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People and Society






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.


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People And Society

Noun Burmese (singular and plural)
Adjective Burmese

Ethnic groups
Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%

Burmese (official)
Minority ethnic groups have their own languages

Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%

Population World Ranking: 24
54,584,650 (July 2012 est.)
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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

Age structure
0-14 years
27.5% (male 7,560,859/female 7,278,652)
15-64 years
67.5% (male 18,099,707/female 18,342,696)
65 years and over
5% (male 1,184,291/female 1,533,599) (2011 est.)

Median age
Total 27.2 years
Male 26.7 years
Female 27.8 years (2012 est.)

Population growth rate World Ranking: 110
1.07% (2012 est.)

Birth rate World Ranking: 98
19.11 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate World Ranking: 95
8.1 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net migration rate World Ranking: 128
-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Urban population 34% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization
2.9% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major cities - population
RANGOON (capital) 4.259 million; Mandalay 1.009 million; Nay Pyi Taw 992,000 (2009)

Sex ratio
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 0.77 male(s)/female
Total population
0.99 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate World Ranking: 52
200 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate World Ranking: 48
Total 47.74 deaths/1,000 live births
Male 54.51 deaths/1,000 live births
40.57 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth World Ranking: 167
Total population 65.24 years
Male 62.91 years
Female 67.71 years (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate World Ranking: 101
2.23 children born/woman (2012 est.)

Health expenditures World Ranking: 188
2% of GDP (2009)

Physicians density
0.457 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density
0.6 beds/1,000 population (2006)

Hiv/aids - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 62
0.6% (2009 est.)

Hiv/aids - people living with hiv/aids World Ranking: 24
240,000 (2009 est.)

Hiv/aids - deaths World Ranking: 17
18,000 (2009 est.)

Major infectious diseases
Degree of risk Very high
Food or waterborne diseases
Bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne diseases Dengue fever and malaria
Water contact disease Leptospirosis
Animal contact disease Rabies
Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight World Ranking: 19
29.6% (2003)

Education expenditures

Age 15 and over can read and write
Total population 89.9%
Male 93.9%
Female 86.4% (2006 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
Total 9 years (2007)


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  Burma (Rangoon):

  GPS points from Burma (Rangoon)

Kyatywe Chaung Shan State

Palaingki Burma (general)

Sinmathe Ayeyarwady

Wan Ma-keng Shan State

Wan Pangkaw Shan State

Wan Pao Shan State

Nyaungbinseik Rakhine State

Kabaseik Burma (general)
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