I believe I have already mentioned my mother was brought up in Rangoon, Burma. It was there, in the shade of the pagoda that she was courted by my father. They met at an officers club and it was love at first sight.My father was serving in the RAF though he did not fly planes. This was just before the war and life seemed like one big party then. Sadly, once the war started, things were never the same. My parents, one aunt and my grandfather returned to this country and never saw Burma again. My mother told me so many fascinating stories about her childhood that I could not begin to recount them. She always said she would like to return one day but I am not sure she would have enjoyed the changes.
Myanmar (Burma) Information and History
In 1989 the largest nation of mainland Southeast Asia changed its name from Burma to Myanmar. In 2006 the capital moved from Yangon (formerly Rangoon) to Nay Pyi Taw. Geographically, the country’s Irrawaddy basin is surrounded on three sides by densely forested mountains and plateaus. Most people live in the fertile valley and delta of the Irrawaddy River.
The majority of Myanmar’s people are ethnic Burmans, and other ethnic groups (including Shans, Karens, and Kachins) add up to some 30 percent of the population. Ethnic minorities are dominant in border and mountainous areas: Shan in the north and northeast (Indian and Thai borders), Karen in the southeast (Thai border), and Kachin in the far north (Chinese border). The military regime has brutally suppressed ethnic groups wanting rights and autonomy, and many ethnic insurgencies operate against it.
Independence from Britain in 1948 was followed by isolationism and socialism. Military governments have ruled Myanmar since 1962 and have been accused of corruption, heroin trafficking, and human rights violations—including forcible relocation of civilians and use of forced labour. In 1988 military forces killed more than a thousand pro-democracy demonstrators. In 1990 national elections were held for parliament, but the military refused to recognize the results. Myanmar is a resource-rich country with a strong agricultural base, and is a leading producer of gems, jade, and teak. However, military rule prevents the economy from developing, and the Burmese people remain poor and are getting poorer.