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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Burma

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Burma
Definition Field Listing
Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-86) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; independence outside of the Commonwealth was attained in 1948. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as president, and later as political kingmaker. Despite multiparty elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party winning a decisive victory, the ruling military junta refused to hand over power. Key opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, was again placed under house detention from September 2000 to May 2002; her supporters are routinely harassed or jailed.
   Geography    Burma
Definition Field Listing
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
22 00 N, 98 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Southeast Asia
Definition Field Listing
total: 678,500 sq km
land: 657,740 sq km
water: 20,760 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 5,876 km
border countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, Thailand 1,800 km
Definition Field Listing
1,930 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Definition Field Listing
tropical monsoon; cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers (southwest monsoon, June to September); less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter (northeast monsoon, December to April)
Definition Field Listing
central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Andaman Sea 0 m
highest point: Hkakabo Razi 5,881 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 14.53%
permanent crops: 0.9%
other: 84.57% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
15,920 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
deforestation; industrial pollution of air, soil, and water; inadequate sanitation and water treatment contribute to disease
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes
   People    Burma
Definition Field Listing
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 28.6% (male 6,158,039; female 5,905,314)
15-64 years: 66.6% (male 13,976,047; female 14,162,467)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 905,476; female 1,130,881) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.56% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
19.65 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
12.25 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-1.83 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
72.11 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 55.41 years
female: 57.07 years (2002 est.)
male: 53.85 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.23 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.99% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
530,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
48,000 (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Burmese (singular and plural)
adjective: Burmese
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Definition Field Listing
Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
Definition Field Listing
Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.1%
male: 88.7%
female: 77.7% (1995 est.)
note: these are official statistics; estimates of functional literacy are likely closer to 30% (1999 est.)
   Government    Burma
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Union of Burma
conventional short form: Burma
local short form: Myanma Naingngandaw
local long form: Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw (translated by the US Government as Union of Myanma and by the Burmese as Union of Myanmar)
former: Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma
note: since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
military regime
Definition Field Listing
Rangoon (regime refers to the capital as Yangon)
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
7 divisions* (yin-mya, singular - yin) and 7 states (pyine-mya, singular - pyine); Chin State, Ayeyarwady*, Bago*, Kachin State, Kayin State, Kayah State, Magway*, Mandalay*, Mon State, Rakhine State, Sagaing*, Shan State, Tanintharyi*, Yangon*
Definition Field Listing
4 January 1948 (from UK)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 4 January (1948)
Definition Field Listing
3 January 1974 (suspended since 18 September 1988); national convention started on 9 January 1993 to draft a new constitution; progress has since been stalled
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: Prime Minister and Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Sr. Gen. THAN SHWE (since 23 April 1992); note - the prime minister is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Prime Minister and Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Sr. Gen. THAN SHWE (since 23 April 1992); note - the prime minister is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); military junta, so named 15 November 1997, which initially assumed power 18 September 1988 under the name State Law and Order Restoration Council; the SPDC oversees the cabinet
elections: none; the prime minister assumed power upon resignation of the former prime minister
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral People's Assembly or Pyithu Hluttaw (485 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 27 May 1990, but Assembly never convened
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NLD 392, SNLD 23, NUP 10, other 60
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
remnants of the British-era legal system are in place, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial; the judiciary is not independent of the executive
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
National League for Democracy or NLD [AUNG SHWE, chairman, AUNG SAN SUU KYI, general secretary]; National Unity Party or NUP (proregime) [THA KYAW]; Shan Nationalities League for Democracy or SNLD [U KHUN TUN OO]; Union Solidarity and Development Association or USDA (proregime, a social and political organization) [THAN AUNG, general secretary]; and other smaller parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
All Burma Student Democratic Front or ABSDF; Kachin Independence Army or KIA; Karen National Union or KNU; National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma or NCGUB [Dr. SEIN WIN] consists of individuals legitimately elected to the People's Assembly but not recognized by the military regime (the group fled to a border area and joined with insurgents in December 1990 to form a parallel government); several Shan factions; United Wa State Army or UWSA
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador TIN WINN
consulate(s) general: New York
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9046
telephone: [1] (202) 332-9044
chancery: 2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Permanent Charge d'Affaires Carmen M. MARTINEZ
embassy: 581 Merchant Street, Rangoon (GPO 521)
