History of Burma

Brief history of Burma summarized

A brief summary of the history of Burma, an Asian country.

Ancient Burma

In 300 BC there was a rich civilization in southern Burma. In the estuaries of the Sittang and Saliveen rivers lived a people called the Mon. The Indians called it the Land of Gold. This civilization in Burma was also known to the Chinese.

Then, after 100 BC, a people called the Pyu settled in northern Burma. Between the 1st century BC and the 9th century AD city-states were created there.

In the 9th century AD, a people called the Bamar, coming from the borders of China and Tibet, came to northern Burma. In the year 849 they founded the city of Pagán. In 1044 Anawrahta became king of Pagan and united the Bamar people.

Then, in 1057, Anawrahta conquered the Mon kingdom of Thaton and founded the First Burmese Empire. However, the Bamar assimilated the Mon culture and were heavily influenced by it.

The 12th century was Burma’s golden age, but in the mid-13th century the empire began to decline. Then in 1287 the Mongols invaded Burma. Shortly thereafter they withdrew, but the Burmese empire dissolved. The Mon people in the south became independent and a people called the Shan from what is now Thailand took over part of Burma.

In the fifteenth century, the first European arrived in Burma. An Italian named Nicolo di Conti traveled to Bago.

Later, in the 16th century, the town of Bamar was revived. They conquered the Shan and created a second Burmese Empire. Then in the 17th century the French, British and Dutch established trade contacts with Burma.

However, the Second Burmese Empire declined and in 1752 the southern Mon people, with the help of the French, captured the Bamar capital Inwa, bringing it to an end.

However, Mon’s triumph did not last long. A Bamar named Alaungpaya led a counterattack. He took Inwa in 1753 and captured the Mon capital in 1755. (He renamed it Yangon). In 1785 his successor Bodawpaya conquered western Burma. So he came to rule all of Burma.

The British in Burma

However, the Burmese came into conflict with the British in India. The British conquered Burma in stages and then added it to their colony of India. The British and the Burmese fought three wars. After the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-1836, the British took over parts of western Burma.

In 1852, after another war, they took parts of southern Burma. Finally, after a third war in 1885, the remaining part of Burma was formally annexed by Great Britain on January 1, 1886.

It is not surprising that the Burmese were resentful and that at the beginning of the 20th century nationalism grew. In 1932 there was a rebellion in Burma, but it was crushed. However, in 1937 the British made Burma a separate colony of India. Burma was also granted a legislative council.

The Japanese invaded Burma in January 1942. They slowly pushed the British back and captured Mandalay on May 1, 1942. Then, in December 1942 and February 1943, the British launched two offensives. They both failed.

However, in March 1944, the Japanese invaded India, but failed. Then, beginning in June 1944, the British pursued them all the way to Burma. The British captured Mandalay on March 20, 1945 and occupied Rangoon (Rangoon) on May 3, 1945.

However, by 1945 it was clear that the British could no longer hold Burma. In 1947 they agreed to make Burma independent. In April 1947 elections were held for a constituent assembly and work began on drafting a new constitution. Burma became independent on January 4, 1948.

Burma in the late 20th century

However, Burma faced several years of near-anarchy as some ethnic minorities distrusted the Bamar and rebelled. However, the government managed to restore order to most of Burma in the 1950s.

However, during the 1950s, Burma went through an economic crisis. Finally, in 1962, General Win seized power. He announced that Burma would follow the “Burmese Road to Socialism.” However, it turned out to be the “Burmese Road to Poverty.” As in other countries, socialism did not work and the standard of living in Burma fell.

Finally, the people of Burma lost patience. Demonstrations took place in 1987 and 1988. Ne Win resigned in July 1988, but the military continued to rule Burma. On August 8, 1988, a popular demonstration was held that was crushed by the military. Thousands of people died.

However, Burma’s military government promised to hold elections. The opposition rallied around Aung San Suu Kyi. However, she was banned from participating in the elections and she was placed under house arrest.

Not surprisingly, the opposition won the elections, but the military government refused to allow the elected parliament to take power.

Additionally, in 1999, the International Labor Organization recommended sanctions against Burma for its government’s use of forced labor.

Burma remains a very poor country after decades of economic mismanagement, even though it is a resource-rich country. In addition, Burma suffered from massive unemployment and high inflation.

Burma in the 21st century

In 2007, Buddhist monks rioted over rising prices, and the long-suffering Burmese people flocked to their aid. However, the military government brutally suppressed the demonstrations. Many people were killed or arrested.

In 2008, Burma was devastated by Cyclone Nargis, which killed tens of thousands of people and left many more homeless. However, the junta went ahead with a referendum on a new constitution. They stated that 92% voted yes.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released in 2010. By-elections were held in Burma in 2012 and she won a seat in Parliament. General elections were held in 2015 and in 2016 Htin Kyaw was sworn in as president. Win Myint replaced it in 2018.

Meanwhile, Burma is rich in minerals. It has gas and oil deposits. In addition, the soil of Burma is fertile. Therefore, there is every reason to be optimistic about the future of Burma.

Today, the population of Burma is 55 million.

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