Burma/Myanmar


Figure 1.--Here a missionary kid in Myanmar is playing chinlong with his mates. Chinlong is a local sport. Notice the ratan ball. Balls like this are also used in Thai sports. Rubber now grown in Southeast Asia was introduced by the British during the colonial era.

Burma on the Bay of Bengal east of India and Bangladesh is one of the principal Southeatern Asian countries. It was one of powers that competed for dominance in the region. The country is dominated by the Irrawaddy River,one of the world's great river systems. The Irrawaddy rises in the eastern Himilayas in the north. The Irrawaddy and its tributaries created a huge area suitable for rice agriculture. This was the basis of the economy, but the country is also rich in natural resources including oil and minerals. The Burmese moved south into the Irawwaddy Valley from Tibet (about the 8th century AD). Anawratha introduced Hinayana Buddhism (11th century). Buddhism continues to be the principal religion to this day. The population is also composed of several minority ethnic groups. Two of the most important are the Chinese and Karen. The Karen comprise about 7 percent of Burma's population. Other etnic groups include the Chins, Mons, Nagas, and Shans. One interesting tribal group is the Moken, a seafaring people. The country was annexed piecemeal by the British (19th century). It was a major battleground of World War II. The country along with India was granted independence (1948). It is, however, one of several European colonies which have declined economically since independence. Burma with its productive agricultural base is potentially one of the richest countries in the region. In contrast to neigboring Thailand, Burmese authorities at independence decided to pursue socialist and isolationis policies. The result was rather than imprioving the economy, the econmy declkined. The country is currently ruled by a brutal military regime which has supressed a popular democracy movement. As a result of coruption and incompetence, the military has reduced most Burmese to poverty.

Geography

Burma on the Bay of Bengal east of India and Bangladesh is one of the principal Southeatern Asian countries. The country is dominated by the Irrawaddy River,one of the world's great river systems. The Irrawaddy rises in the eastern Himilayas in the north. The Irrawaddy and its tributaries created a huge area suitable for rice agriculture. This was the basis of the economy, but the country is also rich in natural resources including oil and minerals.

History

It was one of powers that competed for dominance in the region. The Burmese moved south into the Irawwaddy Valley from Tibet (about the 8th century AD). Anawratha introduced Hinayana Buddhism (11th century). The country was annexed piecemeal by the British (19th century). It was a major battleground of World War II. The country along with India was granted independence (1948). It is, however, one of several European colonies which have declined economically since independence.

Economics

In contrast to neigboring Thailand, Burmese authorities at independence decided to pursue socialist and isolationis policies. The result was rather than imprioving the economy, the econmy declkined. The country is currently ruled by a brutal military regime which has supressed a popular democracy movement. As a result of coruption and incompetence, the military has reduced most Burmese to poverty.

Religion

Buddhism continues to be the principal religion to this day. Myanmar has a population of about 55 million pople. Some of 90 percent of the population adhere to Theravada Buddhism. The remaining 10 percent are Christians (4 percent), Muslims (4 percent), and Hindus (1 percent). The Christains are mostly Baptists and Roman Catholics. There are also small numbers of adherents to Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism and Animism. There are ehnic afinities associated with religion. Most Muslims are located in Rakhine State, along the western coast, and many are member of the Rohingya minority group. While Christianity and Islam have grown in importance in recent years, Buddhism remains the dominant religion. The Burmese view religion somewhat differently that Westerners. They see Buddhism as a path to follow rather than a faith in the Western sense. Buddhism was founded in India (about 500 BC). An Indian prince named Siddhartha Gautama left the prestigious life to wander as begger seeking enligtenment. His meditation enanled him to eeach a state free from worldly desires. Theravada Buddhism holds four noble truths which include suffering. Buddhism teaches love and kindness for one another. It advocates avoiding extremes and performing good deeds. Buddhism like Hinduism believes in reincarnation and considers that the present actions will affect future lifes orreincarnations. Buddhism also advoctes protecting the environment as it sees nature as sacred. This seens incorprated from the animistic beliefs of pre-Buddist peoples. Myanmar has been ruled of repressive authoritarian military regimes (since 1962). has not existed, after the bloody suppression of the 8888 Uprising. A militry Government suspended the 1974 Socialist constitution (1988). This meant that there has been no constitutional protection of religious freedom. The military authorities, however, have generally permitted most devotees of registered religious groups to worship as they choose as long as tere is no political connections. The government has imposed restrictions on certain religious activities and has been accused of abusing the right to freedom of religion. Yhe principl target has been the country's Muslim minority--the Rohingya . This has been the group expriencing the most severe legal, economic, educational, and social discrimination. The Government refuses to grant citizenship to Rohingyas because they insist the Rohingya were mot present in the country at the start of British colonial rule as mndatedin the country's citizenship law. The Rohingya assert that their presence in the area predates the British arrival by several centuries.

Etnicity

The population is also composed of several minority ethnic groups. Two of the most important are the Chinese and Karen. The Karen comprise about 7 percent of Burma's population. Other ethnic groups include the Chins, Mons, Nagas, and Shans. One interesting tribal group is the Moken, a seafaring people. Burma with its productive agricultural base is potentially one of the richest countries in the region.







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Created: 11:55 PM 1/6/2010
Last updated: 1:37 AM 1/23/2018