Myanmar (Republic of the Union of Myanmar - the former name Burma/Burma is still sometimes used in the media) is a country in Southeast Asia. To the southwest it borders the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Neighboring countries are Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand.

Myanmar was ruled by a military regime for years until it resigned in 2010 and handed the country over to a democratic government led by former activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

In Myanmar there are many ethnic groups that speak 100 languages and dialects alone. In addition to the Burmese, who make up two thirds of the total population, there are the Karen, Shan, Chin, Arakanese, Wa, Palaung, Mon, Kachin, Akha, Lahu, Naga, Intha. Some of these still consist of subgroups. 88% of Myanmar's residents are Theravada Buddhists. Due to the large number of ethnic groups, unrest continues to flare up in some regions. Many peoples want complete or partial independence. One example is the Karen in the border area with Thailand, who are fighting for their own state with a child army. But information about the current situation is rarely available. In the meantime, there is officially a ceasefire between the government and all rebel groups.

In 1989, as part of a prestigious government project, the country name as well as place and river names were renamed. To avoid confusion, only the new names are used here, as they are also common in the country. Some important examples:
Union of Burma → Union of Myanmar
Rangoon → Yangon
Akyab → Sittwe
Arakan → Rakhine

Large parts of the country are still closed to tourism. These include, for example, Chin State and large parts of Shan State. Some other locations are accessible, but there are various restrictions. Sometimes a special travel permit is necessary, sometimes you need a guide, sometimes the travel routes are predetermined. Some places can only be reached by plane or on a designated road. There are multiple reasons for that. On the one hand, it serves to protect the traveler (there are always robberies on the domestic route to Kengtung), and on the other hand, some regions are simply intended to remain hidden from the view of foreigners. However, the country's main tourist attractions can be visited without any concerns or problems. If you want to travel to other regions, you should contact local travel agencies (e.g. the state travel company MTT) and the relevant authorities for information.



Myanmar is divided into seven states and seven regions according to the 2008 constitution, as well as the independent capital district of Naypyidaw Union Territory. The states are regions that are home to regional minorities or ethnic groups, some of whom still want their own state. The regions, in turn, are administrative units that are predominantly home to the Burmese. Within Shan State and Sagaing Region, there are currently 6 self-administered zones (Self-Administered Zones and Self-Administered Divisions) of local minorities (Naga Self-Administered Zone, Danu Self-Administered Zone, Pa-O Self-Administered Zone, Pa Laung Self-Administered Zone). Administered Zone, Kokang Self-Administered Zone and Wa Self-Administered Division).

Ayeyarwady Delta
The country's rice bowl stretches along the branching delta of Myanmar's lifeline. The capital is the former capital and largest city of the country - Yangon.
Ayeyarwady Region · Bago Region · Yangon Region

Western Myanmar
In the west of the country there are only a few places where tourists come. The region is known for some absolutely dream beaches such as Ngapali Beach. The old royal capital of the Rakhine Empire, Mrauk U, is also very attractive. The border region with India and the Chin State are de-facto not visited by travelers. -Yangon.
Chin State · Rakhine State

Central Myanmar
The best-known and most fascinating destination in the region is certainly Bagan - a plain on the Ayeyarwady River with hundreds of temples and pagodas. A few hours' drive away is the sacred Mount Popa. -Yangon.
Magway Region · Mandalay Region · Naypyidaw

Northern Myanmar
The north of the country is also hardly visited by travelers. Many regions are still closed to tourism. The main destinations are the larger cities such as Mandalay, Bhamo, Myitkyina and Putao.
Kachin State · Sagaing Region

Eastern Myanmar
The east of the country is almost entirely occupied by Shan State, which is still fighting for autonomy. Due to a lack of security, it cannot be traveled without restrictions. It offers many interesting destinations, such as the unique Inle Lake, the caves of Pindaya and their mountainous surroundings all the way to Kalaw. You can also take a train ride to Lashio, which also takes you over the Gotheik Viaduct.
Kayah State · Shan State

Southern Myanmar
The south of the country can finally be traveled almost all the way through. One of the popular destinations is the pilgrimage site of Kyaikto with the Golden Rock, to which a pilgrimage route leads. Almost untouched beaches on the Dawei Peninsula. In the very south of the country you can find one of the last paradises on earth, the barely developed Mergui Archipelago.
Kayin State · Mon State · Tanintharyi Region



Yangon (Rangoon) - the former capital of Burma, the largest city in the country.
Mandalay is the "northern capital", a chaotic metropolis on the way to the ancient cities of Upper Burma.
Mawlamyine is the historic city sung by Kipling and the capital of Mon State.
Naypyidaw is the capital of the country.
Pyin-U-Lwin (Memyo) is a pleasant colonial town in the mountains with a cool climate.
Pegu (Bago) is the fourth largest city in the country, the ancient capital of the Mon state.


