The World Factbook (1990)/Burma

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 See regional map VIII and IX


Total area: 678,500 km²; land area: 657,740 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries: 5,876 km total; Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Laos 235 km, Thailand 1,800 km

Coastline: 1,930 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Continental shelf: edge of continental margin or 200 nm
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

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)

Terrain: central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands

Natural resources: crude oil, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas

Land use: 15% arable land; 1% permanent crops; 1% meadows and pastures; 49% forest and woodland; 34% other; includes 2% irrigated

Environment: subject to destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September); deforestation

Note: strategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes


Population: 41,277,389 (July 1990), growth rate 2.0% (1990)

Birth rate: 33 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 13 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 97 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 53 years male, 56 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 4.2 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Burmese; adjective—Burmese

Ethnic divisions: 68% Burman, 9% Shan, 7% Karen, 4% Rakhine, 3% Chinese, 2% Mon, 2% Indian, 5% other

Religion: 85% Buddhist, 15% animist beliefs, Muslim, Christian, or other

Language: Burmese; minority ethnic groups have their own languages

Literacy: 78%

Labor force: 16,036,000; 65.2% agriculture, 14.3% industry, 10.1% trade, 6.3% government, 4.1% other (FY89 est.)

Organized labor: Workers' Asiayone (asso-ciation), 1,800,000 members, and Peasants' Asiayone, 7,600,000 members


Long-form name: Union of Burma; note—the local official name is Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw which has been translated as Union of Myanma or Union of Myanmar

Type: military government

Capital: Rangoon (sometimes translated as Yangon)

Administrative divisions: 7 divisions* (yinmya, singular—yin) and 7 states (pyinemya, singular—pyine); Chin State, Irrawaddy*, Kachin State, Karan State, Kayah State, Magwe*, Mandalay*, Mon State, Pegu*, Rakhine State, Rangoon*, Sagaing*, Shan State, Tenasserim*

Independence: 4 January 1948 (from UK)

Constitution: 3 January 1974 (suspended since 18 September 1988)

Legal system: martial law in effect throughout most of the country; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Independence Day, 4 January (1948)

Executive branch: chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration Council, State Law and Order Restoration Council

Legislative branch unicameral People's Assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw) was dissolved after the coup of 18 September 1988

Judicial branch: Council of People's Justices was abolished after the coup of 18 September 1988

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—Chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and Prime Minister Gen. SAW MAUNG (since 18 September 1988)

Political parties and leaders: National League for Democracy, U Tin Oo and Aung San Suu Kyi; League for Democracy and Peace, U Nu; National Unity Party (promilitary); over 100 other parties

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: People's Assembly—last held 6-20 October 1985, but dissolved after the coup of 18 September 1988; next scheduled 27 May 1990); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(NA total) number of seats by party NA

Communists: several hundred, est., primarily as an insurgent group on the northeast frontier

Other political or pressure groups: Kachin Independence Army; Karen National Union, several Shan factions (all insurgent groups); Burmese Communist Party (BCP)


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador U MYO AUNG; Chancery at 2300 S Street NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 332-9044 through 9046; there is a Burmese Consulate General in New York; US—Ambassador Burton LEVIN; Embassy at 581 Merchant Street, Rangoon (mailing address is G. P. O. Box 521, Rangoon or Box B, APO San Francisco 96346); telephone 82055 or 82181

Flag: red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing, all in white, 14 five-pointed stars encircling a cogwheel containing a stalk of rice; the 14 stars represent the 14 administrative divisions


Overview: Burma is one of the poorest countries in Asia, with a per capita GDP of about $280. The government reports negligible growth for FY88. The nation has been unable to achieve any significant improvement in export earnings because of falling prices for many of its major commodity exports. For rice, traditionally the most important export, the drop in world prices has been accompanied by shrinking markets and a smaller volume of sales. In 1985 teak replaced rice as the largest export and continues to hold this position. The economy is heavily dependent on the agricultural sector, which generates about 40% of GDP and provides employment for more than 65% of the work force.

GDP: $11.0 billion, per capita $280; real growth rate 0.2% (FY88 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 22.6% (FY89 est.)

Unemployment rate: 10.4% in urban areas (FY87)

Budget: revenues $4.9 billion; expenditures $5.0 billion, including capital expenditures of $0.7 billion (FY89 est.)

Exports: $311 million (f.o.b., FY88 est.) commodities—teak, rice, oilseed, metals, rubber, gems; partners—Southeast Asia, India, China, EC, Africa

Imports: $536 million (c.i.f., FY88 est.) commodities—machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, food products; partners—Japan, EC, CEMA, China, Southeast Asia

External debt: $5.6 billion (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -1.5% (FY88)

Electricity: 950,000 kW capacity; 2,900 million kWh produced, 70 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: agricultural processing; textiles and footwear; wood and wood products; petroleum refining; mining of copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer

Agriculture: accounts for about 40% of GDP (including fish and forestry); self-sufficient in food; principal crops—paddy rice, corn, oilseed, sugarcane, pulses; world's largest stand of hardwood trees; rice and teak account for 55% of export revenues; 1985 fish catch of 644 million metric tons

Illicit drugs: world's largest illicit producer of opium poppy and minor producer of cannabis for the international drug trade; opium production is on the increase as growers respond to the collapse of Rangoon's antinarcotic programs

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $158 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $3.8 billion; Communist countries (1970-88), $424 million

Currency: kyat (plural—kyats); 1 kyat (K) = 100 pyas

Exchange rates: kyats (K) per US$1—6.5188 (January 1990), 6.7049 (1989), 6.3945 (1988), 6.6535 (1987), 7.3304 (1986), 8.4749 (1985)

Fiscal year: 1 April-31 March


Railroads: 3,991 km total, all government owned; 3,878 km 1.000-meter gauge, 113 km narrow-gauge industrial lines; 362 km double track

Highways: 27,000 km total; 3,200 km bituminous, 17,700 km improved earth or gravel, 6,100 km unimproved earth

Inland waterways: 12,800 km; 3,200 km navigable by large commercial vessels

Pipelines: crude, 1,343 km; natural gas, 330km

Ports: Rangoon, Moulmein, Bassein

Merchant marine: 45 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 595,814 GRT/955,924 DWT; includes 3 passenger-cargo, 15 cargo, 2 roll-on/roll-off, 1 vehicle carrier, 1 container, 2 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 5 chemical, 16 bulk

Civil air: 17 major transport aircraft (including 3 helicopters)

Airports: 88 total, 81 usable; 29 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 3 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 37 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: meets minimum requirements for local and intercity service; international service is good; radiobroadcast coverage is limited to the most populous areas; 53,000 telephones (1986); stations—2 AM, 1 FM, 1 TV (1985); 1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force

Military manpower: eligible 15-49, 20,294,848; of the 10,135,886 males 15-49, 5,438,196 are fit for military service; of the 10,158,962 females 15-49, 5,437,518 are fit for military service; 434,200 males and 423,435 females reach military age (18) annually; both sexes are liable for military service

Defense expenditures: $315.0 million, 21.0% of central government budget (FY88)