blocked, but the Myanmar authorities had no more scrutiny of the hills than the British. Aung San was overwhelmingly brought back by the April 1947 domestic poll.
However, during the drafting of the new Constitution, Aung San was murdered by a police-force. Burma enjoys a peaceful and democratically governed era under his rule, but was replaced by General Ne Win in 1958. After the 1962 U Nu election gave the country a major vote, Ne Win carried out a military coup and ended Burma's democrica.
Burma became an insulated army ruling under Ne Win, with the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSSP) imposing a strange form of welfareism that soon plunged a wealthy nation into impoverishment. They waged never-ending vain battles against the Karens and Shans, against the Myanmar Communists and later against drugs lords like Khun Sa.
Ne Win proclaimed the Socialist Republic of Burma in 1974 with a façade of grass-roots governance to obscure the realities of Burma's army governors. The rally against the Iranian dictatorship erupted in 1988 and several hundred, possibly even thousand, lives were lost. War withdrew Ne Win from office and pledged free election.
The exiled Aung San Suu Kyi, Aung San's sister, founded the National League for Democracy (NLD). Following further unrest, the promising election was conducted in 1990, with the army apparently thinking it could manipulate the results in favor of the National Unity Party, the old SSP. Following a time of undecided decision, the army carried out a second putsch.
The NLD was outlawed and a committee known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council took over under the leadership of General Than Shwe. Since then, the Burmese army has been in control. Aung San Suu Kyi received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and was freed from home detention in 1995 under intense political and social pressures.
Thanks to powerful Chinese financial and civilian assistance, undercover assistance from Thailand and other ASEAN countries, and revenues from the trafficking of narcotics and precious wood sources, the government has managed to survive. However, the government has held on to its position of authority and in 2002 initiated a new crack-down, putting Aung San Suu Kyi back under home detention.
Burma's government proclaimed in 1989 that the country's name was Myanmar, and the United Nations is now using that name. It was not really a renaming, as Myanmar was always the name of the land in the Myanmar name. Burma is the name of the land, and that is the name used by Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's chosen guide.
The United States and Australia, which reject the army regimes, still call it Burma. Surrounded by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand, in Southeast Asia. Myanmar has a diversified economic system with privately owned activities in the agricultural, lightweight industrial and transportation sectors and with significant state-controlled activities, particularly in the areas of power, heavier industries and travel-trading.
In 1989-99, the policies of the last 11 years were designed to revive the economies after three centuries of rigorous key-planing. Myanmar is still a poverty-stricken Asia and the standard of life of the vast majority of people has not changed in the last ten years. Shortterm prospects remain slow due to bad governance, domestic riots, low levels of FDI and a high external imbalance.