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Welcome to Myanmar (Burma)

Early civilization in Myanmar dates back to the 1st century with archaeological evidences of the Pyu Kingdoms of Thayekhittaya (Sriksetra), Beikthano (Visnu) and Hanlin.

Myanmar entered a period of greatness in the early 11th century when King Anawrahta unified the country and created the first Myanmar Empire with its capital in Bagan. The Empire, which lasted until the end of the 13th century, produced a glorious civilization whose monuments still endure. The second Myanmar Empire with its capital in Bago was created in the middle of the 16th century by King Bayinnaung.The third and last Myanmar Empire was founded by King Alaungpaya in 1752 and had a number of capitals, the last being Mandalay. In the later years of the Empire, Myanmar was annexed by the British in three stages, in 1825, 1852, 1885 and became a British colony. Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese during World War II, and in the postwar period the independence movement, which had begun in the early 20th cenury, came to a climax and Myanmar attained independence on 4 January 1948.

 

Official name:

Myanmar (Union of Burma)

 

Area :

Total 678,500 sq.km (Land: 657,740 sq.km)

Capital :

Yangon (Rangoon)

 

Administration:

7 divisions*  and 7 states : Chin ( Ayearwady* , Bago* ), Kachin , Kayin , Kayah (Magway* , Mandalay*), Mon , Rakhine (Sagaing*), Shan (Taninthayi* , Yangon*)

Population :

51 million

 

Government:

Military regime

Ethnic groups:

Burma 68% , Shan 9% , Karen 7% , Rakhine 4% , Chinese 3% , Indian 2% , Mon 2% , Other 5%

 

Location :

Southeastern Asia , bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal . Sharing borders with China to the North-East, Lao and Thailand to the East , India and Bangladesh to the West.

Language

Myanmar  (0fficial) English

 

Climate :

Myanmar has three seasons; the monsoon or rainy season from May to October; the cool season from November to February and the hot season from March to May. The average temperature ranges from 32?C in central and lower areas to 21?C in the northern highlands.

Local Time

GMT +6 1/2

Currency

Kyat (Kt) = 100 pyas. Kt. 100,000 is known as a lakh, and Kt 10 million as a crore. Kyat is pronounced like the English word 'chat'.
Kyat, made up of 100 pyas. Currency notes come in the following denominations: K 1,000, K 500, K 200, K 100,K 90, K 50, K 45, K 20, K 15, K 10, K 5, K 1 and coins K 100, K 50, K 10, K 5, K 1 and Pya 50.

 

Religion

Neat and respectful dress should be worn in all religious shrines. It is not considered polite to visit religious monuments in shorts, miniskirts or hot pants. Though shoes can be worn in temple compounds, they should be removed before entering the chapel of the principal Buddha image. Indeed, all Buddha images are regarded as sacred, regardless of size, age or position, and should all be shown due respect. Buddhist monks are not allowed to touch or be touched by a woman, or accept anything from a woman's hand.

Electricity supply

230V, 50Hz

 

Tipping

Widely practised in addition to hotel and restaurant service charges shown on bills

Business Hours

Government Offices 09:30 - 15:00 hrs (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)
Banks 09:30 hrs – 16.30 hrs (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)
Private Companies 09:00 hrs - 17:00 hrs (closed on Sundays)
Post Office 09:30 hrs - 16:30 hrs (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)
Shops 09:30 hrs - 21:00 hrs

 

Exchange

Airlines, major hotels and supermarkets accept Visa, Diners Club, American Express. Check with your credit card company for details to merchant acceptability and other services that may be available.

To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Sterling only.

Nightlife

Limited to large hotels

 

Photography

Photography in airports, railway stations and near any military installation is forbidden. Please use discretion when photographing people. For close-up shots always ask first. Bring adequate film, as locally available supplies are not always reliable.

 

Myanmar Public Holidays

Jan 4

Independence Day

Feb 12

Union Day

Mar 2

Peasants’ Day (anniversary of the 1962 coup)

Mar 24

Full Moon of Tabaung

Mar 27

Armed Forces Day

Apr 12-17

Maha Thingyan (Water Festival) & Myanmar New Year Days

May 1

World Workers' Day

Jul 19

Martyrs’ Day

Jul 20

Full Moon of Waso

Oct 17

Full Moon of Thadingyut (End of Buddhist Lent)

Nov 15

Tazaungmon Full Moon Day

Nov 25

National Day

Dec 25

Christmas Day

Dec 30

Kayin New Year only

 

 

Festivals & Events

 

Buddhist festivals fall all year round in Myanmar and usually coincide with the full moon. There are also many festivals that are specific to particular villages or temples. The best source of accurate information concerning these festivals is the Myanmar Embassy.

Temple fairs or pagoda festivals, lasting a week or longer, are the equivalent of western fun fairs, with entertainers, magicians, puppeteers, musicians, clairvoyants, healers and patent medicine purveyors moving from one fair to the next bringing excitement, colour and a much-earned break to the lives of local people.

Spirit festivals, known as Nat Pwes, whilst having only a tacit connection to Buddhism, have equal significance and share a tendency to coincide with the full moon. Major festivals fall during March,Buddhist Lent (July-September) and December.

April

Thingyan Water Festival

Celebrating the Myanmar New Year, this festival lasts for several days and is marked by major, good-natured water throwing. It is also a time of merit making, and older people go to temples for prayer and alms giving.

May

The Kason Festival

Representing the day the Buddha was born, the day He attained Enlightenment, and the day of His passing, this festival falls on the day of the full moon of Kason in the Myanmar calendar, in early May. Visits are made to pagodas to water the sacred Bo Trees - under which species the Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment.

July

The Waso Festival

Commemorating the Buddha's first sermon, this festival also marks the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Monks are given new robes and other requirements to tide them through the months ahead

October

Thadingyut Festival (Festival of Lights)

Marking the end of Buddhist Lent, this festival, held on the full moon day of Thadingyut, lasts for three days during which houses and streets are festively decorated and illuminated. People crowd into their local pagodas to offer alms and make merit. Younger people also pay homage to their parents, elders and teachers.

Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda Festival, Inle Lake

Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda's Buddha images are ferried from village to villages for people to pay homage. Fairs, dances, the leg rowers' boat races and general festivities counterbalance the more austere ceremonial aspect. This is the biggest celebration in the Shan state.

Elephant Dance Festival

Though enacted in several towns and villages, the town with the best festival is Kyauk-se, 40km south of Mandalay. Two full size paper elephants, one black, one white, each with two men inside, dance through the town with much pageantry and ceremony

November

Tazaungdaing Festival

Held on the full moon day of Tazaungmon according to the Myanmar Calendar, this festival finds houses and public buildings decorated and brightly lit. Robes and other requisites are offered to monks with the special offering of Mathothigan - a robe that is woven in one single day - held on the eve of the full moon. Dedicated teams of weavers compete with one another to complete the robes, which are then reverently offered to images of Buddha.

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