Fast Facts about the Country / Region
Myanmar (once known as Burma) is the largest country (with a total area of 678,500 km²) in mainland Southeast Asia. Located between Bangladesh and Thailand, with China to the north and India to the north-west, Myanmar’s coastline includes both the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The estimated population of Myanmar for 2008 is approximately 50 million.
Visitors to Myanmar can ski to their hearts’ content in the snowy mountains of Hkaka Borazi (highest mountain range in Asia), enjoy breathtaking vistas from a slow riverboat ride along the Ayeyarwady River, and wet their feet in incredibly warm waters of the thousand islands of the Mergui Archipelago. Almost half of the country is still unspoiled woodland. A traveler can find many ancient pagodas nestled within the natural sanctuaries which promote spirituality and reflection.
Exploring the heavenly villages in the lush green valleys and hills exposes visitors to some of Myanmar’s over 137 ethnic groups still practicing traditional ways of life that date back hundreds of years. The dominant ethnic group is the Bamar who speak Burmese. 10% of the population is Shan, who speak Shan dialects related to Lao and Thai. The Karen makes up 7% of the population, and speaks languages distantly related to Burmese. Other main ethnic groups are Rakhine, Kachin, Kayah, Chin, and Mon.