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 indepoendence 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.


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Created: 11:55 PM 1/6/2010
Last updated: 1:43 AM 6/10/2012