Burma ('''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:En-us-Burma.ogg|i]]'''/ˈbɜrmə/ BUR-mə), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, commonly shortened to Myanmar ('''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:En-us-Myanmar.ogg|i]]'''/ˈmjɑːnˌmɑr/ MYAHN-mar,[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-Merriam-Webster-6|]] /ˈmaɪænmɑr/ or /ˈmjænmɑr/),[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-7|]][[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-8|]][[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-Ammon-9|]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-10|]] is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia bordered by China, Thailand, India, Laos and Bangladesh. One-third of Burma's total perimeter of 1,930 kilometres (1,200 miles) forms an uninterrupted coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Its population of over 60 million makes it the world's 24th most populous country[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-fact-1|]] and, at 676,578 km~-2-~ (261,227 sq mi), it is the world's 40th largest country and the second largest in Southeast Asia.
Burma is home to some of the early civilizations of Southeast Asia including the Pyu and the Mon.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-11|]] In the 9th century, the Burmans of the Kingdom of Nanzhao entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Empire in the 1050s, the Burmese language and culture slowly became dominant in the country. During this period, Theravada Buddhism gradually became the predominant religion of the country. The Pagan Empire fell due to the Mongol invasions (1277–1301), and several warring states emerged. In the second half of the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo Dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-vbl-152-12|]] The early 19th century Konbaung Dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Burma as well as Manipur and Assam. The British conquered Burma after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in 19th century. Since independence in 1948, the country was in one of the longest running civil wars among the country's myriad ethnic groups that remains unresolved. From 1962 to 2011, the country was under military rule. During this time, the United Nations and several other organizations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-13|]][[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-14|]][[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-autogenerated3-15|]] The military junta was officially dissolved in 2011 following a general election in 2010 and a nominally civilian government installed, though the military retains enormous influence.
Since the military began relinquishing more of its control over the government, however – coupled with its release in 2010 of Burma's most prominent human rights activist, Aung San Suu Kyi – the country's foreign relationships have improved rapidly, especially with major powers such as the European Union, Japan, and the United States. Trade and other economic sanctions, for example, imposed by the European Union and the United States, have now been eased.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-16|]][[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-17|]]
Burma is a country rich in jade and gems, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources. In 2011, its GDP stood at US$53.14 billion and was estimated as growing at an annual rate of 5.5%.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma#cite_note-CIA-18|]]