Other destinations

Pagan (Bagan) is the capital of the ancient kingdom, from which hundreds of pagodas remain.
Mrau-U is the ancient capital of the Arakan kingdom, located in the state of Rakhine.
Chaittiyo is a pagoda and the Golden Rock, a major pilgrimage site.
inle lake
Ngapali - a beach resort on the Bay of Bengal
Ngwe Saung - a beach resort on the Bay of Bengal


How to get there

There are international airports in Yangon and Mandalay. Land border crossings permitted for foreigners are Mae Sai - Tachileik on the northern border of Thailand and in the far south of Myanmar between Ranong and Kawthaung. Additional permits are required for land border crossings, which can be organized by Burmese travel agencies and knowledgeable Western tour operators. It is also possible to enter Mu-Se from China (Yunnan) by land, but leaving the same route is impossible.

Entry requirements
A passport valid for six months and a visa are required for entry.

The visa-on-arrival, which was introduced for a test phase and which Central Europeans could use, was suspended during the Corona crisis and, as of November 2023, reintroduced only for Indians and Chinese. It remains possible to apply for an electronic visa for tourist and business trips. This is available for most Europeans (not all for business trips and not the dwarf states, Liechtensteiners note!) It only applies to entry via the Rangoon, Nay Phi Taw and Mandalay airports as well as the land border at Kawthaung to/from Thailand. (As of: Nov 2023)

Alternatively, you can also apply for the visa at an embassy. Due to the strong demand after the opening of the country, visa processing can take weeks; there is no express processing. The Arrival Report Form must be carried with you when entering Myanmar.

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar, Thielallee 19, 14195 Berlin (Dahlem). Tel: + 49 30 20 61 570, Email: The embassy in Berlin is also responsible for Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands. Open: Application acceptance: Mon.-Fri. 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., pickup 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Price: Fees on the bottom: “New Types of Visa and Fees”.
For Switzerland: Myanmar Union auprès de l'ONU; consulat géneral, av. Blanc 47, 1202 Geneva, Tel.: +41 22 906-9870, Fax: +41 22 732-8919. Visa applications can be downloaded on the homepage.

Entry into Myanmar by plane is possible via the international airport in Yangon. The most commonly used connecting airports are Bangkok and Singapore. Mandalay is also served from the Chinese city of Kunming.

You can currently reach Myanmar with the following airlines (you can find the addresses of the airline offices in the city articles):
Air Asia (via Bangkok)
Bangkok Airways (via Bangkok)
Malaysia Airlines (via Kuala Lumpur)
Qatar Airways (via Doha)
Silk Air (via Singapore)
Thai Airways (via Bangkok)
China Eastern (Kunming ↔ Mandalay)
Vietnam Airline (via Ho Chi Minh City/Hanoi)

Entry and exit by land is not possible without further ado; a special permit is required. In principle, this is allowed at Tachilek in the east and Kawthoung in the south. From both cities, however, onward travel is only possible by plane; from Kawthoung north, you can also take the public ferry to Dawei.

Addition: With the opening of the road to Myeik, the Kawthaung-Myeik and Myeik-Dawei speed boat traffic was discontinued in 2016. In addition to the plane, you can now use bus connections. However, the travel time of the buses is significantly longer compared to the time it took the speed boat.

There is currently no international sea route to Myanmar.



For the most part, transport is cheap, but in comparison with other countries in Asia, it is extremely slow, and transport that is any fast is expensive. Finding a compromise between speed and price is not easy.

By plane
Among all modes of transport in Myanmar, only the plane cannot be called slow. In addition, planes are much more punctual than trains and buses, but also noticeably more expensive. The flight usually costs 80-120 USD, foreigners pay in dollars.

The state airline Myanmar National Airlines is considered not entirely safe, but on some exotic routes there are no alternatives to it - for example, no one else flies to Mawlamyine. If your route is not so specific, you can use some private carrier. There are several of them in the country, and they are almost identical in all respects. Air KBZ has the largest fleet, Golden Myanmar and Mann Yadanarpon have smaller aircraft. All these companies sell tickets through their websites, but you should not rely on the schedules published there, they are almost always outdated. You can search for flights for all carriers at once on the site, but you should not buy tickets there: the company has an ambiguous reputation, it is safer to buy a ticket on the website of the carrier itself.