mailing address: Box B, APO AP 96546
telephone: [95] (1) 256-019, 256-016
FAX: [95] (1) 256-018
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing, all in white, 14 five-pointed stars encircling a cogwheel containing a stalk of rice; the 14 stars represent the 14 administrative divisions
   Economy    Burma
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Burma is a resource-rich country that suffers from abject rural poverty. The military regime took steps in the early 1990s to liberalize the economy after decades of failure under the "Burmese Way to Socialism", but those efforts have since stalled. Burma has been unable to achieve monetary or fiscal stability, resulting in an economy that suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including an official exchange rate that overvalues the Burmese kyat by more than 100 times the market rate. In addition, most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta suppressed the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently ignored the results of the 1990 election. Burma is data poor, and official statistics are often dated and inaccurate. Published estimates of Burma's foreign trade are greatly understated because of the size of the black market and border trade - often estimated to be one to two times the official economy.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $63 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $1,500 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 42%
industry: 17%
services: 41% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
25% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 32% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
20% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
23.7 million (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 65%, industry 10%, services 25% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
5.1% (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $7.9 billion
expenditures: $12.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $5.7 billion (FY96/97)
Definition Field Listing
agricultural processing; knit and woven apparel; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
4.766 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 83%
hydro: 17%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
4.432 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products
Definition Field Listing
$1.8 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
apparel 55%, foodstuffs 18%, wood products 13%, precious stones 2% (2000)
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 27%, India 16%, China 7%, Japan 6%, Singapore 6% (2000 est.)
note: official trade statistics do not include trade in illicit goods - such as narcotics, teak, and gems - or the largely unrecorded border trade with China and Thailand
Definition Field Listing
$2.2 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, food products, textile fabrics, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
China 26%, Singapore 23%, South Korea 15%, Japan 10%, Taiwan 10% (2000 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$6 billion
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$99 million (FY98/99)
Definition Field Listing
kyat (MMK)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
kyats per US dollar - official rate - 6.8581 (January 2002), 6.7489 (2001), 6.5167 (2000), 6.2858 (1999), 6.3432 (1998), 6.2418 (1997); kyats per US dollar - black market exchange rate - 435 (yearend 2000)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
1 April - 31 March
   Communications    Burma
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
250,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
8,492 (1997)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: meets minimum requirements for local and intercity service for business and government; international service is good
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 2, FM 3, shortwave 3 (1998)
Definition Field Listing
4.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
2 (1998)
Definition Field Listing
320,000 (2000)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
note: as of September 2000, Internet connections were legal only for the government, tourist offices, and a few large businesses (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
10,000 (2002)
   Transportation    Burma
Definition Field Listing
total: 3,991 km
narrow gauge: 3,991 km 1.000-m gauge (2000 est.)
Definition Field Listing
total: 28,200 km
paved: 3,440 km
unpaved: 24,760 km (1996)
Definition Field Listing
12,800 km
note: 3,200 km navigable by large commercial vessels
Definition Field Listing
crude oil 1,343 km; natural gas 330 km
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Bassein, Bhamo, Chauk, Mandalay, Moulmein, Myitkyina, Rangoon, Akyab (Sittwe), Tavoy
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 35 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 382,386 GRT/582,084 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 5, Japan 4 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 9, cargo 21, container 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 1
Definition Field Listing
80 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 8
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 72
under 914 m: 34 (2002)
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
914 to 1,523 m: 20
Definition Field Listing
1 (2002)
   Military    Burma
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 12,211,144
note: both sexes liable for military service (2002 est.)
females age 15-49: 12,223,069
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 6,502,013
females age 15-49: 6,491,732 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 486,432
females: 470,667 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$39 million (FY97/98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
2.1% (FY97/98)
   Transnational Issues    Burma
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
despite renewed border committee talks, significant differences remain with Thailand over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic guerrilla rebels, refugees, smuggling, and drug trafficking in cross-border region; Burmese attempts to construct a dam on border stream with Bangladesh in 2001 prompted an armed response halting construction; Burmese Muslim migration into Bangladesh strains Bangladesh's meager resources
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
world's second largest producer of illicit opium (potential production in 2002 - 630 metric tons, down 27% due to drought and, to a lesser extent, eradication; cultivation in 2002 - 77,000 hectares, a 27% decline from 2001); surrender of drug warlord KHUN SA's Mong Tai Army in January 1996 was hailed by Rangoon as a major counternarcotics success, but lack of government will and ability to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort; major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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