|Unmarred view: The scenery of Bagan in Myanmar. — Photo courtesy of Myanmar Embassy
On the occasion of Myanmar's Independence Day (January 4), Viet Nam News presents an article by Win Hlaing, Myanmar's Ambassador to Viet Nam.
Myanmar, known as the Golden land, is rich in culture and natural attractions. There are numerous pagodas, temples, beauty spots, archaeological sites, snow-peaked mountains, deep forests with abundant flora and fauna, rivers and natural lakes, beaches and archipelagos, 135 national races with their colourful costumes and customs, traditional arts and crafts.
Myanmar is situated in South-East Asia, bounded on the north by Tibet Autonomous Region of China; on the east by China, Laos and Thailand; on the south by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal; and on the west by the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, and India. It is officially known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The coastal region is known as Lower Myanmar, while the interior region is known as Upper Myanmar. The total area of the country is 676,552sq.km.
The mountains of the northern margin rise to 5,881m atop Hkakabo Razi, the highest peak in Southeast Asia. The two other mountain systems have northern to southern axes. The Arakan Yoma range, with peaks reaching more than 2,740m, forms a barrier between Myanmar and the subcontinent of India. The Bilauktaung range, the southern extension of the Shan Plateau, lies along the boundary between southwestern Thailand and southeastern Lower Myanmar. The Shan Plateau, originating in China, has an average elevation of about 910m. Hilly regions in the north and Northeast enjoy cool temperate weather.
Buddhism has great influence on daily life in Myanmar. Over 80 per cent of Myanmar embraces Theravada Buddhism. Myanmar is made up of 135 ethnicities, of which the main ones are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. The population is estimated at 52.4 million (July 2013) and the population growth rate is 1.84 per cent.
While many speak the Myanmar language, ethnic minorities speak Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Shan and other hill-tribe dialects and Chinese and Indian immigrants speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindustani and Urdu. English is also widely spoken as the country was once a British colony.
Myanmar lies on the crossroads of two of the world's great civilisations – China and India – but its culture is neither that of India nor that of China exclusively, but a blend of both interspersed with unique traits and characteristics. The people have preserved the traditions of close family ties, respect for the elders, reverence for Buddhism and simple native dress. Myanmars are contented and cheerful even in the face of adversity and known for their simple hospitality and friendliness.
The local currency is the "Kyat" which is divided into 100 pyas. Kyat notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 45, 50, 90, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10000.
Myanmar lost independence in 1885. Under the leadership of General Aung San, leaders joined hands with the people to create a strong resistance and drive the colonists out of Myanmar. The country regained its independence on January 4, 1948. The collaborative efforts of all national races made the supreme sacrifice for their country and Myanmar become a sovereign nation. It marks its 67th anniversary in 2015.
After having various experiences between 1948 and 2015, the Government of Myanmar now led by President U Thein Sein has begun to establish a parliamentary democracy. In recent years, the Myanmar government has undertaken active and positive efforts to maintain stability, advance development and improve the livelihood of the people, while achieving progress in promoting domestic political reconciliation and enhancing international exchange.
Today, Myanmar is in the smooth transition to a new system. The democratic spirit is flourishing. In the area of international relations, Myanmar is actively pursuing a non-aligned, independent and active foreign policy.
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam established diplomatic relations in 1975. Because of the joint efforts of our national leaders, the traditional ties of amity and co-operation between our two countries have grown stronger over the decades. We will mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations at the end of May. — VNS