Myanmar (formerly Burma) is perhaps the least known travel destination in Southeast Asia.
Official language: Burmese
Currency: Myanmar kyat
Passport and visa: A person with a Finnish passport needs a visa to Myanmar .
Time difference to Finland: 3.5
Daylight saving time is not used.
Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture is one of the pillars of Myanmar’s economy and employs over half the population. Rice has been the most important crop for centuries. Myanmar is the world’s second largest producer of opium, after Afghanistan.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Burma. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
Agriculture, together with forestry and fisheries, accounts for almost a third of the country’s GDP. The most intensive agriculture is conducted around the rivers in the central plain, while a large part of the cultivable area in other parts is not used. With the exception of some large state agriculture, cultivation takes place almost entirely under private control, usually with traditional and inefficient methods. The properties are small – more than half cover less than four hectares.
Rice is grown mainly in the delta of the Irrawaddy River. Coconuts and tobacco, beans and lentils are also grown on the central plain. Increased cultivation of oilseeds is encouraged, as there is a shortage of cooking oil. Tea is grown in the state of Shan in the northeast and coffee in some other highlands. Other plants grown primarily for export are cotton, jute, sugar cane and rubber trees. The most important export crops are rice, legumes, sesame seeds, peanuts and sugarcane. For Burma defense and foreign policy, please check recipesinthebox.
The fields of opium poppy are mainly found in the so-called Golden Triangle in the border regions with China, Laos and Thailand. Governments, together with the UN, have tried to attract peasants to stop cultivating opium. From the mid-1990s and a decade onwards, opium production declined significantly, but a handful of years later it was steadily rising again. In the first half of the 2010, opium cultivation was expected to increase rapidly. Some of the armed ethnic groups in the north and northeast are deeply involved in opium smuggling. Militants are also considered to have financial interests in the opium trade.
In Myanmar, there are nearly two-thirds of the world’s teak stocks, as well as several other hardwood species. Harvesting rates increased rapidly in the 1990s when modern machines replaced elephants and water buffaloes for transporting timber. After a few years of intensive harvesting, the availability of teak in the most easily accessible areas had decreased sharply, and the government set up several nature conservation areas. In 2005, logging was banned in northern Myanmar and the following year the authorities in the Chinese border province of Yunnan banned the import of Myanmar precious wood. In 2014, all timber exports became illegal. It is unclear to what extent the prohibitions are complied with.
Fish and fish products are important elements of the Myanmar’s diet. Shrimp and fish are also important export goods.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
24.6 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
19.5 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of MMR stands for the state of Myanmar in geography.
Bangladesh wants to return 100,000 Rohingy in January
Bangladeshi authorities send a list to Myanmar with names of around 100,000 Muslim Rohingy who are in the refugee camps around Cox’s Bazar and which Bangladesh wants to return in a first stage of the repatriation of just over 600,000 Rohingyas agreed by the two countries in November 2017. Under the agreement, the first refugees will return to Myanmar at the end of January. However, many observers warn that the security of the refugees is too poor in Rakhine where a military offensive has been going on since August 2017 and caused the wave of refugees.
The United Nations adopts resolution in support of Rohingya
The UN General Assembly adopts a resolution calling on Myanmar to end military action against Rohingya in the state of Rakhine, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. The resolution requires that all refugees be allowed to return, that Rohingya be offered full citizenship in Myanmar and that the UN appoint a so-called special envoy for Myanmar. The UN already has a special reporter for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, but the Myanmar government has interrupted all cooperation with her and banned her from visiting the country. 124 countries voted in favor of the resolution. China, Russia, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Belarus, Zimbabwe and Syria are voting against.
US faces sanctions against general
The United States sanctions General Maung Maung Soe and accuses him of leading the offensive in Rakhine that the United Nations and the United States have described as ethnic cleansing of Muslim Rohingya.
Mass grave found in Rakhine
The military announces that a mass grave has been found in the northern part of the state of Rakhine where the offensive against militant Rohingya is most intense. In the tomb, which was discovered in a village where most of the inhabitants are Muslim Rohingy, there were the remains of ten people.
