Burma, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. One-third of Burma's total perimeter of 1,930 kilometres (1,200 mi) forms an uninterrupted coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. At 676,578 km2 (261,227 sq mi), it is the 40th largest country in the world and the second largest country in Southeast Asia. Burma is also the 24th most populous country in the world with over 58.8 million people.
Burma is home to some of the early civilizations of Southeast Asia including the Pyu and the Mon. In the 9th century, the Burmans of the Kingdom of Nanzhao, entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in 1057, the language and culture of these peoples slowly became dominant in the country. Sometime during this period, Buddhism became the predominant religion of the country. Following the Mongol invasion of Burma in 1287, the kingdom of Pagan fell and a period of control by several warring states emerged. In the second half of the 16th century, the country was reunified by the TaungooDynasty which, for a brief period of time, was the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia. The 18th century Konbaung Dynasty ruled over an area that includes modern Burma as well as Manipur in India. In the 19th century, following three Anglo-Burmese Wars, Burma was colonized by Britain.
British rule brought social, economic, cultural and administrative changes to the once-feudal society. Since independence in 1948, the country has been in one of the longest running civil wars among the country's myriad ethnic groups that remains unresolved. From 1962 to 2011, the country was under military rule. The military junta was dissolved in 2011 following a general election in 2010 and a civilian government installed.
Burma is a resource rich country. However, since the reformations of 1962, the Burmese economy has become one of the least developed in the world. Burma’s GDP stands at $42.953 billion and grows at an average rate of 2.9% annually – the lowest rate of economic growth in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Among others, the EU, United States and Canada have imposed economic sanctions on Burma. Burma's health care system is one of the worst in the world: The World Health Organization ranked Burma at 190th, the worst performing of all countries.
The United Nations and several other organizations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country, including child labour, human trafficking and a lack of freedom of speech.
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