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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Burma
Flag of Burma
Map of Burma
Introduction Burma
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
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand
Geographic coordinates:
22 00 N, 98 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
total: 678,500 sq km
land: 657,740 sq km
water: 20,760 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 5,876 km
border countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, Thailand 1,800 km
1,930 km
Maritime claims:
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
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)
central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Andaman Sea 0 m
highest point: Hkakabo Razi 5,881 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 14.53%
permanent crops: 0.9%
other: 84.57% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
15,920 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; industrial pollution of air, soil, and water; inadequate sanitation and water treatment contribute to disease
Environment - international agreements:
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:
strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes
People Burma
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:
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:
0.56% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
19.65 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
12.25 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.83 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
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:
72.11 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 55.41 years
female: 57.07 years (2002 est.)
male: 53.85 years
Total fertility rate:
2.23 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.99% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
530,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
48,000 (1999 est.)
noun: Burmese (singular and plural)
adjective: Burmese
Ethnic groups:
Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages
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:
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:
military regime
Rangoon (regime refers to the capital as Yangon)
Administrative divisions:
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*
4 January 1948 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 January (1948)
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:
has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
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:
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:
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:
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.
purchasing power parity - $63 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,500 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 42%
industry: 17%
services: 41% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
25% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 32% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
20% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
23.7 million (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 65%, industry 10%, services 25% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
5.1% (2001 est.)
revenues: $7.9 billion
expenditures: $12.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $5.7 billion (FY96/97)
agricultural processing; knit and woven apparel; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
4.766 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 83%
hydro: 17%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
4.432 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products
$1.8 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
apparel 55%, foodstuffs 18%, wood products 13%, precious stones 2% (2000)
Exports - partners:
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
$2.2 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, food products, textile fabrics, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
China 26%, Singapore 23%, South Korea 15%, Japan 10%, Taiwan 10% (2000 est.)
Debt - external:
$6 billion
Economic aid - recipient:
$99 million (FY98/99)
kyat (MMK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
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:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Burma
Telephones - main lines in use:
250,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
8,492 (1997)
Telephone system:
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:
AM 2, FM 3, shortwave 3 (1998)
4.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (1998)
320,000 (2000)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
note: as of September 2000, Internet connections were legal only for the government, tourist offices, and a few large businesses (2000)
Internet users:
10,000 (2002)
Transportation Burma
total: 3,991 km
narrow gauge: 3,991 km 1.000-m gauge (2000 est.)
total: 28,200 km
paved: 3,440 km
unpaved: 24,760 km (1996)
12,800 km
note: 3,200 km navigable by large commercial vessels
crude oil 1,343 km; natural gas 330 km
Ports and harbors:
Bassein, Bhamo, Chauk, Mandalay, Moulmein, Myitkyina, Rangoon, Akyab (Sittwe), Tavoy
Merchant marine:
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
80 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
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:
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
1 (2002)
Military Burma
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
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:
males age 15-49: 6,502,013
females age 15-49: 6,491,732 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 486,432
females: 470,667 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$39 million (FY97/98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.1% (FY97/98)
Transnational Issues Burma
Disputes - international:
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:
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