Central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands
Tropical monsoon; cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers (southwest monsoon, June to September); less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter (northeast monsoon, December to April)
Nationality: Burmese (singular and plural)
Population: 55,167,330 (July 2013 est.)
Languages: Burmese (official); note: minority ethnic groups have their own languages
Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, Animist 1%, other 2%
Burma is a resource-rich country but still suffers from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic policies, corruption, and rural poverty. Burma is the poorest country in Southeast Asia; approximately 32% of the population lives in poverty. Corruption is prevalent and significant resources in the extractive industries are concentrated in a few hands. In recent years, foreign investors have shied away from nearly every sector except for natural gas, power generation, timber, and mining.
About 80% of the population lives in rural areas. Architecture reflects the country's Buddhist and colonial heritage. Buddhist temples are the most important architectural features throughout the country. The traditional house is made largely of bamboo. The frame of the house is made of wood, with hard and durable wood being used for the house posts. Roof coverings are made of a variety of materials, including thatch made from broad-leafed grass or palm fronds.
Parliamentary government took power in March 2011
US Military Presence/Support