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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January, 2004
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook.

This page was last updated on 10 February, 2005

Map of Burma

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Burma
Definition Field Listing
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. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. Despite multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory, the ruling junta refused to hand over power. NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, was imprisoned in May 2003 and is currently under house arrest. In December 2004, the junta announced it was extending her detention for at least an additional year. Her supporters, as well as all those who promote democracy and improved human rights, are routinely harassed or jailed.
   Geography    Burma
Definition Field Listing
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
22 00 N, 98 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Southeast Asia
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 678,500 sq km
land: 657,740 sq km
water: 20,760 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 5,876 km
border countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, Thailand 1,800 km
Definition Field Listing
1,930 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
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)
Definition Field Listing
central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Andaman Sea 0 m
highest point: Hkakabo Razi 5,881 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 15.19%
permanent crops: 0.97%
other: 83.84% (2001)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
15,920 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); periodic droughts
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
deforestation; industrial pollution of air, soil, and water; inadequate sanitation and water treatment contribute to disease
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes
   People    Burma
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
note: estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 27.6% (male 6,023,874; female 5,774,055)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 14,317,308; female 14,504,500)
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 927,570; female 1,172,889) (2004 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 25.7 years
male: 25.2 years
female: 26.3 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.47% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
18.64 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12.16 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-1.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 68.78 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 74.78 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 62.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 56.01 years
male: 54.22 years
female: 57.9 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.08 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
330,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
20,000 (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Burmese (singular and plural)
adjective: Burmese
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
Definition Field Listing
Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
Definition Field Listing
Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.3%
male: 89.2%
female: 81.4% (2002)
   Government    Burma
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
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
note: since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, and the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
military junta
Definition Field Listing
Rangoon (government refers to the capital as Yangon)
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
7 divisions (taing-myar, singular - taing) and 7 states (pyi ne-myar, singular - pyi ne)
: divisions: Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Yangon (Rangoon)
: states: Chin State, Kachin State, Kayin State, Kayah State, Mon State, Rakhine State, Shan State
Definition Field Listing
4 January 1948 (from UK)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 4 January (1948); Union Day, 12 February (1947)
Definition Field Listing
3 January 1974 (suspended since 18 September 1988); national convention convened in 1993 to draft a new constitution but collapsed in 1996; reconvened in 2004 but does not include participation of democratic opposition
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Sr. Gen. THAN SHWE (since 23 April 1992)
head of government: Prime Minister, Gen SOE WIN (since 19 October 2004)
cabinet: State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); military junta, so named 15 November 1997, which initially assumed power 18 September 1988 under the name State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC); the SPDC oversees the cabinet
elections: none
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral People's Assembly or Pyithu Hluttaw (485 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 27 May 1990, but Assembly never allowed by junta to convene
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NLD 392 (opposition), SNLD 23 (opposition), NUP 10 (pro-government), other 60
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
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
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
National League for Democracy or NLD [AUNG SHWE, chairman, AUNG SAN SUU KYI, general secretary]; National Unity Party or NUP (progovernment) [THA KYAW]; Shan Nationalities League for Democracy or SNLD [KHUN HTUN OO]; and other smaller parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
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 parallel government in exile); Kachin Independence Army or KIA; Karen National Union or KNU; several Shan factions; United Wa State Army or UWSA; Union Solidarity and Development Association or USDA (progovernment, a social and political organization) [THAN AUNG, general secretary]
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: vacant
chancery: 2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-9044
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9046
consulate(s) general: New York (UN)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Charge d'Affaires Carmen M. MARTINEZ
embassy: 581 Merchant Street, Rangoon (GPO 521)
mailing address: Box B, APO AP 96546
telephone: [95] (1) 379 880, 379 881
FAX: [95] (1) 256 018
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing, 14 white five-pointed stars encircling a cogwheel containing a stalk of rice; the 14 stars represent the 7 administrative divisions and 7 states
   Economy    Burma
