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Missionary Spotlight-The Union of Myanmar [Burma]

February 2004

Area:261,218 square miles.

Population:47 million.

Neighbouring countries:China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh and India.

Environment:Myanmar’s terrain is dominated by a horseshoe of mountains and highlands surrounding central lowlands and the plains of the Irrawaddy River. The long coastline in the west provides many natural harbours. Most of Myanmar lies within the tropics.

Life expectancy:55 years. Myanmar has a rampant AIDS problem.

Capital:Yangon [Rangoon] (6 million).

Other city:Mandalay (1 million).

Urbanisation:28%.

Ethnic groups:Burmese 58%; indigenous minorities (including Karen, Shan, Chin, Mon, Arakanese, Kachin and Rohingya) 33%; others (including Chinese, Indian, Nepali and Malay) 9%.

Languages:Burmese (official); 106 other languages.

Literacy:83%.

Economy:Myanmar has considerable natural resources, particularly in energy (natural gas, hydropower), forestry (e.g. teak) and land suitable for growing rice and other crops. It also has a richly diverse wildlife. However, the country is impoverished due to political conflict and economic mismanagement. Main exports include agricultural products and transport equipment. Myanmar also shares in the infamous opium-exporting ‘golden triangle’.

Religions:Buddhist 83%; Roman Catholic 1%; Protestant 7%; Muslim 4%; Chinese religions 3%; others, including Hindu and animistic, 2%. Buddhism is no longer the state religion, but still has great influence.

Protestant denominations:Myanmar Baptist Convention; Assemblies of God; Churches of Christ; Methodist; Lisu Christian; Evangelical Free; Presbyterian; Self Supporting Karen Baptist; Believer’s Church; Christian Brethren; Mara Evangelical, and many others.

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