Interesting Facts about Myanmar
As a neighbouring country, we know very little about Myanmar. The media of our country covers only the political issues of that country. Thanks to the political instability, it is not a popular tourist destination, although there are some long and beautiful sandy beaches. In this article, we are trying to give you an insight into the culture and traditions of Myanmar. Maybe it will encourage you to dive deep into the country’s various issues.
Myanmar or Burma
Perhaps you already noticed that some people call the country Myanmar, whereas others refer to it as Burma. This is strange and somewhat unique. If you are familiar with the novels and stories of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, you have learned about Burma. What is the difference between Burma and Myanmar?
Myanmar was a colony of Britain for more than a hundred years, from 1824 to 1948. The British used to call the country Burma. The name is derived from the dominant Bamar ethnic group that makes up 70% of the population.
The capital of Burma was Rangoon. In 1989, the military regime took the initiative to review the place names of Burma in the English language. Thus the official English name of the country was changed from the “Union of Burma” to “Union of Myanmar”. Later it was changed to the “Republic of the Union of Myanmar”. Many democratic countries didn’t recognize the junta’s rule, therefore, didn’t recognize the name change. So, they prefer to mention the previous name.
Officially it is ‘Myanmar’ now, so we should not call it ‘Burma’.
The Longyi in Myanmar
Like ours, Longyi (Lungi) is a popular dress in Myanmar. The difference is that it is worn by both men and women. This traditional large 2-metre cloth is wrapped around the bottom half of the body. Unlike ours, the people of Myanmar wear longyi outside the home, and you’ll see men wearing longyi with a shirt when they go to the office. Women are also seen in longyi in the shopping centres.
However, there are differences between the longyi of males and females. The patterns and how the knot is tied are not the same. Men allow their knot to hang out the front, whereas women tuck it inside.
Myanmar still uses the imperial system
Myanmar is one of the few countries that still use the imperial system of measurement. The imperial system uses old-fashioned units, such as inches and miles rather than centimetres and kilometres, to measure things. Imperial units have mostly been replaced with the metric system. The imperial system is usually used in the United Kingdom and some other commonwealth countries.
So, you need to be careful when you’re looking at the Myanmar facts and figures to make sure you get the right measurement.
The capital city that appeared overnight
What is the capital city of Myanmar? No, it’s not Yangon. Naypyidaw is the modern capital of Myanmar. It replaced Yangon as the administrative capital of Myanmar on 6 November 2005, and the official name was revealed to the public on 27 March 2006.
What is surprising is that this capital city has been built secretly, and even the government staff didn’t know before the announcement of shifting the capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw. The city is about 320 kilometres away from Yangon. The capital city is an entirely planned city with roads so long and straight that they resemble runways. It is the third-largest city in Myanmar, and the population density is very low.
The capital city is more centrally located than the old capital. It is also a transportation hub located near three of the states of Myanmar. Also, the old capital was too congested and crowded, with little room for future expansion of government offices. The construction was completed between 2002 and 2012.
Bizzare way to get the waiters’ attention
Suppose you are sitting in a restaurant and want to draw the waiter’s attention. What do you do? Although most people wave their hands or try to catch the waiter’s eye to call them over to the table, in Myanmar, people make kissing sound two or three times in the direction of the person. It may seem extremely rude in most of the countries, but it is very normal in Myanmar.
Mixture of various cultures
The country is home to more than 135 different ethnicities. If you look into the geographical facts of Myanmar, you can see that several groups live in different regions. Each has its own culture and traditions. You can find some with a special one-legged rowing technique at Inle Lake, and others wear heavy rings to stretch their necks. The main ethnic group, the Bamar, make up about 70% of the population.
Myanmar is a cultural melting pot of ethnicities. This can make it perfect for a cultural travel experience and allow you to meet and interact with lots of different people.