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The History of Myanmar

The History of Myanmar

History of Myanmar

The beautiful country of Myanmar or Burma as it was known prior to its independence has a rather chequered history. It has been occupied by a number of kingdoms from time immemorial, and does not quite enjoy democracy in its full form despite being a republic.

Burma has had earlier settlers dating back to the 2nd century BCE. It was the Pye in the North and the Mon in the South who occupied the country and founded several cities and states by the 4th century BCE. The Mranma unified the entire Irrawady region by establishing the pagan Empire in 1044 CE  The language, culture and other aspects of the country came to be defined properly for the first time ever since the early inhabitation in this region. However, local strifes and constant wars became the norm after the fall of this dynasty and Burma came to be a united kingdom once again only in 1510 CE under the Toungoo Dynasty. It became the largest empire of Southwest Asia for a short time thereafter and continued to be so for a brief time under the Konbaung dynasty which followed. The cultural ties were enhanced during this period and Burma enjoyed the title of being the most literate nation in the region during this time.

British Rule

The country came under British domination gradually following the fist Anglo Burmese war in 1824. The strife was, however, complete only 1886 when the ruling king and his family were sent to India in exile. Burma then became a province of British India. The country underwent a drastic change and religion was separated from administration for the very first time. The resistance to British rule continued though and the entire area was brought firmly under control in 1890 by the British who completely crushed the old order and brought in their own civil servants to govern the province.

The economy of Burma prospered predominantly by virtue of its fertile rice fields, which were put to cultivation. However, it was the British Empire and Indian migrants who reaped the benefits and the original Burmese remained poor and deprived. Several nationalist revolutions took place during the period 1920- 1930 and the British separated it from India in 1937 in order to administer it better.

World War II provided an opportunity for the Burmese to oppose the British Dominion. The Japanese entered the area with the help of Burma Independence Army in 1942. However, the Japanese occupation was short-lived as the Burmese quickly became disillusioned with them. They successfully routed the Japanese in 1945 by joining with the Allies.

Union of Burma

The country gained total independence in 1948 but the newly formed Socialist government refused to join the Commonwealth as the apathy for the British remained strong in the country. The next few years were not peaceful at all and the country was torn apart by political insurgencies. The military took over by toppling the government in a coup d’état in 1962. The country was officially renamed as Myanmar in 1989 and general elections were announced. The elected government was, however, not allowed to function properly by the military. Thein Sein is the President of Myanmar. At present the political difficulties continue though, and democracy is yet to take hold properly in the country.

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