Country of the World Burma

About the country Burma, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Burma is situated in Southeast Asia and includes the valleys of the Irrawaddy, Sittang, and Salween rivers and the west coast of the northern Malay Archipelago. Mountains, the highest of which reaches 19,000 ft., rim the country on the north, east, and west, while other ranges divide the major river valleys, which hold most of the population.

Size: 261,217 sq. mi. (676,552 sq. km.).

Population: 33.6 million.

Who Rules: After governing for 12 years without a national constitution, the ruling Burmese Socialist Program party of Pres. U Ne Win promulgated a new constitution. The cabinet, or Council of Ministers, is responsible to the 28-man Council of State, which in turn is responsible to the 451 deputies of the People's Assembly.

Who REALLY Rules: The Council of State, representative of the military forces that seized power in 1962, runs the national government. Pres. U Ne Win, former Burmese army chief of staff, dominates the Council of State. A highly emotional man, U Ne Win once lost his temper while playing golf and nearly beat his partner to death with a golf club. The Burmese Socialist Program party, the political organization of the military government, did not even accept new members until 1969.

The recognized national government does not really govern the entire country. The Union of Burma includes the Kachin, Shan, Kayah, Karen, and Chin autonomous states. Despite the presence of national officials, these regions essentially govern themselves, even maintaining their own armies.

To avoid manipulation by foreign missionaries--who have ties to several insurgent minority tribes--and academics. Burma bars such foreign visitors. And to prevent foreign culture from spoiling the country, the government limits tourists to one week, bans foreign movies (cinema being the dominant form of public entertainment), and suppresses Western music.

Westerners are shocked by this isolation policy, but urban Burma retains its peaceful charm. Rangoon has avoided most of the crime, congestion, and pollution which characterize other, westernized Asian capitals.

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