Airlines fly on several major routes. Firstly, this is the obvious Yangon-Mandalay, which has direct flights every day, both in the morning and in the evening. Secondly, this is a circular route through the four main attractions of the country, Yangon - Nyaung-U (Pagan) - Mandalay - Heho (Inle Lake) - Yangon. There are also flights in the opposite direction. Thirdly, there are Yangon-Tandue flights with an intermediate stop, for example, in Nyaung-U. They are convenient to use to get from anywhere to Situe without returning to Yangon, although you will need a stop at the Ngapali resort. Finally, there are radial flights from Yangon or Mandalay towards the outskirts of the country with several intermediate stops, for example, Yangon - Thandue - Situe, Yangon - Tavoy - Myi - Kotaun, Mandalay - Myitkyina - Putao.

All of the above applies to the winter season (October to April). In summer, there are much fewer tourists, and the flight schedule changes according to the needs of local residents.

By train
Railways cover most of the places of interest to the traveler, except those in Rakhine State.

Train tickets are cheaper than any other transport: for example, a trip from Yangon to Mandalay in a sleeping car costs 12,750 MMK (less than 10 USD) for almost 600 km of travel, a first class ticket from Yangon to Mawlamyine costs 5,500 MMK (about 6 USD) for 300 km. This is where the advantages of Burmese trains generally end. Many lines have not seen reconstruction since colonial times, so the trains are slow and shaking a lot. The same 300 km to Molamyine are covered in 10 hours according to the schedule. In fact, the trip is likely to be longer, as the railways are not very punctual. On the main Yangon-Mandalay line, the train may well be an hour late, and on secondary lines, delays are sometimes measured in tens of hours. Nevertheless, once or twice a ride on the train is worth at least for the sake of sensations.

It is usually not necessary to buy tickets in advance. The exception is sleeping cars, for which there may no longer be tickets on the day of departure, and if demand is low, then the car itself can be canceled at the last moment.

It is most pleasant to travel by train between Yangon and Mandalay. This route is served by a comfortable night train with a sleeping car, departing at 17:00; it can hardly be called comfortable, but those who traveled in post-Soviet compartment cars (especially not in branded trains) will not be shocked. The line itself is in good condition for Myanmar; although after Pegu the train starts to shake noticeably (stronger than in Thailand), it will not throw you into the air. A new Chinese-made train with air cushioning runs on the same route, but it has only sit-down cars, although it spends most of the night on the road (departure at 15:00, arrival around 5 am). The trip from Yangon to Mandalay takes 14-15 hours, to Naypyidaw 8.5-9 hours, to Pegu (where you can transfer to trains towards Mawlamyine) a little less than 2 hours.

The railway from Mandalay to Shan State passes through the Goteik Viaduct, built in 1899, which offers a very spectacular view.

On the ship
There is quite a lot of passenger river transport in Myanmar, especially on the main Ayeyarwady River. Local residents use cheap ships of the state agency Inland Water Transport. Popular tourist routes are served by private "fast" boats, which are sometimes twice as fast as usual, but, as always in Myanmar, are disproportionately more expensive. However, even they will not be faster than the bus.

IWT tickets must be purchased no later than the day before departure, private traders may have other conditions. The hotel can help with both.



The main and official language is Burmese. There are also around 100 other languages and dialects. Burmese belongs to the Tibeto-Burmese language group. The font is mainly made up of circle segments. The origin of this script - like the Thai and Laotian ones - is southern India. As with other languages of Southeast Asia, the meaning of the words in Burmese depends on the intonation. Therefore, when learning the words, you should have a local speak them to you. Difficulties with pronunciation should not stop interested travelers from learning a few words. A 'Mingalabah!' for 'Hello' or 'Shisubeh!' for saying 'thank you' will quickly put a smile on the locals' faces. The syllable Shwe- is very often found in the names. This is the Burmese word for gold.

