Myanmar Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022

Basic information about the territory

Myanmar Basic Information

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

A military coup took place in Myanmar on 01/02/2021 and since then the country has not had an internationally recognized government. The army established the so-called State Administrative Council (SAC), headed by the main mastermind of the coup, the supreme commander of the military forces, Army General Min Aung Hlaing.

Initially, the SAC declared its interest in maintaining as much continuity as possible in the area of ​​economic policy, but it failed to achieve this goal. Especially in the second half of 2021, the regime’s new economic doctrine gradually crystallized, consisting of an emphasis on self-sufficiency, limiting foreign economic influences and strengthening the role of the state in managing economic activities. The new approach is not yet anchored in any comprehensive document, however, these tendencies can be fairly reliably abstracted from most of the steps and statements of regime representatives, as well as newly adopted legislation. Check equzhou to learn more about Burma political system.

Most of SAC’s appointed economic ministers are retired soldiers, but have held expert economic positions for many years and played roles in the initial reforms and opening up of Myanmar’s economy in 2011-2016. Minister of Planning and Finance Win Shein held the position of deputy in this ministry from 2011-2016, when, among other things, he negotiated the forgiveness of some foreign debts and participated in the reform of the financial system. Minister for Investments and External Economic Relations Naing Oo was a permanent secretary in the same ministry under the previous government (2016-2021), when he was involved in e.g. the new and expertly acclaimed special economic zone legislation. Central Bank Governor Than Nyein held the same position in 2007-2013, at which time he was, among other things, responsible for the transition of the local currency to a floating exchange rate.

Members of parliament, elected in the November 2020 elections, responded to the coup by creating a temporary structure – the Committee Representing the Union Parliament (Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, CRPH). This committee established a parallel National Unity Government (NUG) on 16/04/2021. The NUG seeks international recognition as the de jure government of Myanmar. In the economic field, the NUG is trying to prevent the military regime from accessing international financing and is seeking disposal rights to a part of Myanmar’s foreign exchange reserves deposited abroad, as well as the introduction of international sanctions, aimed primarily at the mining industry and energy.

The population responded to the coup with massive protests, which were suppressed with increasing brutality by the armed forces. A part of the protestors finally chose the form of armed resistance against the SAC, when people started to spontaneously form the so-called People’s Defense Forces (PDF), which, especially in rural areas, lead a guerilla fight against the SAC. There are approximately 450 individual PDFs operating in the country, which are only partially coordinated. A number of them formally recognize the NUG as the legitimate government in the country, however, the NUG’s control over the activities of specific PDF units is severely limited.

It is not certain how long the situation described above will last in the country. The initial estimates of a number of analysts that the situation will stabilize in a matter of months are apparently not coming true, and more and more experts are leaning towards the conclusion that Myanmar may remain under the rule of a military junta for several more years. The continued resistance of the population against the SAC and the escalating harshness of the repression by the armed forces further deteriorates the country’s security, with much of the country in the midst of an ongoing civil war.

Foreign policy of the country

The coup in the country and the military regime’s crackdown on the opposition caused a significant cooling of Myanmar’s relations with most of the international community. This is particularly evident in relation to the EU and its member states, the USA and other liberal democracies, which generally condemned the military coup and subsequent developments. These countries (including the Czech Republic) did not recognize the military regime as the legitimate government of the country and apply a number of sanctions against it. Check recipesinthebox for Burma defense and foreign policy.

Neighboring countries such as China, India and the ASEAN states take a more restrained approach towards the current Myanmar de facto government. Of the other major players, we can mention above all Russia, which has maintained good relations with the Myanmar army for a long time, supplies the country with military material and is one of the few countries that maintains and develops direct relations with the new military regime.

At the same time, the coup reversed a decade-long trend of Myanmar’s ever-increasing opening to the world, during which the country attracted a number of investments, developed trade ties with many countries, welcomed an increasing number of foreign tourists, joined a number of international organizations and gradually tried to adopt international norms and practices. The last significant manifestation of this trend can be considered the accession to the RCEP agreement in November 2020, which could have given the country the benefits of membership in the largest free trade zone in the world. However, given the country’s domestic political developments and collapsing national economy, Myanmar looks set to miss out on these opportunities for at least the next year or two.

Population

Myanmar is administratively divided into 7 states and 7 regions, other lower administrative units are districts, townships and wards.

States: Arakan (Rakhine), Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Shan.

Areas: Iravadi (Ayeyarwady), Makwei (Magway), Mandalay (Mandalay), Pegu (Bago), Rangoon (Yangon), Sakain (Sagaing), Tenaserim (Tanintharyi).

Capital: Neipyijto (Nay Pyi Taw).

Other cities: the metropolis of Rangoon has million inhabitants. The second largest city Mandalay (million), then Nay Pyi Taw (375 thousand), Taunggyi, Moulmein (Mawlamyine), Pegu (Bago), Myitkyina, Monywa, Basein (Pathein) and Pyay.

Myanmar is a multi-ethnic country. Officially (the government) there are 135 ethnicities. The majority are Burmese, while other ethnic groups make up around 30% of the population along with other smaller indigenous ethnicities. Among the most numerous are the Shan (Shan), Karen (Karen or Kayin), Rohingya, Arakanese (Arakanese or Rakhine), Kachin (Kachin), Chin (Chin) and Mon. Indians and Chinese, who are the largest non-indigenous groups, make up 5% of the population.

The dominant religion is Theravada Buddhism (according to the 2014 census, 89.9% of the population), other religions are Christianity (6.3%), Islam (2.3%), animism and Hinduism (0.5%). According to the results of the census published in August 2014, the country has 51,486,253 inhabitants (10,877,832 households), of which 24,824,586 are men and 26,661,667 are women. According to the Ministry of Population estimate from April 2020, the population is 54.58 million. 29.6% of the population lives in cities, the lowest proportion of the urban population is in the Makwei and Iravadi regions.

The area of ​​the country is 676,578 km2. The total population density is 76 people/km2, the highest population density is in the Rangoon area (716 inhabitants/km2), followed by Mandalay (200 inhabitants/km2), the lowest population density is in Chin State (13 inhabitants/km2) and Kachin State (19 inhabitants /km2).