Bolstered by sales of natural gas, economic growth was 5.5% in 2011 and is expected to be around the same over 2012. The economy has continued to grow, supported by foreign investment in construction and more credit being made available to agriculture. The country is now committed to an extensive agenda of reforms to realise its potential. The financial sector is underdeveloped but has considerable promise to support economic growth. A sale of state assets, in addition, has the potential to stimulate private sector investment.
Myanmar, the second largest country in Southeast Asia, is bordered by China on the northeast, Lao PDR on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, with the Andaman Sea defining its southern periphery. In the north, the Shan mountains form the border with China. Hkakabo Razi, located in Kachin State, at an elevation of 5,881 metres, is the highest point in Myanmar. Three mountain ranges, namely the Rakhine Yoma, the Bago Yoma and the Shan Plateau.
They divide three river systems, the Salween, the Sittaung and the Irrawaddy, the longest at nearly 2,170 kilometres which flows into the Gulf of Martaban. Much of the country lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator. It lies in the monsoon region of Asia, with its coastal areas receiving over 5,000mm of rain annually.
Myanmar has huge tourism potential with its pristine beaches, snow capped mountains, jungle trails and spectacular temples. There are around 100 different ethnic groups within Myanmar. Much of the Country’s population is rural and occupied by agricultural activities. Many of these ethnic groups are largely untouched by western cultures, leaving their own rich cultural traditions still intact. Buddhism is the main guiding force in the lives of the Myanmar people. Myanmar joined ASEAN along with Lao PDR on 23 July 1997.
Joined ASEAN: 23 July 1997
Head of State: President Thein Sein
Area: 676,578 square kilometres
Border countries: Lao PDR, Thailand, Bangladesh, China, India
Coastline: 1,930 kilometres
Capital city: Naypyidaw
Total population: 54,584,650
Population of capital: 992,000
Climate: Summer is tropical, cloudy, hot and humid. Southwest monsoon June to September. Winter less cloudy with lower humidity. Northeast monsoon December to April.
Religions: Buddhist (89%), Christian (4%), Muslim (4%), other (3%)
Ethnic groups: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%