All Myanmar people who come into contact with tourists can speak English. So it's not a problem to communicate. In areas less frequented by tourists, such as In Sittwe and Mrauk U, for example, there is sometimes only a small basic vocabulary, so communication can sometimes be difficult in the hotel. But that shouldn't stop anyone from traveling to these areas. For more information, see our Burmese phrasebook



The currency used in Myanmar is the Kyat. In July 2023 there were almost 2,300 kyat for one euro. There are only banknotes in circulation, usually you get 1,000 Kyat notes, 5,000 Kyat or even 10,000 Kyat notes. 20,000 were first introduced in mid-2023. This can result in having to pack a large pile of money in your luggage. The central bank publishes the official exchange rate on a daily basis.

There are ATMs everywhere. These are numerous throughout the country. Even in temples you can find one or two machines. If you are traveling to remote areas, it is advisable to withdraw enough Kyat in the city beforehand. The fee for using the ATMs will be charged to the account at $5 per transaction. Most tourists no longer need dollars. Many hotels list prices in both dollars and kyat and provide an internal hotel conversion rate, which is usually the same as the current rate. If this is not the case, you can save $1-2 per night if you pay in the correct currency. Only the boat between Mandalay and Bagan can only be paid for in dollars. However, you can also exchange Kyat for dollars or take the bus.

Tourists still use the dollar to pay for expensive hotels. However, payment can often also be made by credit card. More and more stores offer credit card payments. Even in the middle of Inle Lake you can buy a lotus cloth with Mastercard. The exchange rate at banks is the same throughout Myanmar, so you can exchange directly at the airport without any loss (always take your passport with you). The rate on the black market is now no longer significantly better than the official rate. In Yangon, bartering is possible at the Scott Market (Bogyoke Aung San Market) and at the Sule Pagoda. Most of the time you will already be spoken to there. However, there are reports of tourists being scammed while bartering on the 'black market'.

When exchanging at the hotel you lose around 10% compared to the official rate. You should have enough dollars in cash for your vacation. That's why you should find out more about your financial planning in appropriate internet forums before your trip. Euros can now be used for exchange in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan, but unlike the dollar you cannot pay with euros.

The dollar bills must be in mint condition. Notes that are stamped, written on, folded or even slightly torn will not be accepted. To transport the banknotes, it is best to use two strips of cardboard the same size as the banknotes into which you put the notes. New dollars can be ordered in every bank in Europe. 100 dollar notes are more popular on the black market and have a better exchange rate, but this doesn't matter at banks. US dollars with a release date before 1996 and serial numbers with CB and AB will not be accepted.



There are a number of curries in Myanmar that vary from region to region. For example, the curries in Rakhine State are significantly spicier than in the rest of the country. In Rakhine, chopsticks are also used, while in other areas people eat by hand or with a spoon and fork. Mohinga soup is an all-rounder. It can be eaten at any time of the day without a specific recipe. Some hotels and guesthouses also offer them as an alternative to the rather boring continental breakfast, which is usually included with the overnight stay. This always consists of toast, butter, jam and two eggs.



As a result of the country's isolation and the country's few tourists, there is not much going on in Myanmar other than cultural and recreational opportunities. The Myanmar people themselves tend to go to bed early. The upper-class hotels have clubs that stay open late and offer live music and dancing.



Every major town in the areas that are open to tourists offers accommodations geared towards the western tourist. Due to the sharp increase in tourist numbers since 2012, accommodation is no longer so easy to find, and it is therefore advisable to book hotels before departure in the high season (November to mid-January). The prices for accommodation have also risen sharply since then, roughly comparable to Thailand. In the luxury segment, Myanmar is more expensive than Thailand.

Simple accommodations usually have a fan, but for rooms with air conditioning you have to pay a significant surcharge. In Myanmar, the power supply is irregular; at night the power goes out completely, and of course the air conditioning doesn't work either. Better hotels usually have their own emergency power supply. If you value this, you should ask about it before checking in. However, you cannot specify a price level at which this service is available; As a rough guide you can perhaps say US$20-25. In principle, one can assume that the price level in the remote areas is slightly higher.



There are travel warnings from the Foreign Office for parts of Myanmar (Kachin State and northern Shan State), where there are armed conflicts between rebel armies and the Myanmar military. Likewise, there are armed rebel groups in parts of Chin State and Sagaing Region, parts of Shan, Mon, Kayin, Karen and Kayah States.

If you avoid these areas, the stay for tourists is quite safe.

In the areas that are freely accessible to tourists, you can usually move around freely without any safety concerns. Women traveling alone also need to have little concern. As always on vacation, you should always keep an eye on your possessions. A major security risk is the global threat of terrorism and possible outbreaks of internal unrest. There were bomb attacks in Mandalay and Yangon on April 26, 2005 and May 7, 2012. Any possible impact on tourism can hardly be estimated due to the country's sparse information policy. You should therefore find out about the current situation before traveling.