“6,700 Rohingy were killed in one month”
At least 6,700 Rohingy were killed during the first month by the military’s offensive against militant Rohingy in Rakhine, that is, between August 25 and September 25, 2017. Among the dead are at least 730 children under the age of five. This is what the aid organization Doctors Without Borders writes in a new report. It is the highest estimate of the number of dead at the beginning of the offensive published so far and significantly higher than the Army’s 400 dead in the first few weeks (including 376 militant Rohingy). The offensive became the starting point of a refugee stream that has led to over 620,000 Rohingya living in camps in Bangladesh under difficult conditions. The United Nations and the United States have labeled the military offensive as ethnic cleansing of Rohingya, but they have not published a death toll. Doctors Without Borders report is based on six surveys among more than 2,434 households in the refugee camps for one month. According to the report, 69 percent of the victims were shot dead, 9 percent burned inside their houses and 5 percent were killed. Of the children, 60 percent were shot to death.
Reporters are arrested after revealing massacres
Two Myanmarian reporters from the Reuters news agency have been arrested and charged with using classified material when they uncovered a massacre of ten Rohingy people in the village of Din Din in Rakhine. Reporters risk 14 years in prison if found guilty.
The Pope avoids mentioning the Rohingy
When Pope Francis makes an eye-catching four-day visit to Myanmar, he avoids mentioning the Rohingy, the allegations of ethnic cleansing carried out by the military, and the humanitarian crisis that arose after the military offensive in Rakhine from August 2017. Instead, he speaks in general terms about the “fair and respectful” human rights “and the importance of” respecting all ethnic groups “. Nor does Aung San Suu Kyi mention the Rohingy during the visit.
Refugee agreement with Bangladesh
Myanmar enters into an agreement with Bangladesh to cooperate to bring back around 600,000 refugees who have traveled from Rakhine in Myanmar to the area around Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. The repatriation will start at the end of January 2018. Bangladesh describes the agreement as a “first step”.
US condemns “ethnic cleansing”
US Secretary of State Tillerson takes a tougher stance on Myanmar in a statement accusing security forces of having committed “horrific abuses” against Rohingya and being equated with ethnic cleansing.
China offers help to resolve the Rakhine crisis
After a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi presents a proposal on how to resolve the Rakhine crisis. The proposal includes a ceasefire and repatriation of the refugees, mostly Rohingy, who are now in Bangladesh. According to China, both the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments agree with the proposal.
The army chief speaks against the return of the refugees
The more than 600,000 Rohingya who have moved from Rakhine in Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017 cannot return until the “real Myanmar citizens” are ready to accept them, says the country’s hard-line army chief Min Aung Hlaing. He thus speaks against Aung San Suu Kyi and her government who previously promised to begin the repatriation of the refugees. Min Aung Hlaing dismisses all charges against the army against Rohingy and maintains that the military only strikes against the Rohingya militant group Arsa in Rakhine. On Facebook, the army chief has fueled the contradictions between Muslims and Buddhists in the state, among other things by saying that Rohingya are foreigners from Bangladesh, despite many having lived in Myanmar for generations.
HRW: amounts of group rape on Rohingy
Masses of women and girls in the Muslim minority rohingya have been subjected to group rape by soldiers during the military offensive in Rakhine which began in August 2017. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports in a report, where the human rights organization also writes that the sexual assaults in combination with other serious crimes of violence and violations of human rights have now reached a level that can be described as crimes against humanity. The HRW report is based on testimony from dozens of group rape victims as well as information from health care sources and aid organizations in Bangladesh.
Tillerson on a quick visit to Myanmar
US Secretary of State Tillerson visits the capital Naypyidaw for a day. He meets Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing behind closed doors, then meets Aung San Suu Kyi. The US stance in the Rakhine crisis has so far been to blame the military for the refugee crisis, to urge it to retire from Rakhine and allow the refugees to return. However, the United States has avoided condemning Aung San Suu Kyi’s and the government’s actions, but has only said that Suu Kyi has an important role to play in resolving the conflict and that she should urge the army to withdraw. The reason for the US’s relatively mild stance towards the Myanmar government is that Washington fears that the democratization that has been going on in Myanmar in recent years will stop and perhaps suffer a backlash if the parties push too hard. The Suu Kyi government has rejected reports of abuses in Rakhine and has asked Rohingya and Buddhists to “quit arguing”. She has also refused to allow the UN investigators in Rakhine to conduct an independent review of the course of events and the situation.