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Burma is a resource-rich country that suffers from government controls and abject rural poverty. The military regime took steps in the early 1990s to liberalize the economy after decades of failure under the "Burmese Way to Socialism", but those efforts have since stalled. Burma has been unable to achieve monetary or fiscal stability, resulting in an economy that suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including a steep inflation rate and an official exchange rate that overvalues the Burmese kyat by more than 100 times the market rate. In addition, most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta suppressed the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently ignored the results of the 1990 election. A crisis in the private banking sector in early 2003 followed by economic moves against Burma by the United States, the European Union, and Japan - including a US ban on imports from Burma and a Japanese freeze on new bilateral economic aid - further weakened the Burmese economy. Burma is data poor, and official statistics are often dated and inaccurate. Published estimates of Burma's foreign trade are greatly understated because of the size of the black market and border trade - often estimated to be one to two times the official economy. Better relations with foreign countries and relaxed controls at home are needed to promote foreign investment, exports, and tourism. In February 2003, a major banking crisis hit the country's 20 private banks, shutting them down and disrupting the economy. In July and August 2003, the United States imposed a ban on all Burmese imports and a ban on provision of financial services, hampering Burma's ability to obtain foreign exchange. As of January 2004, the largest private banks remained moribund, leaving the private sector with little formal access to credit outside of government contracts.
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $74.53 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
-0.5% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $1,800 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 57.2%
industry: 9.6%
services: 33.1% (2003 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
11.8% of GDP (2003)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
25% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
49.7% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
22.14 million (2003 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 70%, industry 7%, services 23% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.2% (2003)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $7.9 billion
expenditures: $12.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $5.7 billion (FY96/97)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products
Definition Field Listing
agricultural processing; knit and woven apparel; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer; cement
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.139 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.709 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
18,590 bbl/day (2002 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
38,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
115 million bbl (1 January 2003)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.35 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.15 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.2 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
314.4 billion cu m (1 January 2003)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$-35 million (2003)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$2.434 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
Clothing, gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Thailand 31.5%, US 10.2%, India 9.3%, China 5.8%, Japan 4.8% (2003)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$2.071 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
Fabric, petroleum products, plastics, machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, crude oil; food products
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
China 31.1%, Singapore 22.3%, Thailand 15.1%, South Korea 6.3%, Malaysia 4.8%, Japan 4.3% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$562 million (2003)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$6.011 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$127 million (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
kyat (MMK)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
kyats per US dollar - 6.0764 (2003), 6.5734 (2002), 6.6841 (2001), 6.5167 (2000), 6.2858 (1999)
note: these are official exchange rates; unofficial exchange rates ranged in 2003 from 100 kyat/US dollar to nearly 1000 kyat/US dollar
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
1 April - 31 March
   Communications    Burma
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
357,300 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
66,500 (2003)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: barely meets minimum requirements for local and intercity service for business and government; international service is fair
domestic: NA
international: country code - 95; satellite earth station - 2, Intelsat (Indian Ocean), and ShinSat
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 1, FM 1 (2004)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
2 (2004)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3 (2003)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
28,000 (2003)
   Transportation    Burma
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 3,955 km
narrow gauge: 3,955 km 1.000-m gauge (2003)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 28,200 km
paved: 3,440 km
unpaved: 24,760 km (1996 est.)
Definition Field Listing
12,800 km (2004)
Definition Field Listing
gas 2,056 km; oil 558 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Bhamo, Chauk, Mandalay, Moulmein, Myitkyina, Pathein, Rangoon, Sittwe, Tavoy
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 31 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 384,529 GRT/608,609 DWT
by type: bulk 8, cargo 18, container 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 1
foreign-owned: Germany 6, Japan 4 (2004 est.)
Definition Field Listing
79 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 9
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 69
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
914 to 1,523 m: 20
under 914 m: 31 (2004 est.)
Definition Field Listing
1 (2003 est.)
   Military    Burma
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - military age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age for voluntary military service for both sexes (May 2002)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 12,450,884
females age 15-49: 12,457,077 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 6,609,995
females age 15-49: 6,595,611 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 441,333
females: 440,914 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$39 million (FY97)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.1% (FY97)
   Transnational Issues    Burma
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
despite continuing border committee talks, significant differences remain with Thailand over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities; groups in Burma and Thailand express concern over China's construction of 13 hydroelectric dams on the Salween River in Yunnan Province; India seeks cooperation from Burma to keep out Indian Nagaland insurgents
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Definition Field Listing
IDPs: 600,000 - 1,000,000 (government offensives against ethnic insurgent groups near borders; most IDPs are ethnic Karen, Karenni, Shan, and Mon) (2004)
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
world's second largest producer of illicit opium (potential production in 2003 - 484 metric tons, down 23% due to eradication efforts and alternate development; cultivation in 2003 - 47,130 hectares, a 39% decline from 2002); surrender of drug warlord KHUN SA's Mong Tai Army in January 1996 was hailed by Rangoon as a major counternarcotics success, but lack of government will and ability to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort; major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption; currently under Financial Action Task Force countermeasures due to continued failure to address its inadequate money-laundering controls

This page was last updated on 10 February, 2005

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