Myanmar introduction

 

Overview

Form of State: Republic

Prime Minister: Thein Sein

National Anthem: "Gba Majay Bma" (We will love Burma).

Main cities: Naypyidaw, the political capital, Yangon or Yangon, the economic capital and the largest city in the country, Bagan (or Pagan), Mandalay.

Highest point: Mount Hkakabo Razi at 5881m altitude.

Area: 678,500 km²

Water (%): 23,070 km2 (or 3.41%).

Population: Total in 2012 - 54,584,650 Inhabitants. Density – 79.5 inhabitants/km2

 

Geographic location

 

Myanmar is the largest country in Southeast Asia Continental with 678,500 km² of area. This country forms a vast plateau, leaning against the incredibly high mountains of the North on the borders of the Himalayas. Sloping to the South, this plateau is crisscrossed by large rivers that trace deep valleys: the Chindwin River, Sittang River and especially Irrawaddy River, which divides the country into two parts. Thus, Irrawaddy River is considered as the vital artery of the country with its 2,710 kilometers long.

 

The country consists of a large central plain where most of the population lives. Its widest part does not exceed 960 kilometers. This plain is lined with mountain spaces as in the west of the Arakan range. These mountains are strangely shaped like a horseshoe, forging natural borders with neighboring countries. Here, in these remote and mountainous regions, the forest is everywhere.

The inland region around the Mandalay Basin is called the Upper Myanmar, and it is is the historical heart of the country.

The coastal region (alluvial area of the Irrawaddy Delta and the Sittang Plain) is surrounded by numerous islands. It's the Lower Myanmar.

 

Economic status

 

Myanmar is a poorly industrialized country with a predominantly rural population. This country has many energy resources: oil (from both land and sea), gas (also from land and sea), wood, minerals mainly sells to China, Thailand and South Korea. Myanmar also produces gems and hydropower.

 

Tourism is also an emerging sector in this country. Until the last major political changes, tourism attracted less than 200,000 people per year and the majorities are Chinese and Japanese. Recently foreign investment has drawn tensions in ethnic areas most abundant in natural resources.

 

Administrative divisions

 

The territory is divided into 7 regions and 7 states which are subdivided into communes, districts and villages. The regions form the state of the Burmese proper, while the states each correspond to one of the major ethnic groups that populate Burma and have been recognized by the Government as such.

 

Ethnic groups

 

Beside the Burmese majority (75%), more than 130 other ethnic minorities live in Burma: the Shans (11%), the Arakans (6%), the Karens (5%), the Mon (3%), Kachins (2.5%), Chins, Karennis (Kayahs), Lahus, Rohingyas, Gurkhas, Palaungs, Meos (Hmongs), Nagas, Akhas, Lisaws, Kadus, Was, the Moken (or Mawkens), etc. Each has its own dialect and culture. These regrouped minorities are about 1/3 of the population of the country and occupy more than half of the territory.

 

Nevertheless, there are only these seven "national races" have been officially recognized by the Government:

 

·         The Shan

·         The Mon

·         The Karen

·         The Karenni

·         The Chin

·         The Kachin (Jingpo)

·         The Rakhine (Arakan)

Many intercommunity problems are the consequences of this heterogeneity of the population

 

Time zone

The time zone in Myanmar is GMT +6.30. That means if you come from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia, you have to delay your watch by 30 minutes.

Between Myanmar and Quebec, there is 11H30 lag during the winter and 10h30 during the summer.

 

Hygiene, water and food

 

Respecting good hygiene is important and washing your hands regularly is a habit to avoid gastric discomfort. In case you cannot wash your hands, a liquid disinfectant is a very useful solution.

We remind you that tap water is not drinkable, even in big cities and hotels. Only drink mineral water in bottles or purified water. Otherwise, use Micropur decontamination tablets.

Traveling in a foreign country, changing food habits or eating "local" can be a source of intestinal problems, especially for people who are sensitive. Therefore, we advise you to avoid ice cubes, vegetables and uncooked fruits in street stalls.

 

Currencies and Change

Attention: Only count on cash! The bank card, even international, will not be accepted anywhere and there are no ATMs. It is also impossible to change traveler's checks. It is therefore necessary to plan to leave with cash, and in sufficient quantity!

The national currency is kyat (pronounced "tchiatte"). A kyat is divided into 100 pyas. There are 5,000-karter banknotes that are more convenient for travelers.

For exchange, in addition to the banks of Yangon (which change currencies at the same rate as the one practiced on the parallel market), you can change at the airport, in some hotels, shops, travel agencies and sometimes even in the street.

Prefer the USD which is easier to change. And be aware that big bills will get a better rate. Be careful not to change everything when you arrive: the dollars are used to pay for certain accommodations, transportation and small purchases. So keep your small bills for smaller purchases.

Euros are also exchangeable more easily and at an interesting rate.

Be careful, take NEW TICKETS, OR IN EXCELLENT CONDITION, otherwise they are simply refused. AVOID the series of Dollars "CB" which, subject to many counterfeits, is systematically refused (info specified in the top left of the greenback).

In 2018: US 1 ≈ 1456 Ks (and 1€ ≈ 1703 Ks). That said, given the daily changes in the exchange rate, expect a range of 1450 to 1,600 Ks for $ 1. You can change dollars and Euros in big cities, but the rate is better in Yangon than elsewhere and better in Mandalay, Bagan or Inle than in the remote area of the country.

Finally, stay alert!

 

Electricity

It is useful to have an adapter to connect your devices to the English three pin plugs that are apppeared in the country sometimes. If not, ask for one at the hotel reception or buy one in town.

There are regular cuts or sudden drops in voltage. In this case, the air conditioners and fans no longer work, especially in hotels that have too weak generators. So remember to recharge your batteries as soon as you can!

In the countryside or in northern cities, there is often electricity only from 18H to 23H approximately.

In short, do not forget your flashlight. It will also help you to visit the temples. Beware, flat batteries are little known in Myanmar.

 

Postal service

In all Asian countries, it is now easy to find an internet connection, especially in hotels or cyber cafes.

 

Communications

From outside to Burma: 00 + 95 + city code (without the 0) + number of the correspondent.

Communication to Europe costs about $5/minute from small phone shops, even more in hotels. It is very expensive. Better to call yourself!