The army clears itself of accusations
In an internal investigation, the army acquits itself of all allegations of crimes and offenses committed against Rohingya in Rakhine. The army has been accused by the UN of engaging in ethnic cleansing, and human rights groups accuse the army of indiscriminately killing, of burning Rohingya’s villages, of rape and looting. According to Amnesty International, the army’s internal review is just an attempt to cleanse itself. The human rights organization calls for the UN to send an investigation team into Rakhine, which the government has rejected.
Sharp exchange of words with the UN
The UN Security Council fails to rally around a resolutionagainst Myanmar for dealing with the refugee crisis in Rakhine, when China opposes such. Instead, the Council makes a critical statement in which it urges the Myanmar government to stop the military offensive in the state that caused the refugee stream into Bangladesh. Myanmar responds to the UN Security Council that the statement risks “seriously damaging” efforts currently underway to repatriate the refugees and that the UN overlooked the fact that the problem can only be resolved bilaterally, together with Bangladesh. Bangladesh and Myanmar have begun talks on how the refugees should be able to return to Myanmar, but no results have so far been achieved. In its statement, the Security Council expressed “grave concern” for human rights violations in the form of killings, sexual crimes, as well as burnt down houses and other property.
Suu Kyi visits Rakhine
Aung San Suu Kyi visits Rakhine for one day. On his tour of some of the state’s cities, including the state capital of Sittwe, the Myanmar leader meets Rohingy. According to witnesses, she should have said that the government is there to help, and that residents of Rakhine should not fight each other. Aung San Suu Kyi has received sharp criticism from the outside world because she and her government have not stopped the military offensive in Rakhine that has driven more than 600,000 people on the run. The vast majority of refugees are Muslim Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh. The UN has been similar to the offensive of ethnic cleansing.
The government recently presented a plan for ending the conflict in Rakhine and developing the poor state. The plan is made by the government, business representatives and foreign donors.
Manifestation in support of the military
Thousands of people attend a demonstration in Rangoon in support of the country’s military forces. The Myanmar military has received sharp international criticism for its violent behavior in the state of Rakhine, where over half a million Muslim Rohingya have been forced to flee a military offensive since August.
Unsuccessful talks between UN Head and Myanmar’s leadership
UN Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, leaves Myanmar after five days of fruitless negotiations with the country’s political and military leadership on a solution to the Rakhine crisis. During the meeting, Feltman tried in vain to get Aung San Suu Kyi and military leaders to agree to allow Rohingya refugees in the camps in Bangladesh to return safely to Rakhine.
Kofi Annan appeals to the UN to help Rohingya return
Former UN chief Kofi Annan, who led the government-appointed commission that in August submitted a report on the situation in Rakhine, calls on the UN Security Council to work for the return of around half a million Rohingya now living in refugee camps in Bangladesh Myanmar in a dignified and safe way without again ending up in large camps. Another appealed to the military and government to put an end to the ongoing armed conflict in Rakhine. In August, Kofi Annan’s commission called on the government to grant citizenship to Rohingya who are now stateless.
UN group visits Rakhine
After delays, the UN is allowed to visit the military-controlled Rakhine, where the security forces are accused by the outside world of carrying out ethnic cleansing against Muslim Rohingya. The UN group consists of three people, who in a statement say they saw “unimaginable suffering” during their one-day visit to the state. During the government-controlled visit are representatives of several individual organizations and diplomats, including an EU delegation.
Nearly 90 NGOs condemn “crimes against humanity”
Eighty eight NGOs condemn in a joint statement the ” crimes against humanity ” committed by Myanmar authorities against the Muslim minority Rohingya in the state of Rakhine. The organizations, including Amnesty International, appeal to the international community to act. Since August 25, around half a million people, mainly Rohingya, have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh from a military offensive against the militant Rohingya group Arsa as well as from local conflicts with Buddhists and Hindus in Rakhine. In its statement, the organizations urge the countries of the world to withdraw all military support and cooperation with Myanmar’s military and security services. Many Buddhists and Hindus have also become internal refugees in the last month.
UN: 480,000 Rohingyes have moved
The UN is upgrading the number of Rohingya who have moved from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 to 480,000. This is a sharp increase in just a few days.
The army accuses Arsa of massacres
Police say a mass grave with 45 Hindu women and children has been found in the state of Rakhine. The army claims that it has evidence that militant Rohingya carried out a massacre, but Arsa militant Rohingya group denies the charges.
Britain freezes military aid
Britain holds over $ 400,000 in financial aid to the country’s military due to allegations of human rights crimes committed in connection with the Rakhine offensive.
Suu Kyi talks to the nation
Aung San Suu Kyi gives a speech to the nation. The speech is held in English and also addressed to the outside world who criticize her for not renouncing the military’s assault on Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine. This time, too, she does not condemn the military’s offensive. She emphasizes, as before, that all peoples (read both Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine) get help from the government and she adds that she feels deeply for all those suffering in the conflict. Suu Kyi says that most Muslims have remained in the state and that violence has now ceased. She adds that Myanmar will welcome all refugees who want to return. Suu Kyi also says that her government condemns all violations of human rights and all illegal violence.
USA: the violence against Rohingya is unacceptable
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calls the violence against Rohingya in Rakhine “unacceptable”. On the same day, the human rights organization Amnesty International says it has evidence that the military is “systematically” burning down villages.
The UN Security Council makes a statement on the situation in Rakhine
At the initiative of Sweden and the United Kingdom, the UN Security Council is holding an extra meeting on the occasion of the events in Rakhine. The number of Rohingya migrating to Bangladesh now amounts to 380,000, or a third of the Ronhingya population. For the first time, the entire Council, including Myanmar’s close ally China, can be brought together in a joint statement. It states that the security forces are using too much force in their offensive and urges the government to immediately take the steps needed to stop the violence.
Suu Kyi is absent from UN meeting
A government spokesman announces that Aung San Suu Kyi will not attend the UN Security Council opening on September 19. No reason for the decision is stated, but Suu Kyi has received sharp criticism from large parts of the world community for not doing enough to help the refugees in Rakhine where a military offensive is taking place against militant Rohingyans.
UN: Ethnic cleansing school textbook example
UN human rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein says the Myanmar security forces’ offensive against the Muslim Rohingya minority in recent times appears to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. He urges the country’s military to stop the offensive. Several countries and organizations around the world condemn the government’s and military’s actions in Rakhine, and in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan, demonstrations are being held against the treatment of Rohingya.
Arsa announces unilateral ceasefire
The militant Rohingya group Arsa announces a unilateral ceasefire for a month. The group states that the reason for the ceasefire is that the humanitarian emergency is otherwise at risk of not reaching the affected. The government rejects the ceasefire and says it does not negotiate with terrorists. The number of people who have moved to Bangladesh is now up to almost 300,000. Most of them are Rohingy.
Media: Rohingy should get help from the government
Camps will be set up where relief can be given to homeless Muslims fleeing inside Rakhine, state-sponsored media reports. It is the first time since the wave of violence erupted on August 25 that the government offers assistance to the Rohingya minority. About 27,000 Buddhists and Hindus who have fled from militant Rohingy since August 25 receive help from the government through monasteries and schools.
One of four Rohingya has fled Myanmar
The UN reports to media that over a quarter of a million people, the vast majority of whom are Rohingyans, have moved from Myanmar to Bangladesh since October 2016. This means that every fourth Rohingy in Myanmar has left the country. 164,000 of them have fled since the military offensive began in Rakhine on August 25, 2017. Crowds of people have died in flight, some have been hit by mines deployed along the border, others drown as their boats capsize on the Naf border. According to Myanmar authorities, 30 civilians have been killed since August 25, including 7 Rohingya, 7 Hindus and 16 Buddhists. During the same period, 6,600 Rohingya and 201 Buddhists had their homes burnt down according to the same source.
The pressure is increasing against the government of Myanmar
Aung San Suu Kyi comments for the first time on the latest violence in Rakhine. She says that all people in the state get help and protection from the government in the best possible way, both Rohingy and Buddhists. She does not say anything about the Rohingy people having a particularly difficult situation, nor does she mention the over 125,000 people who have moved to Bangladesh. Suu Kyi says that media reporting on developments in Rakhine is incorrect and risks jeopardizing the interests of terrorists. Myanmar’s government recently stamped the militant group Arsa, which is made up of Rohingya, and Suu Kyi places responsibility for the violence on this group. UN Secretary-General Gueterres says it is high time to talk about the very root of the problems in Rakhine, namely “Rohingy must be granted citizenship or at least civil rights”
The situation in Rakhine is getting worse
Persons belonging to the Muslim minority Rohingya and a smaller proportion of Buddhists continue to flee across the border to Bangladesh, away from the military offensive in Myanmar. More than 123,000 people, the vast majority of whom are Rohingyans, have fled Rakhine state since August 25, when the offensive began after militant Rohingy in the Arsa group attacked some 30 police stations. In a single day, 35,000 Rohingyans cross the border. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar says that the country’s real leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, must now act. The criticism of the world against her is increasing.
Mass escape and increased violence in Rakhine
A military offensive against armed people from the Rohingya population in Rakhine leads to mass escape to Bangladesh. At the turn of the month, around 27,000 Rohingya have moved to the neighboring country. The offensive begins after militant Rohingy raids some 30 police posts in the state a few days earlier. At least 400 people have been killed, including eleven civil servants. Eyewitnesses say that soldiers often burn down entire villages in their search for militant Rohingya. The Bangladeshi Coast Guard reports that they found bodies after about 20 drowned refugees from Myanmar, the majority of whom were women and children from the Rohingya people. At present, Bangladesh houses hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar.
Claims for Rohingy citizenship
The government-appointed commission, headed by former UN chief Kofi Annan, who was commissioned to review the events in Rakhine, submits its final report. The group calls on the government and the outside world to work for the stateless Rohingya to gain Myanmar citizenship.
Many dead when Arsa goes to attack in Rakhine
Dozens of people, including five police officers, are killed when a group of about 150 militant Rohingy people attack 30 or so police posts in Rakhine. The army goes against the offensive, and violence is described as the worst in the state in several months. It is unclear how organized the Rohingya’s armed resistance to the military is. A group called Arsa (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) takes on responsibility for the raids. The same group was behind similar attacks in October 2016.
More soldiers to Rakhine
The government confirms that more troops have been sent to Rakhine to strengthen security there. According to the government, clean-up actions are under way against militant members of the Rohingya people group in the May Yu mountain area. The UN criticizes the movement of troops and calls it very worrying.
Several dead in attack on village in Rakhine
At least six people are killed in a raid on a village in troubled Rakhine. All victims belong to the small group of myo. Authorities are accusing a group of militant Rohingya of being behind the attack, claiming they are targeting civilians who are believed to be supporting the state. The situation remains tense in Rakhine and military control is tough.
UN investigators are denied a visa
The government refuses to issue visas to three UN Human Rights Investigators who, on location in Rakhine, want to examine the allegations of abuse against the Rohingya minority group. The government says the investigators are not welcome because the government is already conducting its own investigation. Later, John Fisher, head of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch in Geneva, says Myanmar risks being considered a “pariah state” like North Korea and Syria and that the visa refusal was “a blow to the face of victims whose human rights have been grossly violated by Myanmar’s security forces”.
The military releases 67 child soldiers
Sixty-seven child soldiers may leave the army in the first release of minors in 2017. Previously, the military released nearly 850 child soldiers in accordance with an agreement with the UN from 2012.
Accusations of abuse are rejected
The military rejects the UN’s allegations of abuse against members of the Muslim Rohingya group during the Rakhine fall 2016 operation.
Diplomatic relations with the Vatican
Myanmar and the Vatican City establish full diplomatic relations following a meeting between Pope Francis and Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi does not want to investigate charges of crimes against Rohingya
Aung San Suu Kyi rejects a decision by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of crimes committed by Myanmar security forces against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine. Suu Kyi claims that such an investigation would only increase tensions between the state’s Muslims and Buddhists even more. Suu Kyi has also said that she does not believe that any ethnic cleansing of Muslims occurs in Rakhine. The high reputation of the Myanmar leader as a human rights fighter has gained a foothold internationally in the way she handled the events in Rakhine, where the Buddhist majority, along with the military and police, are accused of harassment and persecution of Rohingya.
Oil pipeline to China opens
After heavy delays, an oil pipeline is opened between the port city of Kyaukpyu and southeastern China. The project is intended to make China less dependent on oil pipelines running through the politically sensitive area around the South China Sea.
NLD is considered in filling choices
In parliamentary elections, NLD wins 9 out of 19 seats. The election elections are seen as a value gauge on voter support for the tried and tested NLD government, which has received increasingly harsh criticism for its way of dealing with violence and persecution in Rakhine. The result indicates that the NLD has continued strong support among the majority people of Burmese, while voter support has weakened in areas with ethnic minorities.
Militants behind legal murder?
The trial begins against Kyi Lin, Aung Win Khaing and two other people who are suspected to have carried out and / or been behind the murder in January on the lawyer Ko Ni. A fifth person, a military, is wanted for involvement in the murder. There are suspicions that the military was behind the murder, as Ko Ni worked to reduce the military’s political influence and criticized the clause in the constitution that in practice means that Aung San Suu Kyi cannot become president.
Former military commanders ordered the murder of lawyers
The president’s office says that the murder of lawyer Ko Ni in January was carried out by the professional killer Kyi Lin on the orders of former military commander Aung Win Khaing. Nothing is said about the motive for the murder.
“Army offensive in Rakhine ends”
A government official announces that the army’s “clean-up” operation in northern Rakhine is now over. The situation in the area is said to be stable and the soldiers are replaced by a police force that will monitor law and order. The curfew has been lifted. The offensive has been ongoing since the attack on a border police posting in October 2016. Hundreds of people, mainly Muslim Rohingya, have been killed and nearly 70,000 have fled the area.
A Rohingy is sentenced to death
A man belonging to the Muslim Rohingya people is sentenced to death for leading the scare against the border posting in Kotankauk in October 2016 that led to the deadly military offensive in Rakhine. The man is the first of 14 detainees sentenced by the court in Rakhine’s capital Sittwe.
Protest against ships with relief
A Malaysian ship with relief to Rohingy in Rakhine arrives in Rangoon. The boat is met by protesting Buddhists at the dock.
The death toll rises in Rakhine
A UN official says the number of deaths in the military offensive against Rohingy in Rakhine can exceed 1,000, which is a clearly higher figure than the World Organization previously stated.
Muslim lawyer murdered
Ko Ni, a well-known Muslim lawyer and advisor to the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi, is shot dead in the middle of the day at Rangoon’s International Airport, waiting for a taxi with his granddaughter in his arms. The NLD and Suu Kyi describe it as a political murder and a “terrorist act”. Ko Ni was a well-known critic of the 2008 constitution and the military’s continued political influence. There is information that he worked actively to get the constitution repealed.
Around 22,000 Rohingy flee during one week
At least 65,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the military offensive began three months earlier, the UN reports. One third of them left Myanmar in January.
“There is no evidence of Rohingy abuse”
The government-appointed commission commissioned to investigate allegations of abuse against the Rohingya population in Rakhine writes that the evidence that the security forces have committed such crimes is insufficient. The report is presented a few days after a policeman published a video film in which four of his colleagues mistreat civilian Rohingya in the countryside. The Commission considers the film abuse as a “single incident”.