Burma is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south. One-third of Burma's total perimeter of 1,930 kilometres (1,200 mi) forms an uninterrupted coastline. At 676,578 km2 (261,227 sq mi), Burma is the 40th largest country in the world and the second largest country in Southeast Asia. Burma is also the 24th most populous country in the world with over 58.8 million people.
Burma is home to some of the early civilizations of Southeast Asia including Pyu and Mon. In the 9th century, the Burmans of the Kingdom of Nanzhao, entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and established the Pagan Kingdom in 1057 and the language and culture of these peoples slowly became dominant in the country. Sometime during this period, Buddhism became the predominant religion of the country. Following the Mongol invasion of Burma in 1287, the kingdom of Pagan fell and a period of control by several warring states emerged. In the second half of the 16th century, the country was reunified by the Taungoo Dynasty which, for a brief period of time, was the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia. In the 18th century, the Konbaung Dynasty restored the kingdom, and went to war with all its neighbors. In the 19th century, following three Anglo-Burmese Wars, Burma was colonized by Britain.
The British rule brought several enduring social, economic, cultural and administrative changes that completely transformed the once-feudal society. Since independence in 1948, the country has been in one of the longest running civil wars among the country's myriad ethnic groups that remains unresolved. From 1962 to 2011, the country was under military rule and in the process has become one of the least developed nations in the world. The military junta finally dissolved in 2011 following a general election in 2010 and the subsequent inauguration of Burma's civilian government.
Burma is a resource rich country. However, since the reformations of 1962, the Burmese economy has become one of the least developed in the world. Burma’s GDP stands at $42.953 billion and grows at an average rate of 2.9% annually – the lowest rate of economic growth in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Among others, the EU, United States and Canada have imposed economic sanctions on Burma. Burma's health care system is one of the worst in the world: The World Health Organization ranked Burma at 190th, the worst performing of all countries.
The United Nations and several other organizations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country, including child labour, human trafficking and a lack of freedom of speech.
"Burma" is derived from the Burmese word "Bamar", which in turn is the colloquial form of Myanmar (or Mranma in old Burmese), both of which historically referred to the majority Burmans (or the Bamar). Depending on the register used the pronunciation would be "Bama" (pronounced [bəmà]), or "Myamah" (pronounced [mjəmà]). The name "Burma" has been in use in English since the time of British colonial rule.
In 1989, the military government officially changed the English translations of many colonial-era names, including the name of the country to "Myanmar". This prompted one scholar to coin the term "Myanmarification" to refer to the top-down programme of political and cultural reform in the context of which the renaming was done. The renaming remains a contested issue.
While most of the name changes are closer to their actual Burmese pronunciations, many opposition groups and countries continue to oppose their use in English because they recognise neither the legitimacy of the ruling military government nor its authority to rename the country or towns in English. Various non-Burman ethnic groups choose not to recognise the name because the term Myanmar has historically been used as a label for the majority ethnic group, the Bamar, rather than for the country.
Various world entities have chosen to accept or reject the name change. The United Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, endorsed the name change five days after its announcement by the government. However, governments of many countries including Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States still refer to the country as "Burma", with varying levels of recognition of the validity of the name change itself.
Others, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the governments of Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Brazil and the People's Republic of China recognise "Myanmar" as the official name.