Early civilizations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma. In the 9th century the Bamar people entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language, culture and Theravada Buddhism slowly became dominant in the country.
For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and the Burma’s myriad ethnic groups have been involved in of the world’s longest-running ongoing civil wars. In 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved following a 2010 general election, and a nominally civilian government was installed. In a landmark 2015 election, the NLD under Aung San Suu Kyi won a majority in both houses, ending military rule.
Myanmar is a country rich in jade and gems, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources. The income gap in Myanmar is among the widest in the world, as a large proportion of the economy is controlled by supporters of the former military government.