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Myanmar

Interesting facts
Fishermen on Inle Lake in Myanmar are famous for fishing on one leg. The local Intha people developed the unusual technique over centuries to enable fishing and rowing at the same time. Standing allows the fishermen to see through the reeds that lie just beneath the surface in the shallow waters of the lake.

Myanmar was known as Burma until 1989 when the military junta renamed the country Myanmar. The capital, Rangoon, became Yangon. Several days of demonstrations followed but the name has stuck.

In 2006, the capital city was moved, rebuilt and named Naypyidaw. The purpose-built city has a 20-lane highway, golf courses, fast wifi and reliable electricity. The only thing it doesn’t appear to have is people: the population is just 924,608 compared with Yangon’s 7,360,703!

The previous capital city, Yangon (formerly Rangoon), is home to the gilded Shwedagon Paya. It is believed to enshrine eight hairs of Gautama Buddha and is one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites.

Myanmar was considered a pariah state while under the rule of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the politically charged daughter of national hero Aung San, spent a total of 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2011. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her “non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights”.

During this time, Suu Kyi and her party (the National League for Democracy or NLD) called for a tourism boycott, reasoning that the bulk of tourist dollars went straight to the generals.

Her entreaty lasted until her release in late 2010. Shortly thereafter, the NLD issued a statement lifting the boycott.

Finally, in November 2015, the NLD opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi won enough seats in parliamentary elections to form a government.

Currently, Suu Kyi and the NLD face international criticism for their handling of a crisis in the Muslim-majority Rakhine region. The country has been accused of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and there have been calls for Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked.

A Buddhist monastery called Taung Kalat sits atop a volcanic plug rising 170m (558ft) above the slope of Mount Popa, the 1,518m (4,980ft) volcano on which it stands. Volcanic plugs like Taung Kalat are formed when magma hardens within a vent of an active volcano. Today, Mount Popa and Taung Kalat are regarded as sacred sites home to 37 venerated ‘nats’ (spirits).

 

 
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