|General background: Despite multiparty elections
in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party winning
a decisive victory, the ruling military junta refused
to hand over power. Key opposition leader and Nobel
Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, under house
arrest from 1989 to 1995, was again placed under house
detention in September 2000; her supporters are routinely
harassed or jailed.
Slightly smaller than Texas.
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)
Central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands
Ethnic groups: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen
7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other
Religions: Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist
3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other
Language: Burmese, minority ethnic groups
have their own languages.
Government type: Military regime
Capital: Rangoon (regime refers to the capital
Legal system: Has not accepted compulsory
Economic overview: Burma is a resource-rich
country that suffers from 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
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.
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.
Communication/Telephone system: Meets minimum
requirements for local and intercity service for business
and government; international service is good.
Places of interest: