With the rising popularity of one of the most mysterious country in South East Asia, many people around the world are wondering: Where is Myanmar?
Burma, or Myanmar, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. It’s located at the northeast edge of Southeast Asia and borders Thailand, Laos, China, Tibet, India, and Bangladesh.
Burma has beautiful scenery and 1,200 miles of coastline along the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, however, tourism numbers are far lower than those of neighboring Thailand and Laos.
The country was mostly closed off until relatively recently; the regime in charge didn’t do much to attract visitors. Today, tourists are flocking to Burma for one simple reason: it’s changing rapidly.
Although Burma is considered by some to be part of South Asia (the many influences from proximity can be seen), it is officially a member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
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Burma or Myanmar?
Myanmar government officially changed the name to “The Republic of the Union Myanmar” by the ruling military junta in 1089. The change was rejected by many world governments due to the junta’s messy history of civil war and human rights violations.
Although diplomats and governments once showed disapproval by sticking to the old name of Burma, that has changed. The 2015 elections and the victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party helped open up international relations and tourism, making the name “Myanmar” more acceptable.
People from Myanmar are still referred to as “Burmese”.
Interesting Facts about Myanmar
Despite a landmass of 261,227 square miles, the 2014 census found a population of only around 51 million.
The capital of Myanmar was moved from Yangon (formerly Rangoon) to Naypyidaw in 2005. Yangon is still the largest city.
The mountains in Myanmar are home to many precious stones. Around 90 percent of the world’s rubies come from Myanmar. Sapphires and jade are also abundant. Some large Western retailers balk at gems from Burma due to labor conditions.
Myanmar is the second largest exporter of opium in the world (Afghanistan is the first).
Myanmar was one of only three countries in the world (including the United States and Liberia) who had not yet adopted the metric system of measurement. In October 2013, the Burmese government announced that they were planning to migrate to the metric system.
Myanmar once had one of the strictest internet censorship policies in the world. Bloggers have been jailed for posting photos that depict problems in the country. Internet cafes would once hold onto your passport as they monitored your web usage.
Until 2013, Myanmar was one of only three countries in the world where you couldn’t buy a Coca-Cola; Cuba and North Korea were the other two. Now that Cuba is opening up, North Korea is the last holdout.
The trains in Myanmar bounce and sway slowly along old colonial tracks. They cautiously cross the hair-raising Gorteik Viaduct. At 335 feet high, it is one of the highest railway trestles in the world.
Although international flights to Burma seems difficult nowadays, this country still worth a holiday.
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