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Beautiful old photos show everyday life in Burma (Myanmar) back in 1903

Ian Smith

Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also known as Burma, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia bordered by Bangladesh, India,China, Laos and Thailand.

Early civilisations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma.In the 9th century, the Bamar peopleentered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language, culture and Theravada Buddhism slowly became dominant in the country. The Pagan Kingdom fell due to the Mongol invasions and several warring states emerged. In the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo Dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia. The early 19th century Konbaung Dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Myanmar and briefly controlled Manipur and Assam as well. The British conquered Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony.

 

A group of Baungshi Chins belonging to unadministered country.1903.

A group of Baungshi Chins belonging to unadministered country.1903.

 

A group of Chin girls from the Kyauksit Valley (Yindus)

A group of Chin girls from the Kyauksit Valley (Yindus)

 

Burma, 1903

Burma, 1903

 

Burma, 1903.

Burma, 1903.

 

Burma, 1903

Burma, 1903

 

Burma,1903

Burma,1903

In 1989, the military government officially changed the English translations of many names dating back to Burma’s colonial period or earlier, including that of the country itself: “Burma” became “Myanmar”. The renaming remains a contested issue.Many political and ethnic opposition groups and countries continue to use “Burma” because they do not recognise the legitimacy of the ruling military government or its authority to rename the countryMyanmar became an independent nation in 1948, initially as a democratic nation and then, following a coup d’état in 1962, a military dictatorship. While the military dictatorship formally ended in 2011, most of the party leaders are former military officers.

 

Burma

Burma

 

Burmese boxing,1903

Burmese boxing,1903

 

This is the girl in a boy's dress who danced in Mays Warsi compound

This is the girl in a boy’s dress who danced in Mays Warsi compound

 

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For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and Burma’s myriad ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world’s longest-running ongoing civil wars. During this time, the United Nations and several other organisations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country. In 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved following a 2010 general election, and a nominally civilian government was installed. While former military leaders still wield enormous power in the country, Burmese Military have taken steps toward relinquishing control of the government. This, along with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners, has improved the country’s human rights record and foreign relations, and has led to the easing of trade and other economic sanctions. There is, however, continuing criticism of the government’s treatment of the Muslim Rohingya minority and its poor response to the religious clashes.

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Myanmar is a country rich in jade and gems, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources. In 2013, its GDP (nominal) stood at US$56.7 billion and its GDP (PPP) at US$221.5 billion.The income gap in Myanmar is among the widest in the world, as a large proportion of the economy is controlled by supporters of the former military government. As of 2013, according to the Human Development Index (HDI), Myanmar had a low level of human development, ranking 150 out of 187 countries.