There is a lot of confusion surrounding the names “Myanmar” and “Burma”. Some people use them interchangeably, while others make a distinction between the two. So, what’s the difference? And why does it matter?
What is Myanmar?
- Myanmar, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its west, China to its north, Laos, and Thailand to its east and southeast, and the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to its south.
- With a land area of 729,000 square kilometers, Myanmar is slightly smaller than France or Spain. Myanmar’s population is over 52 million people. The capital city of Myanmar is Naypyidaw, and its largest city is Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon).
- Myanmar has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 1997. Myanmar is also a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Myanmar has been a member state of the International Criminal Court since 1 October 2015.
What is Burma?
- Burma is a country located in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand. Burma has a population of over 53 million people.
- The capital of Burma is Naypyidaw. The official languages of Burma are Burmese and English. Burma is a Buddhist-majority country. Burma gained independence from the British Empire in 1948. A military dictatorship ruled Burma from 1962 to 2011.
- In 2011, Burma held its first free elections in over 20 years. Burma’s economy is rapidly growing. Burma is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Difference between Myanmar and Burma
Myanmar and Burma are two names for the same country. The difference is that Myanmar is the official name while Burma is the name used by most English speakers.
- Myanmar was the name given to the country when it gained independence from the British in 1948.
- The military dictators who ruled Myanmar from 1962 to 2011 changed the official English name of the country to Myanmar, but this was not widely accepted by other countries or by English speakers.
- In 2011, a new civilian government came to power and changed the official name back to Myanmar.
However, many people still use Burma when referring to Myanmar, especially in written English. There is no correct or incorrect name, but Myanmar is generally considered more polite.
If you’re still not sure about the difference between Myanmar and Burma, don’t worry. We understand that it can be confusing when two countries have such similar names. In a nutshell, Burma is the older name for Myanmar and is used mainly in historical contexts or by some governments and organizations opposed to military rule in Myanmar.