Why Burma became Myanmar

Clues to Burma Myanmar

But Maymyo became Pyin Oo Lwin - and Burma became Myanmar. It was the first president of the Burmese Union. In the course of the years, this play on words has become highly politicized. Burma became an important front in Southeast Asian theatre during the Second World War. Myanmar is undergoing the most dramatic changes in Asia.

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Burma is a small south-east Asian nation with almost 55 million people. Once known as Burma, the nation formally renamed itself "Myanmar" in 1989 after years of civil unrest. But the two are still used in different context. Burma was introduced in 1886 by colonisers and slightly modified by Myanmar residents to reflect Anglophone pronunciations.

In 1948 the settlement became an autonomous entity and its name was renamed "The Union of Burma". At the end of the conflict and after gaining sovereignty, the nation went through severe civil and economic unrest and fought for a new nation. In 1989 a army june took over and set up a committee to rename the land and its capitol.

As a result, Burma became Myanmar and Rangoon became Yangoon. Most of the changes have been made for the following reasons: Burma is the offical name in the Myanmar dialect (as the two languages have very similar pronunciations); the army wanted to remove all English name adjustments. The people thought that the name "Burma" - enjoined by colonisers from Britain - only related to the Myanmar minority and had ethnic-suprematist connotations. Therefore, they did not believe the name "Burma".

Until today the name of the republic is "The Republic of the Union of Myanmar", but not everyone has agreed to the new cipher. Indeed, most English-speaking nations (e.g. Canada, Great Britain, USA, etc.) have never recognised the changes. In this sense, both are still used and it is assumed that the option to use "Myanmar" instead of "Burma" (and the other way around) is largely contextual.

Aung San Suu Kyi - first and current councillor and leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy - has for years been insisting on using "Burma" instead of "Myanmar" as a symbol of resistance to the army' regime that renamed it. But today the internal debates have come to an end as the situation in the host countries is more important and pressing.

Internationally, the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations use the name "Myanmar", while papers and news agencies use both releases according to their contexts - or even in the same play, as not all of them are aware of the changes.

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