Located in Eastern Asia, Burma has a long and rich History. Although Burma gained its independence from the British Empire in 1945, there is archaeological evidence of small settlements since Prehistory and early History. The kingdom of Pagan, established in the 9th century, is usually considered one of the first successful administrations in the History of Burma.
King Anawrahta was able to unify Burma in 1057, but Tartar and Mongol invasions prompted a decline. It was not until the rule of Bayinnaung, in the 16th century, that we can find a unified Burma for the first time in history. His rule stretched over Thailand and Laos, although his dominion was divided after his death in 1581.
British Rule in Burma
The 19th century was a very eventful period in Burma History. General Maha Bandula’s expansion in Assam triggered the first Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826). After two more wars, Burma became a British colonial territory in 1886. Burma was annexed by the British as a province of British India, but it was not until the 1920s that the first serious protests against British rule begun. A movement for national independence developed in the 1930s, forcing Britain to separate Burma from India in 1937.
The events of the Second World War triggered the Japanese occupation of Burma in 1942. After making a deal with the British, the Burmese leader Aung San was able to negotiate the independence of Burma from Britain. For the first time in recent History, Burma was free to govern itself in 1948. A constitution was drafted (the first in this country’s History) and Burma enjoyed a democratic government for ten years.
General Ne Win established a dictatorship in 1962, suspending the constitution and closing the country from the outside world for the first time in its History. More than 10,000 demonstrators died in 1988 following a series of protests and riots, forcing the the Government to announce the holding of elections in 1990. The National League for Democracy (NLD) founded by Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landslide, but the military Government didn’t recognize the results.
After Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in 2002, the military Government has gradually started to change its political stance towards democracy. After Khin Nyunt was replaced as Prime Minister in 2004, the new Government decided to celebrate a democratic referendum in 2008. The military junta was dissolved three years later and the National League for Democracy was able to obtain a clear majority in the 2012 elections, to the delight of the civil society. As a result of this, Aung San Suu Kyi has announced that she has the intention of running for the Presidency of her country in 2015.