Foreign Office - You can find the latest official information here.
The Irrawaddy - Independent newspaper focused on Myanmar
Bangkok Post - Here you can find news about what is happening in Southeast Asia
Earthquakes continue to occur in parts of Myanmar. The last time this was the case was on November 11, 2012. Most of the time, the epicenters are not close to tourist areas, so there has been no major damage there so far. Cyclones can occur on the Andamen Sea coast from May to October.



When it comes to health, there are of course a few things to consider. Hepatitis vaccination is necessary. Vaccination against typhus is also recommended. In some forums you can also find advice and recommendations to vaccinate against rabies and Japanese encephalitis. In any case, you should consult a doctor before departure to discuss the necessary precautions. Further information can be found under tropical diseases.

Malaria. Prophylaxis is generally not recommended. The usual preventative measures against mosquito bites (long, light-colored clothing; mosquito spray, mosquito net) are important. As an emergency measure, every tourist should have a current malaria preparation with an active ingredient composition recommended for Myanmar. Some parts of the country where the tourist passes are malaria-free due to geographical and climatic conditions. In contrast, the coastal region is very at risk of malaria (e.g. Ngapali Beach).
Dengue. The best way to protect yourself is with mosquito repellent and long clothing; there is no vaccination or prophylaxis.
Medical care in Myanmar cannot be compared to Europe in terms of technology, equipment and hygiene. Most doctors speak English and short treatments cost around $10 to $20.

If you have complicated symptoms, you may want to consider a short trip to Bangkok. There you will find lots of doctors who also speak foreign languages.

Further websites:
Robert Koch Institute
World Health Organization
Fit For Travel


Rules and respect

Even though Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in the world, a well-groomed appearance is important. That's why almost all men wear a well-groomed shirt - in addition to the wrap skirt (longyi), which is unusual for Europeans. Therefore, tourists should also pay attention to a few things. Knees and shoulders should always be covered. Swimwear only belongs on the beach and the hotel pool. There are also some rules of conduct that need to be observed. Unlike some other countries in Southeast Asia, the government has isolated the population from the outside world for decades. Nobody in this country is used to mass tourism. You should therefore approach people with humility and reserve. By raising your voice or even outbursts of anger, you lose face in the eyes of a Myanmar person. A large portion of serenity to compensate for shortcomings is a must-have for any Myanmar tourist. In contrast to Europe, hugs and tenderness between couples are impossible in public. Shaking hands as a greeting is not popular. The head is considered a particularly sacred part of the body. So you never touch a child's head without a special reason. In principle, shoes must be taken off in front of pagodas and temples. For appointments or invitations, e.g. B. a family celebration such as the son's entry into a monastery, one can assume that these are meant seriously!

Reforms since 2011 have made the country more open. This means you can now safely photograph Aung San Suu Kyi's house or posters, which was previously not possible.

Further website:
30 Do's and Don'ts in Myanmar



Internet: There is internet access in almost all hotels, and some also have WiFi. But these are not very fast. A better connection can be found in the internet cafes, which can be found at least in the places visited by tourists. The costs here are 500 - 1000 MYK per hour. It may happen that international websites cannot be accessed in the Internet cafes. Then the proxy on the computer has to be changed, which the employees in the internet cafes can easily do. Smartphones or tablets can easily be used as end devices in the Wi-Fi hotspots available in hotels.
Mobile networks There are currently three mobile operators available Ooredoo, Telenor and the state-owned MPT. You can buy SIM cards in many places, but it is advisable to ask politely at the hotel reception. Topup credit is available from 1000Ks to 20,000Ks, in small shops usually only up to 5000Ks. At Mpt, 10,000Ks is about 5 days of surfing and making calls. Network expansion: Good network coverage in Yangon and on the highways, often no network in rural areas. The expansion is being pushed forward strongly by all providers.
Telephone: The telephone network can also only be used to a limited extent. It is not always possible to call from every place to every place in Myanmar. This is due to the partly differently developed local networks. It is usually possible to make a call home from the hotel reception or hotel room. The cost is approximately US$6 to US$8 per minute. There are no public telephone booths. A mobile phone network exists in Myanmar, but roaming is not available. However, you can buy prepaid cards. These cost $20. This is enough for a 15 minute call to Europe.
Post: The post is still very unreliable in Myanmar. Arrival of holiday mail cannot be guaranteed. A postcard costs 30 kyat. It is best to hand the card in person at the post office or ask at the hotel reception.
DHL Worldwide Express, 7A, Kaba Aye Paya Str., Yangon. Tel: +95-1-664423



Until 1948

In the 11th century, King Anawrahta founded the first Burmese empire. In the 19th century, after several wars, Burma fell under British rule and became part of British India on January 1, 1886. The last king of Burma and his family were sent into exile in India by the British occupation, where he also died.

