Burma, slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Texas, consists of an area of 678,500 sq. km. The administrative capital, Nay Pyi Taw (Pop. 200,000) is located in central Burma. Rangoon lies along the Amdaman Sea and has a population of 5.5 million; Mandalay lies inland along the Irrawaddy River and has a population of 1.2 million. Burma's terrain is mostly central lowlands ringed by steep rugged highlands. From June to September Burma faces tropical monsoons and cloudy, rainy, hot and humid summers; December to April brings less clouds, scan rainfall, mild temperatures and lower humidity.
Burma was unified by Burman dynasties three times during the past millennium. The first such unification came with the rise of the Bagan (Pagan) Dynasty in 1044 AD, which is considered the "Golden Age" in Burmese history. In the 15th century, the Taungoo Dynasty succeeded again in unifying under Burman rule a large, multi-ethnic kingdom. The final Burman royal dynasty, the Konbaung, was established in 1752 under the rule of King Alaungpaya and lasted until the fall of King Thibaw to Britain in 1885. Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) 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 from the Commonwealth was attained in 1948.
The majority of Burmese are Buddhist (89%), Christian (4%), Muslim (4%), and the last three percent follow other religions. The natural resources of Burma include: petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, and hydropower. The natural hazards facing Burma include: destructive earthquakes and cyclones, flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September), and periodic droughts. On March 23rd, Burma suffered a magnitude 6.8 earthquake in the region neighboring Laos and Thailand. The tremors were felt as far away as Bangkok and Hanoi. For the most recent earthquake information in Asia, visit the Earthquake Hazards Program site of the USGS.
CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 3/2011; 7/2010
This map has also been used:
- Burma, May 2008