Myanmar

Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia. Formerly know as Burma, its name changed to Myanmar in 1989. China borders it on the north and northeast while on the east and southeast, it is bordered by Laos and Thailand. This is a country which is composed of 135 main races, of which some of the prime ones are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. The main language spoken in the country is Myanmar although English is also widely spoken and understood

Capital: Nay Pyi Taw
Population: 60,280,000
Currency: Kyat
Independence Day: January 4, 1948

  • Myanmar is very rich in natural resources like petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas and hydropower.
  • The Irrawaddy River in Myanmar is believed to be a symbol of ‘continuity’.
  • Myanmar, which has a total area of 678,500 square kilometers, is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, and the 40th-largest in the world. It is somewhat smaller than the U.S. state of Texas and slightly larger than Afghanistan.
  • The country has been plagued with rebels in various ethnic areas ever since its independence.
  • More than 20,000 people were killed and thousands were left homeless, in the May 2008 Nargis Typhoon, which destroyed villages and rice fields.
  • In 2006 the capital of Myanmar was moved from Yangon (formerly Rangoon) to Nay Pyi Taw.
  • Mandalay, the last capital of the Myanmar Kingdom is the cultural center of the country.
  • The lowest point in Myanmar is the Andaman Sea (0 m) and the highest point is Hkakabo Razi (5,881 m).
  • Myanmar depends on agriculture for more than half of its GDP.
  • The ethnic origins of Myanmar are a mixture of Indo-Aryans, who moved to the area in 700 BC.
  • Myanmar is endowed with a rich ecological diversity. Here, you will find about 100 bird species, 300 reptiles, 7000 species of plant life and 300 recorded mammal species.
  • Myanmar is mostly a Theravada Buddhist country. Here, you will also find other religions such as Hindus, Taoists, Muslims and Christians.
  • Myanmar people paint on a yellow paste that comes from a tree called Thanakha. It is used as a insect repellant, sunblock and make up. Usually only women and children wear Thanakha.
  • The situation for children in Myanmar is grave and appears to be worsening.  Families in both urban and rural areas have no choice but to resort to coping mechanisms that undermine children's protection, educational standards and health prospects.  Malnutrition is a growing problem that now affects one-third of children under the age of 5.  Myanmar is one of the few countries in the world where many children are likely to have worse education and health outcomes than their parents.
  • More than half of children in Myanmar do not complete five years of school. It is compulsory to attend primary school however over half drop out because it is too expensive.
  • One quarter of the population live below the subsistence level. One half of the population live below the poverty line(as defined by the World Bank)
  • Many children mainly under 5, but not restricted to, die from Pneumonia, malaria or diarrhoea. All these diseases are easily treated cheaply and are preventable

Myanmar Handicrafts

Panyun (the art of making lacquer ware)
Panyun is a highly respected handicraft. Panyun, lacquerware, are produced from knitted bamboo, wood and thick varnish. Very common finished products are bowl for monk, and container of pickle tea, lacquer vessel, drinking cup, betel box, and cheroot box. Myanmar traditional lacquerware are adorned with very interesting drawing styles derived from many stories of Buddha’s life.

Panyan (the art of bricklaying and masonry)
Panyan refers to troupe who constructs the buildings using bricks, stones and cement. The masons erect brick dwellings, stupas, bridges. Ancient pagodas and other religious structures from Bagan era are the biggest examples of Myanmar’s traditional masonry works. The Myanmar’s traditional masonry of Bagan period are of amazing strength, unbeatable grandeur beauty, immensity of volume, unbelievable detailed and appropriate decorations which in turn possesses the highest admiration of all the historical periods.

Panbu (the art of sculpture)
Panbu is the art of making sculptures of people, religious figures, animals and floral designs made of wood or ivory. Myanmar traditional sculpture emerged before the Bagan period. It based on the religion of Budhism which arrived from Southern India in the 11th century A.D. One outstanding wood sculpture of the Bagan period is the one at the old portal of Shwesigone pagoda at Nyaung U.

Lotus fibre weaving
Yellow Robes have been offered to the Lord Buddha in different seasons for many hundreds of years in Myanmar, where Theravada Buddhism flourishes, some of which are woven with yarn from the lotus. Weaving a lotus robe by extracting the yarn from Padonma lotus stalks demands great creativity, imagination and artistic skill. Kyaing Khan Village in Inle district is the place where this is done. Inle Lake, 2900 feet above sea level, is located in the southern part of Shan State. Many varieties of lotus flourish there but the yarn for the robe is taken from the Padonma Kyar (The Red Lotus). The stems are plucked in the months of May and June when they are abundant in the Lake. The fibres from 120,000 lotus' are needed to weave a set of robes. Nowadays, scarves are also woven.

Tapestries or Shwe-gyi-do
Myanmar traditional tapestries are velvet wall hangings embroidered with gold thread, silk and sequins. The hand-made materials are used and designs are based on traditional motif. The tapestries were solely for the use of royalty, nobility and monks in ancient times. The tapestries were used as screens, curtains, ceilings or wall hangings. Nowadays, the tapestries are used for clothes, shoes, flip-flops and other home decor items. Mandalay is famous for producing the Myanmar traditional tapestries (Shwe-gyi-do).