Where is Myanmar on the MapWho is Myanmar on the map?
Jump to main content. logo. It is a PDF-only article.
Travelling without tickets in Myanmar
A more open policy and new technology will put much of the countrys economy back on the old avenue. In the 1970', when I was living in Burma (as Myanmar was then called), the local alien populations were small - less than 1000 grown-ups - and almost exclusively in Rangoon (Yangon). The reason for this seeming reticence to discover the land was several.
Assuming that the authorities' approval was obtained in advance, it was possible to travel to most places in downtown Burma, but there was always the danger that even on the underground markets no petrol could be found. There were also only 30,000 kilometers of road in the 1970' s (although Burma is the biggest land on the continent of Southeast Asia), of which almost 21,500 kilometers were suited for easy transportation.
However, there was another limiting element, the lack of trustworthy charts. Whether this was due to the safety concern of the Burmese army rulers or just because Burma did not have the means to make precise tickets for publication. In view of General Ne Win's indiscriminate views on internal submission and possible outside threat (for example, it was alleged that he would refuse to construct proper motorways to Burma's border for fear that they would be used by the invasion forces), it was widely assumed that safety questions were responsible for the issue.
In the face of this reality, most foreign nationals who wanted to travel long or short distances were compelled to depend on an expert native Burmese chauffeur and use the small cards created by organizations such as the National Geographic Society or business companies such as High Cobinson.
At a scale of 1:6,522,000 (1 cm corresponds to 65.52 km) and 1:2,500,000 (1 cm = 25 km), they were enough to lead travelers from one large city to another and to show important geographic characteristics. During the 1970' s, 85 percent of Burma's populace was living in small peasant cities and communities, and thanks to the incompetent and doctrinal Ne Win regime, much of the land was relatively underdeveloped.
As a result, the Gazetteer aircraft manufactured by the UK COLONIES in the 1920' and 1930' could be useful in scheduling an outreach. One of my more adventure-oriented UK counterparts followed another opportunity to look at the various hardcover sets of routes in Burma created in 1944 and 1945 by the Supreme Allied Commander's headquarters, Southeast Asia, and the General Headquarters of India, in aid of Burma's Allied re-invasion.
Travelers also used Motor Road of Burma, a brochure originally issued by Burmah Oil Corporation and (after Ne Win's 1962 coup d'etat) the Ministry of Mines and Myanmar Oil Corporation. Although less detailled than the Burmese itineraries, the consecutive issues of this guidebook followed the same patterns of road listings and identification of major secondary highways.
However, the only cards that were supplied with these brochures were plain line sketches that said nothing about the area. Some members of the embassy tried to obtain a copy of the cards used by the Myanmar military. Most detailled were the old cards of the Fourteenth Army and the Survey of India that the Tatmadaw had taken from the Brits and overprinted in Myanmar during the Second World War.
Within Burma, however, the use of these cards was limited and ownership of these cards was likely to raise suspicion of the Military Intelligence Service. There are other World War II cards that could also provide useful information. As an example, the getaway charts that were silkscreened and distributed to Alliance airplanes who flew over Burma during the dispute were remarkable and still useful, even though they had a 1:1,000,000,000 (1 cm = 10 km) ruler.
It is ironic that, given the regime's nervous attitude to outside threat, high-quality mapping of Burma's outskirts could be obtained from its neighbor. For example, in Thailand and India it was relatively easy to obtain 1:50,000 (1 cm = 0.5 km) surveying charts of their frontier constituencies, which also showed parts of Burma.
Some rebel groups received tickets from their overseas supporters. For example, China provided Burma's Communist Party with detailled cards. The best cards of Burma were the hardest to get in those times of cold war tension and war. Among these were the 1:250,000 (1 cm = 2.5 km) Joint Operations Graphics and other defence charts created by the great forces using advanced map-making technologies, incorporating high-resolution satellites.
While many are now available on-line or in a library, in the 70s the best available to the general population were the aeronautical and naval charting services provided by agents such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the British Hydrographic Office. Intra-community journeys became simpler after a new administration took over in 1988, but formal thought about cards in (renamed) Myanmar changed only slowly.
Shortly after the government's move in 2005, when an US scientist came to visit Naypyitaw, a high-ranking secretary said that there were no cards of the town, as ethnically based groups could use them to plot an onslaught. After a few more years, it took a few more months for the new state capitol to become available.
Today, Myanmar and abroad have a wealth of tickets for graduates, civil servants, chair travelers and visitors. A number of companies in Europe and Asia provide colorful and information mapping of the land on a 1:2,150,000 (1 cm = 21.5 km) to 1:1,350,000 (1 cm = 13.5 km) scales.
We also have bigger cards that concentrate on certain areas of interest, such as Caroline Courtauld's Bagan and Upper Burma and her Myanmar with Myeik. Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw are of good qualitiy and there are even road indexes for some of them. Many of the bigger establishments provide free of charge simple city plans.
A Burmese ATC map showing Bassein was created in 1967 and reworked in 1989. There is also a large selection of topographic charts with a large selection of offical information. U.S. and USSR army charts of Myanmar, for example, can be bought on-line, although some have become somewhat outdated.
Merchandise-based images that cover most of the land are also available. Burmese monitors now have direct contact with information that not so long ago was limited to officially authorized monitors with safety clearance. That doesn't mean they're doing everything right (discredited allegations from Myanmar's Myanmar base are an example), but they have much better research instruments.
There' s also an expansive specialty card business, partly to serve the growing tourism sector (from 800,000 in 2010 to 4.68 million last year). The Myanmar Heritage Trust, for example, has released a map titled Historical Walks in Yangon and the fiduciaries of Shwedagon pagodas in Yangon have created a detailled map of the most important platforms for pagodas and their surroundings.
The British Raj in India has published an illustration map covering Burma's people. Rod Beattie of the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre in Thailand created the first extensive map of the Thai-Burma Rail Link in 2003. Whilst Myanmar's folded stationery cards are still widely used, Myanmar travelers no longer need to depend solely on them for information or travel planning.
As a result of the surge in interest from abroad in Myanmar since President Thein Sein took over in 2011 and the relaxation of formal and informal travelling regulations, several publishers in Europe, Asia and Australia are now producing elaborately-illustrated tourist books in several different nationalities. The majority of them contain detailled cards of the most important sights.
It is in additon to the paper and on-line cards created to assist formal and semi-official work. Organizations such as the UN's Myanmar Information Management Unit have prepared numerous charts that illustrate the country's level of and need for further internationalization. The cyclone Nargis caused the creation of charts with special features of the catastrophe in 2009.
After the 2014 survey, cards with the distributed Myanmar people were released, and since the 2015 election, several cards with the results have been created in graphic notation. Today, Myanmar has a much more open administration and community than it did 45 years ago. Traveling and working in the countryside is no longer an unfamiliar terrain for newcomers.
In addition, scientists, analysts and civil servants, both inside and outside Myanmar, now have direct contact with a broad array of mapping tools to help them understand the land and the needs of its population.