In 1923, Burma was still a province of India and under British rule. Men and women who paid taxes were given the right to vote. However, passive women's suffrage was not granted. Since only men were required to pay a poll tax, there were many more taxpayers than female taxpayers, so in practice women were still prevented from voting. At that time there were only 125,000 female voters for every two million voters. In 1927 there was a proposal in the Legislative Assembly that also wanted to introduce passive suffrage for women; but the British rejected them. This led to resentment among women and a demonstration in Ragoon. However, the restrictions on active voting rights were lifted in 1929 and passive women's suffrage was achieved on the same basis as passive men's suffrage. The link to paying taxes was also eliminated. Despite this, there were very few women on local councils and the legislative assembly. When the Government of Burma Act came into force in 1935, Burma's time as a province of India ended. Although still under British rule, it now had its own legislative body. For this House of Representatives, women now had the right to vote if they had passed a reading and writing test. In this way, the number of women voters rose to 750,000. This constitution was abolished when Japan occupied the country in 1942. After the British re-occupied the country after the end of the war and gave it independence in 1948, women were given universal suffrage.


From independence in 1948

Since independence, armed conflicts have continued in various parts of the country, where ethnic minorities have violently fought for greater autonomy or independence. After a brief democratic phase until 1962, Burma was controlled by various military regimes.

From 1961 to 1971, the Burmese politician Maha Thray Sithu U Thant was the third Secretary-General of the United Nations. When unrest broke out in Yangon over the Ne Win government's refusal to give him a state funeral, it was violently suppressed.

On October 18, 1965, the Revolutionary Council passed a law nationalizing all commercial enterprises. A little later, all Christian missionaries were expelled at the end of 1966.

On August 8, 1988, months of unrest (8888 Uprising) over the economic policies of the military led by General Ne Win culminated in the violent suppression of protests in the capital Rangoon, with several thousand dead. A new military regime under General Saw Maung established itself as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).

In 1989 the country was renamed Myanmar. When the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) won a clear victory in democratic elections in 1990, the elections were declared invalid by the military regime and there was a bloody crackdown on peaceful student protests. The regime remained in power.


2000s and 2010s

In November 2005, the government began moving the seat of government from Yangon to Naypyidaw, near the city of Pyinmana (Mandalay Region). The official justification for the move was the central location of the new administrative capital compared to Rangoon. Unofficial speculation ranged from the fear of a foreign invasion from the sea to the influence of astrologers on the military rulers to the isolation of the regime for fear of possible new popular uprisings.

The ASEAN states also appeared in the ranks of critics of the regime for the first time in December 2005. As early as March 2005, Myanmar had renounced the rotating assumption of the annually changing chairmanship within ASEAN in favor of the Philippines. A draft resolution introduced by the USA in the Security Council, which was supposed to call on the military regime to respect human rights and to release all political prisoners, was rejected in January 2007 with the votes of the veto powers People's Republic of China and Russia.

The “road map” for the path to democracy announced in August 2003 by then Prime Minister Khin Nyunt began with the reconvening of the National Assembly to draft a new constitution. After almost ten months of deliberations between May 17, 2004 and September 3, 2007, the chairman of the commission for convening the National Assembly, Lieutenant General Thein Sein, declared that a new constitution had been agreed upon, which would be a first step towards the democratization of the country represent. However, he did not give a date for a referendum on the draft constitution or for free parliamentary elections.

On August 15, 2007, all fuel subsidies were eliminated. The resulting increase in prices for liquid fuel and gas by up to 500 percent was the impetus for protest demonstrations that spread across the entire country by the end of September. They were violently suppressed on September 26th. According to various reports, between ten and several thousand monks and demonstrators were killed.

In February 2008, the military junta called for a referendum on the new constitution in May 2008. According to the schedule, democratic elections should take place in 2010.

On the night of May 3, 2008, parts of the country were devastated by Tropical Storm Nargis. According to UN estimates from May 9, 63,000 to 101,000 people died and around a million were left homeless. According to government figures from June 24, 84,537 people died and 53,836 are missing. The military junta denied aid workers access to the Irrawaddy River Delta and confiscated aid shipments from abroad.

