Myanmar / Burma facts

Once part of the British Empire, Burma attained independence in 1948 and was ruled constitutionally until left-wing Gen. Ne Win staged a coup in 1962, introducing the "Burmese Way to Socialism." Massive unrest forced him to step down in 1988, and the military soon took over.

With opposition to military rule mounting, the government fired on protesters in 1988, killing an estimated 3,000. A year later, the government changed the country's name to Myanmar, a name that is not recognized by the U.S. State Department.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in 1989, and a year later, the government nullified an electoral victory by her party. For all but five years since, Suu Kyi has remained incarcerated or otherwise isolated.

Military leaders in 2005 relocated the nation's capital from Yangon, also known as Rangoon, to Pyinmana, a remote mountain village.

Demonstrations erupted again, over fuel prices, and have blossomed into a broader movement for political change.

Sources: CIA Factbook, Infoplease, U.S. State Department, Encyclopedia Britannica

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