Republic of the Union of Myanmar

  • ပြည်ထောင်စု သမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်‌  (Burmese)
  • Pyidaunzu Thanmăda Myăma Nainngandaw
Location of Myanmar (green) in ASEAN (dark grey)  –  [Legend]
Location of Myanmar (green)

in ASEAN (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Location of Myanmar
CapitalNaypyidaw (Nay Pyi Taw)
19°45′N 96°6′E / 19°45′N 96°6′E / 19.750; 96.100
Largest cityYangon (Rangoon)
Official languagesBurmese
Recognised regional languages
Official scriptBurmese script
Ethnic groups
Theravāda Buddhism 87.9%
Christianity 6.2%
Islam 4.3%
Other 1.6%[2]
Demonym(s)Burmese / Myanma[3]
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional republic
• President
Win Myint
Aung San Suu Kyi
Myint Swe
Henry Van Thio
LegislatureAssembly of the Union
House of Nationalities
House of Representatives
23 December 849
16 October 1510
29 February 1752
1 January 1886
4 January 1948
2 March 1962
30 March 2011
• Total
676,578 km2 (261,228 sq mi) (39th)
• Water (%)
• 2017 census
53,582,855 (2017)[4] (25th)
• Density
76/km2 (196.8/sq mi) (125th)
GDP (PPP)2018 estimate
• Total
$359.107 billion[5] (51st)
• Per capita
$6,797[5] (128th)
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$71.543 billion[5] (72nd)
• Per capita
$1,354[5] (155th)
Gini (2015)38.1[6]
HDI (2018)Increase 0.584[7]
medium · 145th
CurrencyKyat (K) (MMK)
Time zoneUTC+06:30 (MMT)
Driving sideright
Calling code+95
ISO 3166 codeMM

Myanmar (English pronunciation below; မြန်မာ Burmese: [mjəmà]),[nb 1] officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and also known as Burma, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos and Thailand to its east and southeast, and the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to its south and southwest. With a size of 676,578 square kilometres (261,228 square miles), Myanmar is the largest of the Mainland Southeast Asian states by area. As of 2017, the population is about 54 million.[4] Its capital city is Naypyidaw, and its largest city is Yangon (Rangoon).[1] Myanmar has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 1997.

Early civilisations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma.[8] In the 9th century, the Bamar people entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language, culture and Theravada Buddhism slowly became dominant in the country. The Pagan Kingdom fell due to the Mongol invasions and several warring states emerged. In the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Mainland Southeast Asia.[9] The early 19th century Konbaung dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Myanmar and briefly controlled Manipur and Assam as well. The British East India Company seized control of the administration of Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony. Myanmar was granted independence in 1948, as a democratic nation. Following a coup d'état in 1962, it became a military dictatorship under the Burma Socialist Programme Party.

For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and its myriad ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world's longest-running ongoing civil wars. During this time, the United Nations and several other organisations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country.[10] In 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved following a 2010 general election, and a nominally civilian government was installed. This, along with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners, has improved the country's human rights record and foreign relations, and has led to the easing of trade and other economic sanctions.[11] There is, however, continuing criticism of the government's treatment of ethnic minorities, its response to the ethnic insurgency, and religious clashes.[12] In the landmark 2015 election, Aung San Suu Kyi's party won a majority in both houses. However, the Burmese military remains a powerful force in politics.

Myanmar is a member of the East Asia Summit, Non-Aligned Movement, ASEAN and BIMSTEC, but not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is a country rich in jade and gems, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources. Myanmar is also endowed with renewable energy; it has the highest solar power potential compared to other countries of the Great Mekong Subregion.[13] In 2013, its GDP (nominal) stood at US$56.7 billion and its GDP (PPP) at US$221.5 billion.[14] The income gap in Myanmar is among the widest in the world, as a large proportion of the economy is controlled by supporters of the former military government.[15] As of 2016, Myanmar ranks 145 out of 188 countries in human development, according to the Human Development Index.[7]


Both the names Myanmar and Burma derive from the earlier Burmese Myanma or Myamma, an ethnonym for the majority Bamar ethnic group, of uncertain etymology.[16] The terms are also popularly thought to derive from Brahma Desha after Brahma.[17]

In 1989, the military government officially changed the English translations of many names dating back to Burma's colonial period or earlier, including that of the country itself: Burma became Myanmar. The renaming remains a contested issue.[18] Many political and ethnic opposition groups and countries continue to use Burma because they do not recognise the legitimacy of the ruling military government or its authority to rename the country.[19]

In April 2016, soon after taking office, Aung San Suu Kyi said concerning the question of which name should be used that, "it is up to you, because there is nothing in the constitution of our country that says that you must use any term in particular". She continued, "I use Burma very often because I am used to using it. But it does not mean that I require other people to do that as well. And I’ll make an effort to say Myanmar from time to time so you all feel comfortable".[20]

The country's official full name is the "Republic of the Union of Myanmar" (ပြည်ထောင်စုသမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်, Pyihtaungsu Thamada Myanma Naingngantaw, pronounced [pjìdàʊɴzṵ θàɴməda̰ mjəmà nàɪɴŋàɴdɔ̀]). Countries that do not officially recognise that name use the long form "Union of Burma" instead.[1][21]

In English, the country is popularly known as either Burma or Myanmar. Both these names are derived from the name of the majority Burmese Bamar ethnic group. Myanmar is considered to be the literary form of the name of the group, while Burma is derived from "Bamar", the colloquial form of the group's name.[18] Depending on the register used, the pronunciation would be Bama (pronounced [bəmà]) or Myamah (pronounced [mjəmà]).[18] The name Burma has been in use in English since the 18th century.

Burma continues to be used in English by the government of the United Kingdom.[22][23] Official United States policy retains Burma as the country's name, although the State Department's website lists the country as Burma (Myanmar) and Barack Obama has referred to the country by both names.[24] The CIA's World Factbook lists the country as Burma as of August 2019.[1] The government of Canada has in the past used Burma,[22] such as in its 2007 legislation imposing sanctions,[25] but as of the mid-2010s generally uses Myanmar.[26] The Czech Republic officially uses Myanmar, although its Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses both Myanmar and Burma on its website.[27] The United Nations uses Myanmar, as do the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia,[28] Russia, Germany,[29] China, India, Bangladesh, Norway,[30] Japan[22] and Switzerland.[31]

Most English-speaking international news media refer to the country by the name Myanmar, including the BBC,[32] CNN,[33] Al Jazeera,[34] Reuters,[35] and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)/Radio Australia.[36]

Myanmar is known with a name deriving from Burma as opposed to Myanmar in Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and GreekBirmania being the local version of Burma in the Spanish language, for example. Myanmar used to be known as Birmânia in Portuguese, and as Birmanie in French.[37] As in the past, French-language media today consistently use Birmanie.[38][39]

English pronunciations of Myanmar

Myanmar is pronounced in at least nine different ways in English: ɑːr/, ɑːr/, ɑːr/ (About this soundlisten), ɑːr/, ɑːr/, ɑːr/, ɑːr/, ɑːr/, ɑːr/.[40]