Current History


Myanmar is a Southeast Asian nation bordered in the east by Thailand, Laos, and China, and in the west by India as well as the Indian Ocean.

Burma gained its independence from Britain in 1948 and has been under military rule since 1962. The current military junta seized power in the fall of 1988, in essence replacing one cohort of military rulers with another. This junta has since perpetrated a variety of human rights violations on its citizens, from the suppression of free speech to the use of forced labor and torture.

On May 2 and 3 of 2008, Myanmar was hit by the devastating Cyclone Nargis. Accurate figures were difficult to obtain, but the numbers killed have been reported between 84,000 and 146,000. The most striking aspect of this calamity was the totalitarian regime's resistance to aid from certain foreign governments, the U.S. in particular. This lack of relief effort could be responsible for long term consequences resulting in many more deaths.

Myanmar’s seven divisions are all controlled by the largest ethnic group, the Bamar. The seven states are each controlled by a separate ethnic minority.

Life under the military junta has been difficult for all citizens. Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, however, have arguably suffered the most under the current government. Ethnic unrest has been a chronic problem in Myanmar since 1948.

The country is divided into seven divisions and seven ethnic minority states, the latter of which are named after the dominant ethnic group in each state. Shortly after independence, armed rebel groups formed in all seven states.

Furthermore, by the 1980s there was not a single ethnic group in Myanmar that did not have some section of its population engaged in rebellion against the government.

Until recently, the news media didn’t say much about Myanmar’s repressive government. Why do you think that was, and why has that changed?
Asian Info: Myanmar History
National Geographic: Myanmar
Political and Economic History of Myanmar
World Desk Reference: Burma (Myanmar) Chronology