Geographic and Governmental Profile of Burma

Background
Various ethnic Burmese and ethnic minority city-states or kingdoms occupied the present borders through the 19th century. Over a period of 62 years (1824-1886), Britain conquered Burma and incorporated the country into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; in 1948, Burma attained independence from the Commonwealth. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. In September 1988, the military deposed NE WIN and established a new ruling junta. Multiparty legislative elections in 1990 resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory. Instead of handing over power, the junta placed NLD leader (and Nobel Peace Prize recipient) AUNG SAN SUU KYI (ASSK) under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, 2000 to 2002, and from May 2003 to November 2010. In late September 2007, the ruling junta brutally suppressed protests over increased fuel prices led by prodemocracy activists and Buddhist monks, killing at least 13 people and arresting thousands for participating in the demonstrations. In early May 2008, Burma was struck by Cyclone Nargis, which left over 138,000 dead and tens of thousands injured and homeless. Despite this tragedy, the junta proceeded with its May constitutional referendum, the first vote in Burma since 1990. Parliamentary elections held in November 2010, considered flawed by many in the international community, saw the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party garnering over 75% of the seats. Parliament convened in January 2011 and selected former Prime Minister THEIN SEIN as president. Although the vast majority of national-level appointees named by THEIN SEIN are former or current military officers, the government has initiated a series of political and economic reforms leading to a substantial opening of the long-isolated country. These reforms have included a senior-level dialogue with ASSK, re-registering the NLD as a political party, enabling party members, including ASSK, to contest parliamentary by-elections on 1 April 2012, the release of many (but not all) political prisoners, preliminary peace agreements with some armed ethnic groups, a reduction in media censorship, and an increasingly open debate in the Parliament.
Location
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand
Geographic coordinates
22 00 N, 98 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Southeast Asia
Area
total:
676,578 sq km
rank:
40
land:
653,508 sq km
water:
23,070 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
Coastline
1,930 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate
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)
Terrain
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, marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower
Land use
arable land:
14.92%
permanent crops:
1.31%
other:
83.77% (2005)
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Irrigated land
22,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
1,045.6 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
33.23 cu km/yr (1%/1%/98%)
per capita:
658 cu m/yr (2000)
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, 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
Country name
conventional long form:
Union of Burma
conventional short form:
Burma
local long form:
Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw (translated by the US Government as Union of Myanma and by the Burmese as Union of Myanmar)
local short form:
Myanma Naingngandaw
former:
Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma
since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw
Government type
nominally civilian parliamentary government took power in March 2011
Capital
name:
Rangoon (Yangon)
geographic coordinates:
16 48 N, 96 09 E
time difference:
UTC+6.5 (11.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Nay Pyi Taw is the administrative capital
Administrative divisions
7 regions (taing-myar, singular - taing) and 7 states (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne)
regions:
Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Yangon
states:
Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine (Arakan), Shan
Independence
4 January 1948 (from the UK)
National holiday
Independence Day, 4 January (1948); Union Day, 12 February (1947)
Constitution
approved by referendum 29 May 2008; reformed by a series of acts in 2011
Legal system
mixed legal system of English common law (as introduced in codifications designed for colonial India) and customary law
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President THEIN SEIN (since 4 February 2011); Vice President SAI MOUK KHAM (since 3 February 2011); Vice President NYAN HTUN (since 15 August 2012)
head of government:
President THEIN SEIN (since 4 February 2011)
cabinet:
cabinet is appointed by the president and confirmed by the parliament
elections:
THEIN SEIN elected president by the parliament from among three vice presidents; the upper house, the lower house, and military members of the parliament each nominate one vice president (president serves a five-year term)
Legislative branch
bicameral, consists of the House of Nationalities [Amyotha Hluttaw] (224 seats, 168 directly elected and 56 appointed by the military; members serve five-year terms) and the House of Representatives [Pythu Hluttaw] (440 seats, 330 directly elected and 110 appointed by the military; members serve five-year terms)
elections:
last held on 7 November 2010 (next to be held in December 2015)
election results:
House of Nationalities - percent of vote by party - USDP 74.8%, others (NUP, SNDP, RNDP, NDF, AMRDP) 25.2%; seats by party - USDP 129, others 39; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - USDP 79.6%, others (NUP, SNDP, RNDP, NDF, AMRDP) 20.4%; seats by party - USDP 259, others 71
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; the 2011 constitution calls for a Supreme Court, a Courts-Martial, and a Constitutional Tribunal of the Union
Political parties and leaders
All Mon Region Democracy Party or AMRDP [NAING NGWE THEIN]; National Democratic Force or NDF [KHIN MAUNG SWE, Dr.THAN NYEIN]; National League for Democracy or NLD [AUNG SAN SUU KYI]; National Unity Party or NUP [TUN YE]; Rakhine Nationalities Development Party or RNDP [Dr. AYE MG]; Shan Nationalities Democratic Party [SAI AIKE PAUNG]; Shan Nationalities League for Democracy or SNLD [HKUN HTUN OO]; Union Solidarity and Development Party or USDP [SHWE MANN, HTAY OO]; numerous smaller parties
Political pressure groups and leaders
Thai border:
Ethnic Nationalities Council or ENC; Federation of Trade Unions-Burma or FTUB (exile trade union and labor advocates); National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma or NCGUB (self-proclaimed government in exile) ["Prime Minister" Dr. SEIN WIN] consists of individuals, some legitimately elected to the People's Assembly in 1990 (the group fled to a border area and joined insurgents in December 1990 to form a parallel government in exile); National Council-Union of Burma or NCUB (exile coalition of opposition groups)
Inside Burma:
Kachin Independence Organization or KIO; Karen National Union or KNU; Karenni National People's Party or KNPP; United Wa State Army or UWSA; 88 Generation Students (pro-democracy movement); several other Chin, Karen, Mon, and Shan factions
freedom of expression has been highly restricted in Burma; the restrictions are being relaxed by the government; political groups, other than parties approved by the government, are limited in number
International organization participation
ADB, ARF, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, NAM, OPCW (signatory), SAARC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador THAN SWE
chancery:
2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:
[1] (202) 332-3344
FAX:
[1] (202) 332-4351
consulate(s) general:
none; Burma has a Mission to the UN in New York
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Derek J. MITCHELL
embassy:
110 University Avenue, Kamayut Township, Rangoon
mailing address:
Box B, APO AP 96546
telephone:
[95] (1) 536-509, 535-756, 538-038
FAX:
[95] (1) 650-306
Flag description
design consists of three equal horizontal stripes of yellow (top), green, and red; centered on the green band is a large white five-pointed star that partially overlaps onto the adjacent colored stripes; the design revives the triband colors used by Burma from 1943-45, during the Japanese occupation
National symbol(s)
chinthe (mythical lion)
National anthem
name:
"Kaba Ma Kyei" (Till the End of the World, Myanmar)
lyrics/music:
SAYA TIN
adopted 1948; Burma is among a handful of non-European nations that have anthems rooted in indigenous traditions; the beginning portion of the anthem is a traditional Burmese anthem before transitioning into a Western-style orchestrated work
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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