Despite the disaster, the regime carried out the constitutional referendum on May 10, 2008 as planned. Only in the most severely affected areas was the date postponed by two weeks. After massive voter fraud and intimidation, the military finally announced 92.48 percent approval of the new constitution among the eligible voters.

On November 7, 2010, the first elections since 1990 were held, after which on February 4, 2011, the previous Prime Minister Thein Sein was appointed Myanmar's first president since 1988; this is a general close to Than Shwe. While the 2010 parliamentary elections were boycotted by the NLD, the leading opposition party took part in parliamentary elections on April 1, 2012 for the first time since 1990. In the by-elections, 45 of the 664 seats in the People's Assembly were newly allocated. The opposition won 43 of these 45 seats with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

In 2016, Aung San Suu Kyi's party took over the government. After a year, Der Spiegel found that she was mostly silent and interpreted it as Kyi's hope for a constitutional change, which the military could prevent if it acted too forcefully with its representatives. Although there was a little more money for education and health, since October 2016 the military has been taking action against the population in Rakhine State.

In the fall of 2017, the NZZ said that the relationship between the powerful military and the government was almost like a pact that had been made, and at the beginning of 2018, the SRF correspondent said that it seemed as if the announced reconciliation would affect less the people, but rather it would have “reconciled Aung San Suu Kyi with the military.”


2020s: military coup and civil war

According to official information, Suu Kyi's NLD party achieved an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections in November 2020, with voter turnout said to have been over 70 percent. The European Union viewed the election as free and fair, despite the structural democratic deficits. The army, for which a quarter of the seats in the parliamentary chambers are automatically reserved, spoke of electoral fraud. On the morning of February 1, 2021, the military under Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing launched a coup following continued criticism of the election results. Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior NLD members were arrested. The military also declared a state of emergency. Military television announced that it wanted to take control for a year. The action was justified by election fraud.

This resulted in mass protests and political repression. In July 2022, people were executed for the first time since the 1980s. Those executed were Zayar Thaw, Kyaw Min Yu and Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.

The military's takeover led to resistance from the People's Defense Force and various ethnic militias, which attacked Myanmar's armed forces and gained control of large parts of the country. The civil war led to a humanitarian crisis in the country and an economic crisis. In counterinsurgency, the military junta committed war crimes such as the Pazigyi massacre in April 2023.




Myanmar borders the People's Republic of China to the north and east, Laos and Thailand further south to the east and the Indian Ocean to the south. The southernmost part of Myanmar is on the Malay Peninsula. The Andaman Sea separates Myanmar from the western Indian islands of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. To the west, Myanmar borders the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh and the Indian states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.



To the north lies the Kachin Mountains, a southern extension of the Himalayas, and on the Myanmar-India-China border lies the Hkakabo Razi. At 5881 m, it is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. Marsh areas stretch along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, behind which lies the Arakan-Joma Mountains with mountains up to 3000 m high, which continue further north along the border with India in the Patkai Mountains. In the east of the country lies the Shan Highlands with elevations of up to 2500 m. In the middle of the country, along the Irrawaddy, lies central Myanmar with its fertile soils. The most important rivers besides the Irrawaddy are Thanlwin, Sittaung, Chindwin and Mekong.

40% of the area is covered by primary forest, with the forest area decreasing by 1.2% annually. Off the west coast of the Malay Peninsula lies a sunken mountain landscape, the Mergui Archipelago with around 800 islands, a group of islands that is still largely untouched.



With the exception of the extreme north, Myanmar is within the influence of the Indian monsoon. Due to the relief, the characteristics of the monsoon vary in the individual parts of the country.

Essentially three seasons can be distinguished:
Rainy season from late May to mid-October
cool season from the end of November to the end of February
hot season in the months March to May




Myanmar had a population of 53.4 million in 2020. Annual population growth was +0.7%. A surplus of births (birth rate: 17.4 per 1000 inhabitants vs. death rate: 8.8 per 1000 inhabitants) contributed to population growth. The number of births per woman in 2020 was statistically 2.2, that of the South Asia region was 2.3. The median age of the population was 28.8 years in 2020. In 2020, 25.1 percent of the population was under 15 years old, while the proportion of those over 64 years old was 6.5 percent of the population.


