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Officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also known as Burma, is a sovereign state bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. One-third of Myanmar’s total perimeter forms an uninterrupted coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The country’s 2014 consensus revealed a population around 51 million. Its capital city is Naypyidaw and its largest city is Yangon (Ragoon).

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.

The Pagan Kingdom fell due to the Mongol invasions and several warring states emerged. In the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo Dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia. The British conquered Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese War in the 19th century and the country became a British colony. Myanmar became an independent nation in 1948, initially as a democratic nation and then, following a coup d’etat in 1962 a military dictatorship.

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.

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