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Burma is also known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Burma is in south-east Asia, bordering Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand, with which it shares part of the Malay Peninsula, going from the Bay of Bengal into the Andaman Sea. There is evidence of Homo erectus having lived in the region over 400,000 years ago, and that city states had developed by the 9th century CE. By the 12th and 13th centuries, two major empires controlled Southeast Asia, the Khmer and the Bagan, however, they were soon toppled by the invading Mongol army. The region fell into fragmentation, eventually two major kingdoms known as the Ava and Hathawaddy Kingdoms grew dominant and constantly went to war. Despite this turmoil, cultural synchronization flourished throughout the kingdoms and smaller territories. In the 16th century, nearly all fragments united, led by King Bayimanung. The kingdom collapsed at his death, but reunited in time to fight off the Siamese Empire. In 1614 and 1615 Portuguese settlers attempted to settle and claim the land
The kingdom again fell and again reunited in 1759 in time to drive off the British, followed by the Siamese again in 1767, then four invasion attempts by China in 1776. Burma and Siam went to war again in 1885, resulting in a stalemate and Siam retaking ancient territories. This began the downfall of Burma, as the next war was the Anglo-Burmese war with the British, who gained a third of the kingdom, and another third in the second Anglo-Burmese war in 1852 and the last third in the Anglo-Burmese war in 1885. The city-state of Mandalay was annexed by Britain in 1886. Resentment was ubiquitous since the first war, resulting in riots all over conquered territory. In 1937, Burma became a separately administered colony, which did little to quell violence.
In 1940, Aung San formed the Burma-Indonesian Army in Japan, just before it entered WWII. Japan quickly took the country from the British and instituted martial rule in 1942. Japanese rule ended with WWII, but Burma was left devastated from constant fighting. Burma declared itself independent in 1948 as the Union of Burma. The country spent 1962-1988 under military rule after a coup. Martial law was then declared to answer all the violent protests. The country renamed itself in 1989 and had its first free election in 1990. The country has rated 180 out of 183 in the Corruption Perception Index and is today highly notorious for human trafficking, forced labor, few rights for women, and has the most brutal military in the world. The government describes the Rohingya minority as 'the least wanted people' to justify expelling them from the country and giving them almost no rights as human beings, including making each couple sign a contract to have no more than two children, making them the most persecuted people in the world. Burma is the second largest producer of opium.
Burma met the worst natural disaster in its history in the form of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, which killed 138,000 people. The country is home to hundreds of protected species.