Burma in 1982

Previously Burma was part of greater India. Various ethnic Burman and ethnic minority city-states or kingdoms occupied the present borders through the 19th century, and several minority ethnic groups continue to maintain independent armies and control territory within the country today, in opposition to the central government. Over a period of 62 years (1824-1886), Britain conquered Burma and incorporated all the groups within the country into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; in 1948, following major battles on its territory during World War II, Burma attained independence from the British Commonwealth. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. In response to widespread civil unrest, NE WIN resigned in 1988, but within months the military crushed student-led protests and took power. Since independence, successive Burmese governments have fought on-and-off conflicts with armed ethnic groups seeking autonomy in the country’s mountainous border regions.


678,600 km 2 ; 28% arable, of which 12% is cultivated, 62% forest, 10% urban and other (1969)

Land boundaries: 5,850 km


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 200 nm (200 nm exclusive economic zone)

Coastline: 3,060 km


Population: 36,166,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 2.5%

Nationality: noun—Burman(s); adjective—Burmese

Ethnic divisions: 72% Burman, 7% Karen, 6% Shan, 3% Indian, 2% Kachin, 2% Chin, 2% Chinese, 6% other

Religion: 85% Buddhist, 15% animist, and other

Language: Burmese; minority ethnic groups have their own languages

Literacy: 70% (official claim)

Labor force: 12.2 million (1976); 67% agriculture, 9% industry, 20% services, commerce, and transportation

Organized labor: no figure available; old labor organizations have been disbanded, and government is forming one central labor organization


Official name: Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma

Type: republic under 1974 constitution

Capital: Rangoon

Political subdivisions: seven divisions and seven constituent states; subdivided into townships, villages, and wards

Legal system: People’s Justice system and People’s Courts instituted under 1974 constitution; legal education at Universities of Rangoon and Mandalay; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Independence Day, 4 January

Branches: State Council rules through a Council of Ministers; People’s Assembly has legislative power

Government leader: Chairman of State Council and President Gen. U SAN YU

Suffrage: universal over age 18

Elections: People’s Assembly and local People’s Councils elected in 1978

Political parties and leaders: government-sponsored Burma Socialist Program Party only legal party; U Ne Win, party chairman

Communists: estimated between 12,000 and 14,000

Other political or pressure groups: Kachin Independence Army; Karen Nationalist Union, several Shan factions



GDP: $5.0 billion (1979/80, in current prices), $170 per capita; real growth rate 5.9% (1979/80)

Agriculture: accounts for nearly 70% of total employment and about 27% of GDP; main crops—paddy, sugarcane, corn, peanuts; almost 100% self-sufficient; most rice grown in deltaic land

Fishing: catch 518,700 metric tons (1977)

Major industries: agricultural processing; textiles and footwear; wood and wood products; petroleum refining

Electric power: 719,000 kW capacity (1980); 1.438 billion kWh produced (1980), 42 kWh per capita

Exports: $480 million (1980/81); rice, teak

Imports: $650 million (c.i.f., 1979); machinery and transportation equipment, textiles, other manufactured goods

Major trade partners: exports—Singapore, Western Europe, China, UK, Japan; imports—Japan, Western Europe, Singapore, UK

Budget: (1979/80) $3.4 billion est. revenues, $4.0 billion expenditures, $600 million deficit

Monetary conversion rate: 7.0 kyat=US$l (1981)

Fiscal year: 1 April-31 March


Railroads: 3,243 km total; 3,130 km meter gauge (1.00 m), 113 km narrow-gauge industrial lines; 328 km double track; government owned

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

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

Ports: 4 major, 6 minor

Civil air: about 20 major transport aircraft

Airfields: 81 total, 80 usable; 21 with permanent-surface runways; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 40 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: provide minimum requirements for local and intercity service; international service is good; radiobroadcast coverage is limited to the most populous areas; 33,000 telephones (0.1 per 100 popl); 1 AM station, 1 FM station, and 1 TV station; 1 ground satellite station


Military manpower: eligible 15-49, 16,523,000; of the 8,203,000 males 15-49, 4,535,000 are fit for military service; about 374,000 males and 365,000 females reach military age (18) annually; both sexes are liable for military service

%d bloggers like this: