Even though Burma is just a little smaller than Texas, it is home to over 48,000,000 people according to the CIA. Other than a partial census taken in 1983, no official census has been conducted since 1931. The official language is Burmese. However, there are four distinctive language families in Burma. The first of these is Sino-Tibetan which consist of Burmese, Karen, Kachin, Chin, and Chinese. The second is Kradai and it is made up of Shan. The third is Austro-Asiatic that consist of Mon, Palaung, and Wa. The fourth major linguistic family in known as Indo-European. It consist of two types that are Theravada Buddhism, and English.
Burma is ethnically rich and diverse. 135 different ethnic groups are recognized there. Over 68% of the population is Burman. Shan makes up 9% of the people. At least 7% of the population is Karen. Rakhine comprise another 4%, Chinese at 3%. Indian 2% and Mon 2%. The other 5% make up Burma's minority group. They choose to call themselves ethnic nationalities.
The climate in Burma is tropical monsoon. It is located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator which is the monsoon region in Asia. The southwest monsoon run from June until September. During this time the summers are cloudy, rainy, hot and humid. From December to April, the northeast monsoon leads to scant rainfall and mild weather throughout the winter. The average temperature in the northern regions are around 70 degrees, while on the coastline, it is closer to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The coastal regions of Burma receives around 200 inches of rainfall annually. The delta regions receive a little over 98 inches, and central Burma gets only about 39 inches of rainfall a year.
The terrain consist of mountain ranges and fertile valley below. Most of the people in Burma live in the valley of Ayeyarwady. This valley is surrounded by the Rakhine Yoma, and the Shan Plateau. The Rakhine Yoma is better known as the Arakan Mountains. This mountain arc runs along at about 600 miles long. The Shan Plateau has an average elevation of about 3000 feet and is part of the Indo- Malayan mountain System.
Burma's currency is the Kyat. Due to years of mismanagement the GDP only grows at 2.9% annually. When it was under British rule it was the second wealthiest country in southeast Asia and the worlds largest exporter of rice. They even supplied oil to the major oil company there. In 1948 a parliamentary government was formed and the Prime Minister wanted to make it a welfare state. By 1987 the country was bankrupt. Today the rice production has dramatically increased and Burma is the major transporter of precious gems. They are most famous for their almost perfect red rubies and 90% of the world rubies come from them. They also sale sapphire, pearls and jade. This is a government run mining operation, and the money earned is used to fund their regime. Most major jewelry suppliers such as Bulgari, Tiffany, and Cartier refuse to transport their stones. They abhor the terrible working condition in the mines.
The major diseases that affect the Burmese people are quite serious. As of 2007, over 270,000 people have the sexually transmitted aids. Food and waterborne disease cause diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever. Vector borne disease spread by mosquitoes are dengue fever and malaria. Leptospirosis can be contracted via the water, and animal are responsible for rabies. Even the avian flu has affected this country though the cases are rare.
Burma is an area for human trafficking due to the military junta's mismanagement and human right abuses. The military junta governs Burma, and its policies allow the using of forced labor. The loss of jobs and higher incomes have caused young women to immigrate to neighbor countries. Travel facilitators lure them with false promises. Men, women, and children are all trafficked to other countries for multitudes of reason. Sex, forced labor, and used as soldiers are just a few of the reasons. They are trafficked and exploited in Thailand, the People's Republic of China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Korea just to name a few. Kachin women are often transported to China for prostitution, or to become Chinese brides. There is an international corporation between the Burmese government and UNIAP to ensure education for authorities in dealing with this matter.
Drug trafficking is another major downfall for this country. It is the world's second largest producer of opium. In 2008, it produced 340 metric tons of illicit opium. Shan state is responsible for over 94% of the poppy cultivation and saw a major increase of 4% in that same year. There is a tremendous lack of control by the government over drug trafficking and money laundering to impact any antidrug effort underway.
International tourist are not encouraged to visit this country. The junta's forced labor programs infiltrate the tourist destinations, and their human abuse record is poor. A majority of the country is off-limit to foreigners and interaction between travelers and locals are discouraged and monitored.