Area: 678,500 sq km. (about the size of Texas).
Cities: Capital--Rangoon (pop. 5.5 million), Mandalay (pop.
Terrain: Central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands.
Climate: Tropical monsoon; cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers
(southwest monsoon, June to September); less cloudy, scant rainfall,
mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter (northeast monsoon,
December to April).
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Burmese.
Population (official 2003 est.): 52.17 million (UNFPA estimate), but
no official census has been taken since 1983.
Annual growth rate (2003 est.): 0.47%.
Ethnic groups: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Arakanese 4%, Chinese
3%, Mon 2%, Indian 2%, other 5%.
Religions: Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic
1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%.
Languages: Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages.
Education (1999 est.): Literacy--male 92.60%; female 91.02%
(2003 official Government of Burma statistics); estimates of
functional literacy are closer to 30%.
Health (2001 est.): Infant mortality rate--77 deaths/1,000
live births. Life expectancy--54.22 yrs.: male; 57.9 yrs.
Type: Military junta.
Constitution: January 3, 1974 (suspended since September 18, 1988
when latest junta took power). A national convention started on
January 9, 1993 to draft a new constitution, but collapsed in 1996
without an agreement. The junta reconvened the convention in May
2004 without the participation of the National League for Democracy
and other pro-democracy ethnic groups. The convention recessed in
July 2004, and a second session was held from February 17 to March
Branches: Executive--Chairman of the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC) Senior General Than Shwe is the head of
state. Prime Minister Gen. Soe Win is the head of government. On
October 19, 2004, former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was ousted by the
SPDC senior leadership and replaced by Soe Win. Legislative--unicameral
People's Assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw) has 485 seats; members elected by
popular vote to serve 4-year terms. The last elections were in 1990,
but the Assembly was prevented from convening by the military.
Judicial--Supreme Court. The legal system was based on the
British-era system, but now the junta rules by Decree and there is
no guarantee of a fair public trial; the judiciary is not
Political parties: National League for Democracy (NLD) is the
primary opposition party; National Unity Party (NUP) is the primary
pro-regime party; the Union Solidarity and Development Association
(USDA) is a pro-regime social organization; and other smaller
Administrative subdivisions: Seven primarily Burman divisions (tain)
and seven ethnic states (pyi nay); Chin State, Kachin State, Karen
State, Karenni State, Mon State, Arakan State, Shan State, Rangoon
Division, Mandalay Division, Tenessarim Division, Irrawaddy
Division, Pegu Division, Magway Division, and Sagaing Division.
Suffrage: Universal suffrage at 18 years of age (but there have been
no elections since 1990).
GDP (FY2003/04): $13.6 billion (official figures).
Annual growth rate: actual rate is unknown, although the official
2004 rate was 13.8%.
GDP per capita (2004 est.): $225.
Natural resources: Timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten,
lead, coal, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower, and
Agriculture: Products--rice, pulses, beans, sesame,
groundnuts, sugarcane, hardwood, fish and fish products.
Industries: Types--agricultural processing, knit and woven
apparel, wood and wood products, copper, tin, tungsten, iron,
construction materials, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizer.
Recorded trade (IMF 2003 ): Exports--$2.8 billion (natural
gas – 25.3%, teak and forest products 14.8%, garments 14.4%, beans
and pulses 11.7%, and marine products 6.8%). Major markets--Thailand
39%, India 17%, P.R.C. 10.6%, Singapore 6.4%, and Japan 5.7%.
Imports--$2.3 billion (machinery and transport equipment 20.2%,
refined mineral oil 12.3%, base metals and manufactures 9.4%,
artificial and synthetic fabrics 8.8%, and plastic 4.6%). Major
suppliers-- Singapore 28.8%, P.R.C. 21.4%, Japan 12%, Thailand
8.5%, and Malaysia 7%.