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General Information

Basic information
Burmese Area: 676,577 sq.km.
Capital: Yangon
Population: 48.08 million
Language: Myanmar (0fficial) English
Religion: Buddhism
Local Time: GMT +6 1/2
Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz (when it's working)
Weights & measures: Imperial with local variations

Visas
Entry into Myanmar requires a passport valid for at least six months from the time of entry. 28-day tourist visas are issued and cost US$18

Climate

Myanmar beachMyanmar has three seasons; the monsoon or rainy season from May to October; the cool season from November to February and the hot season from March to May. The average temperature ranges from 32?C in central and lower areas to 21?C in the northern highlands.


Currency

Kyat (Kt) = 100 pyas. Kt. 100,000 is known as a lakh, and Kt 10 million as a crore. Kyat is pronounced like the English word 'chat'.
Kyat, made up of 100 pyas. Currency notes come in the following denominations: K 1,000, K 500, K 200, K 100,K 90, K 50, K 45, K 20, K 15, K 10, K 5, K 1 and coins K 100, K 50, K 10, K 5, K 1 and Pya 50.

Culture
Burmese costumsArt has been closely intertwined with religion and royalty in Burman history. Temples, pagodas and palaces displayed the artistic skills of painters, wood carvers and sculptures. Temples and pagodas were traditionally built of brick and many are still standing. The great palaces, however, were made of wood, and only one badly-deteriorating example of these beautiful carved structures remains today. Art and architecture, which relied on royal support, faded when the last royal kingdom collapsed.

Although court culture has been extinguished, popular street-level culture is vibrant and thriving. Drama is the mainstay of this culture, and just about any celebration is a good excuse for a pwe (show). Performances may recount Buddhist legends, or be more light-hearted entertainments involving slapstick comedy, dance, ensemble singing or giant puppets. Burman music is an integral part of a pwe; it originates from Siam and emphasises rhythm and melody. Instruments are predominantly percussive and include drums, boat-shaped harps, gongs and bamboo flutes.

Religion
Over 85% of the Burman population is Theravada Buddhist, although it is not the official state religion and since the Ne Win government takeover, it has actually officially occupied a less central role in Burman life. In the Rakhine region, towards Bangladesh, there are many Muslims. Christian missionaries have had some success among hill tribes but many remain staunch animists.

Language
Burmese is the predominant language and has its own alphabet and script. Though you're hardly going to have time to master the alphabet, it may be worth learning the numerals, if only so you can read the bus numbers. English is spoken by a few Burmans, particularly by the older generation.

Food
It's easier to buy authentic Burman dishes from food stalls rather than restaurants. Chinese and Indian eateries predominate, and hotel restaurants tend to remove much of the chilli and shrimp paste from their Burman dishes. Rice is the core of any Burman meal.

To this is added a number of curry options and a spicy raw vegetable salad, and almost everything is flavoured with ngapi - a dried and fermented shrimp paste. Chinese tea is generally preferable to the over-strong, over-sweet and over-milky Burman tea. Sugar-cane juice is a very popular streetside drink, and stronger tipples include orange brandy, lychee wine and the alarming-sounding white liquor and jungle liquor.

 
     

 

 

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