Population structure

At the last census in 2014, Myanmar had 51,486,253 inhabitants, divided into the following ethnic groups: Bamar 69 percent, Shan 8.5 percent, Christian Karen 6.2 percent, Muslim Rohingya 4.5 percent, Mon 2.4 percent, Chin 2.2 percent, Kachin 1.4 percent, Indian 1 percent, Han 1-2 percent. In total, there are around a million resettled people in their own country. At just 0.1% of the population, the foreign population is one of the lowest in the world.

The Shan, the second largest ethnic group, live mainly in the country's Shan State, in areas above around 1000 meters altitude. The Karen are predominantly Christians. The Padaung belong to the Mon-Khmer language group and live in southern Kachin and Shan States.

Around 730,000 Arakanese live mainly in Rakhine State. Other sources even give their share of the total population at 4%. The Muslim Rohingya, who are denied status as an ethnic group, also live in Rakhine State. The Rohingya are not recognized by the state as an ethnic group, are not granted Myanmar citizenship and are considered “the most persecuted minority in the world” according to the United Nations. They speak an Indo-European language closely related to Bengali. Many of them fled to Bangladesh due to massive persecution.

The individual peoples speak their own languages, English is the language of trade. The official language is the Burmese language.




Shares of religions in the population:
Buddhism: according to official information 87.9%
Christianity: 6.2% (mostly supporters of Protestantism and around 1% of the Catholic Church)
Islam: 4.3%
Hinduism: 0.5%
Animism: officially 0.8%, but dominant among Buddhists

The most widespread religion in Myanmar is Buddhism. Some of the most famous Buddhist artworks (statues) in Asia are located here. The predominant one is the early Buddhist Theravada school, which also had a significant influence on the reception of Buddhism in the West in the 20th century. Many of the standard works on Vipassana meditation (for example Nyanaponika: “Mind training through mindfulness”) are based on the teachings of Burmese Dharma masters such as Mahasi Sayadaw, Chanmyay Sayadaw U Janaka, Ledi Sayadaw or Sayadaw U Pandita. The most important shrines include the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the Golden Rock southeast of Bago and Mount Popa near Bagan.

In the Buddhist folk religion, the spirit belief in the Nats is widespread. Nats have human traits, feelings, wants and needs, are good, helpful or evil and spiteful, but above all powerful. If angered, they can bring great harm. During the festivals dedicated to them, they are embodied in trance and dance by Nat-Gadaw, female mediums (often transvestites). Among the lower Nats, the connection to animistic ideas is clear, because they live in or near old trees or stones, on mountains or by rivers. They often have non-human shapes. The nat shrines (nat-sin) built on trees, fields, water bodies or in villages are similar to the spirit houses (san phra phum) in Thailand.

According to official information, 4% of the population is Christian, especially in the Chin and Karen ethnic groups, who are to be systematically expelled according to a government program “to destroy the Christian religion in Myanmar” that became known in 2007.

The Rohingya are primarily followers of Islam.



The country's healthcare spending amounted to 4.7% of gross domestic product in 2019. In 2017, there were 8.6 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants practicing in Myanmar. Mortality among under-5s was 43.7 per 1,000 live births in 2020.

For several years, Myanmar has been one of the countries with a particularly high AIDS growth rate, which the junta long denied was making the problem worse. The main causes are prostitution, especially in Rangoon, and widespread, traditional drug addiction, which is exacerbated by the social disruption caused by decades of civil war. Significant progress has been made in feeding the population. While 48.1% of the population was undernourished in 2000, in 2015 the figure was 16.9%.

The life expectancy of Myanmar residents from birth was 67.4 years in 2020 (women: 70.3, men: 64.3).



The literacy rate was an estimated 75.6% in 2016. The education sector has shrunk particularly sharply under the military regime in Myanmar, which has a strong educational tradition. Several universities were temporarily or completely closed, mainly due to fears of student uprisings and criticism from an intellectual elite. There is no freedom to learn or a free choice of subjects, but it is possible to study certain subjects via distance learning courses. The distribution of books in the university sector is also very limited; for example, a medical student cannot borrow history books. In 2015, 93.1% of the population could read and write. In recent years, the level of education has increased and the average length of school attendance for people over 25 has increased from 2.4 years in 1990 to 4.7 years in 2015. In 2021, the school attendance expectancy of the current generation was 10.9 years.



The Anglo-American measurement system was officially in effect in Myanmar until 2013, and is otherwise only used by the USA and Liberia. The transition to the metric system was decided in 2013.