Introduction to Myanmar/Burma

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Widely regarded as an astonishingly beautiful country (GNLM, 2017; Holland, 2016; Topgear, 2009), Myanmar boasts a cornucopia of natural riches spread liberally across four distinctive environments, 1200+ miles of coastline, and its centrally located 900 mile-long Ayayewaddy River. Abundant in teak (and other timber), amber, jade, rubies, gold, oil, hydropower, and natural gas (Wansai, 18.02.2018; Kress, 2009); carpeted in vast swathes of rice paddy, as well as home to 18,000 plant species, 1,100 birds, and 300 mammals, Myanmar is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet (Kress, 2009).

Much of these blessings, however, have attracted a great deal of attentions. Portugese, Mughal, British, and Japanese Empires have all wanted to gain access to this immense wealth, and to varying degrees have been able to do so. When Myanmar, or Burma as it was know for centuries finally did gain independence from the British, things could have gone much better. Instead,  70 years of civil war, cruel military rule, and endemic xenophobia against Myanmar's ethnic groups (numbering an incredible 135 unique peoples) dictated an isolationist policy that detracted foreign investment, journalists, and, of course, tourists.

Over the last five years, Myanmar has come through a difficult period and entered the community of democratic nations, lead by the talismanic Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Prize winner. Hope for country remains, and a tourist industry has emerged only recently.

Since August 25th, 2017, Myanmar has been in the news a lot. Much is made about human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State, and a newly of hostilities of Myanmar's outlier States. While these areas are generally off the main tourist trails, The Digital Traveller of today must stay aprised of these trouble spots to stay safe, and be aware of the consequential restrictions on movement and visa changes.

All that said, the primary reasons for venturing to Myanmar: the food, the beer (in TD's view, the best in Asia), the stunning archeological sites at Bagan, the old glory of Mandalay, and the buzz that's constantly felt all over resurgent Yangon. And this is to say nothing of the people, culture, and history. Myanmar is without doubt, one of the great tourist locations in the world.

Myanmar is a country changing so fast across a whole spectrum of indicators: government, globalisation, tourism, infrastructure and dozens of other ways besides, that most guidebooks are unable to keep pace with these developments - and that's where we come in.

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