ECONOMY: AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK, FISHERIES AND FORESTS
Agriculture, which occupies more than two thirds of the active population, can benefit from very fertile soils in the alluvial plains. Although there has been an improvement in irrigation systems and a more extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers, it remains poorly mechanized and based on traditional techniques. According to Cheeroutdoor, the greatest wealth of Myanmar has always been rice (of which it is the seventh world producer), which alone occupies more than half of the entire cultivated area and employs 65% of the entire workforce in the agricultural sector; in mountainous areas and generally in drier and non-irrigable areas, wheat, corn and millet are more common. Other products that have registered considerable productions are: potatoes, onions, dried beans; tea production is also important. Finally, among the industrial plants, the main productions concern sesame and peanuts, sugar cane, cotton, jute and tobacco. In the eastern regions of the interior, near the border with Laos and Thailand, opium poppy is widely cultivated in a clandestine way, which makes the area belonging to the so-called “Golden Triangle” (between Myanmar, Laos and Thailand), one of the leading suppliers of international drug trafficking. Livestock farming is a complementary activity of agriculture, which employs cattle and buffaloes in the work of the fields; traditional farms are also those of pigs and poultry, the latter affected in the early 2000s by avian, although the extent of the spread is not clear. However, considerable efforts have been made to improve the quality of the livestock: the use of the artificial insemination technique has been introduced and strict vaccination programs have been set up. A notable resource for local nutrition is provided by fishing, which is also very abundant in inland waters. Fishing, both sea and freshwater, is a sector with strong development potential, which was managed by a state-owned enterprise (Myanma Fisheries Enterprise), but the government, in 1994, decided to dissolve it and favor the development of this activity seeking the collaboration of private companies or cooperatives. The exploitation of the large expanses of forests that cover almost half of the Burmese territory guarantees a considerable share of exports, but the Indiscriminate licensing of forest exploitation to Thai industries has caused serious damage and since the early 1990s, the government has announced a reorganization of the sector, in favor of the public sector, as well as a massive reforestation program. Myanmar in particular ranks among the world’s leading producers of valuable timber such as teak; bamboo is widely used locally, abundant everywhere, while the coast of Tenasserim has significant plantations of Hevea.
CULTURE: GENERAL INFORMATION
Known as “the Golden Land”, Myanmar is famous all over the world especially for the extraordinary religious architecture that distinguishes it, with temples, palaces, pagodas, in many of which gold has been widely used for decorations, almost to further embellish these majestic buildings. Likewise, gold is also richly present in many accessories and complements used in the furnishings of the noblest houses. The religious element, in reality, permeates the entire cultural life of the country, and is found in the themes of traditional theater, in the figurative arts, in literature. Great is also the importance of music and dance, which within the performing arts they often contribute to the high degree of spectacle of theatrical performances. It is therefore no coincidence that in numerous popular stories there are references to the silhouette drawn by the borders of Myanmar as a figure that resembles that of a dancer in action. Festivities and solemnities take place throughout the year. Although it is not always easy to distinguish the sacred aspects from the profane ones present in the rites and during the many ceremonies, national holidays and numerous seasonal, propitiatory and thanksgiving festivals are added to religious recurrences, many of which derive from ancient animist practices. The most famous and important Festival is the Thingyan Water Festival, which takes place every year in April, coincides with the New Year and represents a sort of collective purification rite through water. Of considerable importance for the number of artists and for the disciplines and styles represented, is the Myanmar Traditional Performing Arts Competitions, review of music, song, dance and theatrical performances. Among the most representative museums the National Museum (1952), rich in artifacts and art objects that illustrate the different phases of the country’s history, and the Bagan Archaeological Museum (1904), in which, among other things, the stone tablets found in the region of the same name. Characteristic, even if of “negligible” historical-artistic value, the Museum of narcotics. In 2014, the site relating to the Ancient Pyu Cities was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.