Myanmar (English pronunciation below; Burmese: [mjəmà]), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also known as Burma, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west, Thailand and Laos to its east and China to its north and northeast. To its south, about one third of Myanmar's total perimeter of 5,876 km (3,651 mi) forms an uninterrupted coastline of 1,930 km (1,200 mi) along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The country's 2014 census counted the population to be 51 million people. As of 2017, the population is about 54 million. Myanmar is 676,578 square kilometres (261,228 square miles) in size. Its capital city is Naypyidaw, and its largest city and former capital is Yangon (Rangoon). Myanmar has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 1997.
- The unity between India and Burma was not less fundamental. If unity is to be of an abiding character, it must be founded on a sense of kinship, in the feeling of being kindred. In short, it must be spiritual. Judged in the light of these considerations, the unity between Pakistan and Hindustan is a myth. Indeed, there is more spiritual unity between Hindustan and Burma than there is between Pakistan and Hindustan.
- B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
- Myanmar security forces were seen firing slingshots at protesters, chasing them down and even brutally beating an ambulance crew in video showing a dramatic escalation of violence against opponents of last month's military coup. A UN official speaking from Switzerland said 38 people had been killed Wednesday, a figure consistent with other reports though accounts are difficult to confirm inside the country. The increasingly deadly violence could galvanize the international community, which has responded fitfully so far. "Today it was the bloodiest day since the coup happened on Feb. 1. We have today - only today - 38 people died. We have now more than over 50 people died since the coup started" and more have been wounded, the U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, told reporters at U.N. headquarters on Wednesday... Schraner Burgener, who supports sanctions, said she receives some 2,000 messages per day from people inside Myanmar, many "who are really desperate to see action from the international community." The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes Myanmar, issued a statement after a teleconference meeting of foreign ministers Tuesday that merely called for an end to violence and for talks on how to reach a peaceful settlement. ASEAN has a tradition of non-interference in each other's internal affairs. Ignoring that appeal, Myanmar's security forces have continued to attack peaceful protesters.
- The Buddhism of Burma is probably the purest now extant, and its monks often approach the ideal of Buddha; under their ministrations the 13,000,000 inhabitants of Burma have reached a standard of living considerably higher than that of India.
- Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage: India and Her Neighbors (1963)
- For the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, news of the fall of Aung San Suu Kyi after the military coup was bittersweet. After all, no community had felt more betrayed by Myanmar’s civilian leader. When she came to power in 2015, the belief was that she would overturn decades of persecution and finally bring about peace and citizenship, following in the footsteps of her father, Gen Aung San. Instead, under her watch the military carried out their most violent operation against the Rohingya, embarking on a genocidal campaign of rape, pillage and murder in Rakhine state in 2017 and driving almost a million people over the border to Bangladesh as refugees. Standing before the International Courts of Justice in The Hague in the Netherlands in 2019, Aung San Suu Kyi, a former Nobel peace prize winner, defended the military action.
- ‘We cannot hope for anything good’: Myanmar coup sparks despair for Rohingya, by Hannah Ellis-Petersen and Shaikh Azizur Rahman, The Guardian, (14 Feb 2021)
- Three novels effectively tell the story of Burma's recent history. The link begins with Burmese Days, which chronicles the country's history under British colonialism. Not long after Burma became independent from Britain in 1948, a military dictator sealed off the country from the outside world, launched 'The Burmese Way to Socialism', and turned Burma into one of the poorest countries in Asia. The same story is told in Animal Farm. Finally in Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell's description of a horrifying and soulless dystopia paints a chillingly accurate picture of Burma today, a country ruled by one of the world's most brutal and tenacious dictatorships. In Burma there is a joke that Orwell wrote not just one novel about the country, but three: a trilogy comprised of Burmese Days, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.
- Emma Larkin, Finding George Orwell in Burma, (2006), p. 3.
- There was considerable missionary sympathy for Karen separatism, and not an insignificant part of the troubles that Burma had to face after her independence may justifiably be attributed to the favouritism with which the Christian elements among the Karens were treated by the West.
- K. M. Panikkar, Asia and Western Dominance: a survey of the Vasco Da Gama epoch of Asian history, 1498–1945. (1954)
- Myanmar is at a point of no return. The army's February coup, meant to surgically shift power within the existing constitutional framework, has instead unleashed a revolutionary energy that will be nearly impossible to contain. Over the past four months, protests and strikes have continued despite the killing of more than 800 people and the arrest of nearly 5,000 more. On April 1, elected members of parliament from Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), together with leaders from other political parties and organizations, declared a "national unity government" to challenge the authority of the recently established military junta. And through April and May, as fighting flared between the junta and ethnic minority armies, a new generation of pro-democracy fighters attacked military positions and administrative offices across the country. The junta could partially consolidate its rule over the coming year, but that would not lead to stability. Myanmar's pressing economic and social challenges are too complex, and the depth of animosity toward the military too great, for an isolated and anachronistic institution to manage. At the same time, the revolutionaries will not be able to deal a knockout blow anytime soon. As the stalemate continues, the economy will crumble, extreme poverty will skyrocket, the health-care system will collapse, and armed violence will intensify, sending waves of refugees into neighboring China, India, and Thailand. Myanmar will become a failed state, and new forces will appear to take advantage of that failure: to grow the country's multibillion-dollar-a-year methamphetamine business, to cut down the forests that are home to some of the world's most precious zones of biodiversity, and to expand wildlife-trafficking networks, including the very ones possibly responsible for the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in neighboring China. The pandemic itself will fester unabated. The task now is to shorten this period of state failure, protect the poorest and most vulnerable, and begin building a new state and a freer, fairer, and more prosperous society. A future peaceful Myanmar can only be based on both an entirely different conception of its national identity, free of the ethnonationalist narratives of the past, and a transformed political economy. The weight of history makes this the only acceptable outcome but also a herculean task to achieve. The alternative, however, is not dictatorship, which can no longer achieve stability, but rather ever-deepening state failure and the prospect of a violent, anarchic Myanmar at the heart of Asia for decades to come.
- Thant Myint-U. "Myanmar's Coming Revolution: What Will Emerge From Collapse?" Foreign Affairs, vol. 100, no. 4, July-Aug. 2021, pp. 132+
- Burma is rich in hardwoods and accounts for 75 percent of the world trade in teak. It is also the world’s second-largest producer of illegal opium (behind Afghanistan). Thanks to free education provided by Buddhist monks, Burma has a long history of literacy, particularly among boys and men. However, the military government has all but destroyed the nation’s intellectual tradition. In 2003–2004, only 1.3 percent of the national budget was devoted to education. Less than one-third of girls now complete primary school and the high school graduation rate for boys and girls has dropped to 2 percent. There is a saying in Burma that one must be wary of five evils: fire, water (storms and floods), thieves, mean people, and—government.
- David Wallechinsky, Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators, 2006