Myanmar is geographically the largest country in Southeast Asia. Rich not only in traditions, Myanmar’s fertile land is crossed by a number of rivers that are used for transportation, irrigation, and also as a source of food. Myanmar’s primary river artery is the Irrawaddy, often referred to here as the Ayerawady. Mines have yielded some of the world’s finest rubies and imperial jades, while the sea off the southern coast is prime breeding ground for cultured pearls of excellent luster. The country’s natural resources include a stunning array of flora and fauna, from elusive tigers and elephants, to rare birds, butterflies and orchids. Many of these species are protected by Myanmar’s system of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
Myanmar is an agrarian country with a population of more than 50 million, 90% of whom live in rural areas. More than 100 different national groups live within the country’s borders. The Bama or Myanmar are the majority group inhabiting the central zone, while the Shan, Kayin, Kachin, Kayah, Chin, Rakhine and Mon and their sub-groups live in mountainous regions closer to the borders or along the coast.