Myanmar is the largest country in the South-east Asia Peninsular sharing borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. Myanmar has 676,577 sq.km of total land area. It is about the size of Texas and the size of United Kingdom and France combined. The country stretches over 2090 km from north to south and over 925 km east to west. It has a 2832 km long coastline on the Indian Ocean. Over 50 persent of the total land area is covered with forest.
Early civilization in Myanmar dates back to the 1st century with archaeological evidences of the Pyu Kingdoms of Thayekhittaya, Beithano (Visnu) and Hanlin. The First Myanmar Empire was founded in early 11th century by King Anawratha who unified the country through his strong leadership and intellect. The Empire with its capital at Bagan lasted until the end of 13th century with the invasion of theMongols. This was more than 20 years before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Then Second Myanmar Empire with its capital in Bago was founded in min 16th century by King Bayinnaung. The third and last Myanmar Empire was founded by King Alaungpaya in 1752. In the 19th century, during the peak period of colonialism, Myanmar was annexed in three stages by the British after three Anglo-Myanmar Wars in 1825, 1852, and 1885. During the Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese for nearly three years until the Allied Forces' reoccupation in 1945. Myanmar Became a sovereign independent state on January 4, 1948.
Myanmar is a union of 135 ethnic groups with their own languages and dialects. The major races are the Bamar, the Chin, the Kachin, the Shan, the Kayah, the Kayin, the Mon and the Rakhine. The name Myanmar embraces all the ethnic groups. The population of Myanmar is about 51 millions.
Predominantly a Buddhist country with more than 80 percent of the people embracing Theravada Buddhiam. There are also Christians, Muslims, Hindus and some animists.
The official language is Myanmar. English is widely spoken and understood.
Myanmar enjoys a tropical climate. The monsoon or rainy season is from June to September with average temperature 25- 30 C, the cool dry season from October to February with average temperature 20- 24 C, and the hot season from March to May with average temperature 30-35 C. Cool season is the best time to visit Myanmar.
Myanmar currency is the "Kyat". Currency notes come in the following denominations: K 10000, K 5000, K1000, K500, K 200, K 100, K 50, K 20, K 10, K 5, K, 1. Visitors are not allowed to bring in or take out Kyats. Most of the notes for average uses are 100K, 200K, 500K, 1000K. One bottle of drinking water on the street is 500 Ks. One bottle of beer is 2000 Ks in street shop. One plate of fried rice or fried noodle in small local restaurant is 2000 Ks and can be up to about 6000 Ks in a nice restaurants (not hotel).
The basic Myanmar food is mainly rice and curry. There are different kinds of curries such as Chicken curry, fish curry, Beef curry, vegetable curry, etc. Also have fried rice, fried noodle and many kinds of salad. Some Myanmar curries are spicy and some with gravy. Vegetable soup taken together with rice and other dishes. Mohinga, rice noodles with fish gravy is the most famous for breakfast. Ohn-No-Khaukswe (noodles with coconut chicken gravy) is the most popular among Myanmar foods.
Drink only bottled or boiled water and green tea (Chinese Tea). Tap water in some places are better not to drink. Good quality bottled water are “Alpine”, “PMG”,
Light causal wear for all year round. Thin cotton is the best. A warm sweater or light jacket for the cool season especially when visiting upper Myanmar, like Shan state (Taunggyi-Inle, Kalaw, Pandaya), Mandalay and Bagan. An umbrella will be useful during the rainy season. Sandals or slippers are convenient as all foot wears must be taken of when entering the precincts of Pagodas and monasteries. Visitors should not wear shorts, vests or briefs when visiting Pagodas and monasteries & religious areas.
The Myanmar Standard Time is six and half-hours in advance of GMT.