Here’s a look at Myanmar, a country in southeast Asia formerly known as Burma.
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 676,578 sq km (slightly smaller than Texas)
Population: 55,622,506 (July 2018 est.)
Median age: 28.5 years
Ethnic Groups: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%
GDP (purchasing power parity): $329.8 billion (2017 est.)
GDP per capita: $6,300 (2017 est.)
Unemployment: 4% (2017 est.)
Myanmar shares borders with China, India, Laos, Bangladesh and Thailand.
The United States officially still calls the country Burma.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there were more than 866,000 stateless and internally displaced people in Myanmar in 2018, up from 849,000 in 2017.
The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State thought to number about one million people at the beginning of 2017. Myanmar does not recognize them as citizens or one of the 135 recognized ethnic groups living in the country. According to Human Rights Watch, laws discriminate against the Rohingya, infringing on their freedom of movement, education and employment.
According to the UN’s Inter Sector Coordination Group, 745,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since 2017, bringing the total Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh to more than 913,000. (As of June 2019).
1824-1886 – Burma becomes part of British India after fighting three wars with Great Britain over 62 years.
January 1947 – After negotiating with the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), Great Britain agrees to give Burma its independence.
July 1947 – AFPFL leader Aung San is assassinated.
January 4, 1948 – Burma gains independence from the United Kingdom.
March 1962 – The military government is established under Ne Win after a bloodless coup.
August-October 1988 – Mass anti-government demonstrations take place throughout Burma. The official Radio Rangoon figure is 450 dead; the actual number is believed to be much higher.
September 1988 – Gen. Saw Maung takes over in another military coup.
1989 – Burma changes its name in English to Myanmar and the name of the capital from Rangoon to Yangon.
May 1990 – General elections are called by the junta. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party wins easily, but the military refuses to hand over power.
April 23, 1992 – Gen. Than Shwe replaces Saw Maung as head of the junta.
July 23, 1997 – Myanmar joins the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
March 2006 – Naypyidaw becomes the new administrative capital.
August 19, 2007 – Protests break out in Yangon after the government raises petroleum and diesel prices by 100%.
September 22, 2007 – In her first public appearance in over four years, Suu Kyi greets monks as they march past her house in Yangon.
September 24, 2007 – Buddhist monks lead about 100,000 in the largest anti-government demonstrations since 1988.
September 26, 2007 – As protests continue, Myanmar security forces crack down — clubbing and gassing protestors and arresting as many as 200 monks.
September 30, 2007 – Special UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari meets with Suu Kyi and with military officials (separately) to attempt to resolve the situation.
October 20, 2007 – The UN General Assembly approves a resolution condemning the government crackdown and asking for the release of political protesters.
May 2, 2008 – A cyclone kills more than 70,000 people. The United Nations later estimates that more than two million people are severely affected by the storm.
May 20, 2008 – It is announced that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be allowed to tour the devastated area hit by the cyclone. Also, shipments of aid barred from coming into the country will be allowed in.
June 5-10, 2010 – More than 4,000 ethnic Karen leave Myanmar for Thailand after clashes between the Karen National Union rebel group and the Myanmar army.
June-July 2010 – Floods and landslides kill 68 people and displace thousands.
October 22, 2010 – Cyclone Giri hits Myanmar, leaving at least 27 people dead and close to 75,000 homeless.
November 7, 2010 – Myanmar holds its first elections in 20 years. The Union Solidarity and Development Party, backed by the military, claims victory with 80% of the votes.
November 13, 2010 – Opposition leader Suu Kyi is released from house arrest.
January 31, 2011 – Myanmar convenes its first parliament in more than two decades in the capital, Naypyidaw.
February 4, 2011 – The parliament elects Prime Minister Thein Sein as president. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party boycotts the elections, calling it a sham.
March 30, 2011 – A civilian government is sworn in to replace the military junta.
October 12, 2011 – Dozens of political prisoners are released as part of a mass amnesty.
November 30, 2011 – Hillary Clinton arrives in Myanmar, the first visit by a US secretary of state in more than 50 years.
December 13, 2011 – The National League for Democracy is granted permission to register for future elections in Myanmar.
April 1, 2012 – Suu Kyi wins a seat in parliament in the first multi-party elections since 1990.
April 13, 2012 – British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives in Myanmar. He is the first British prime minister to visit the country.
April 28, 2012 – EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meets with Suu Kyi. The European Union has suspended most of the sanctions it had imposed on Myanmar, citing the “transparent and credible” election that brought Suu Kyi to office and other reforms.
April 29, 2012 – UN Secretary-General Ban arrives in Myanmar to meet with President Thein Sein and Suu Kyi.
May 2, 2012 – Suu Kyi takes the oath of office for Myanmar’s parliament, resolving an impasse that had been preventing her from taking her seat in the legislature. She and 33 other newly elected members of the National League for Democracy had been delaying their swearings-in due to objections to the wording of the oath they would have to take.
June 2012 – Unrest breaks out in the western state of Rakhine. Religious violence leaves more than 200 dead and close to 150,000 homeless — predominantly members of the Rohingya Muslim minority.
November 19, 2012 – US President Barack Obama becomes the first sitting US president to visit Myanmar. He meets with President Thein Sein and activist Suu Kyi.
March 10, 2013 – Suu Kyi wins re-election as Myanmar’s leader of the National League for Democracy.
March 22, 2013 – A state of emergency is declared as ethnic clashes between Muslims and Buddhists lead to killings.
May 2, 2013 – US President Obama extends sanctions against Myanmar for one year while lifting the 1996 visa ban.
May 15, 2014 – Obama extends sanctions against Myanmar for another year.
May 15, 2015 – Obama extends sanctions against Myanmar for another year.
August 3, 2015 – Authorities say that heavy monsoon rains in the past month have left at least 47 people dead and displaced more than 200,000.
August 7, 2015 – Government officials say that the death toll from the flooding has risen to 88 and 330,000 others have been affected.
November 13, 2015 – The Myanmar election commission announces that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party has won the majority in the nation’s first democratically held parliamentary elections. They will choose the country’s next president.
March 15, 2016 – Myanmar’s parliament elects Htin Kyaw as the country’s new president. Htin Kyaw was elected to the position by 360 votes, more than a third of the parliament’s available 652 votes.
October 9, 2016 – About 300 men armed with knives, pistols and swords attack border posts in Rakhine State, killing nine police officers. Rakhine State is home to a large population of Rohingya Muslims. The attacks spark an intense crackdown by the Myanmar military, which they call “clearance operations” in the Rohingya villages to find the suspects involved, and to retrieve their weapons.
February 3, 2017 – A UN report alleges Myanmar’s security forces are waging a brutal campaign of murder, rape and torture in Rakhine State. Aye Aye Soe, a spokeswoman for the Myanmar government, says the government has seen the report and is “very concerned about the allegations” and will investigate.
August 25, 2017 – Myanmar’s state media reports 12 security officers were killed during a series of coordinated attacks targeting at least 20 police outposts and an army base in Rakhine State. An insurgent group known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, formerly known as Harakat al-Yaqeen — or “Faith Movement” — claims responsibility for the attack on Twitter. In response to the attacks, Myanmar’s military renews an offensive inside the state against what it says are “terrorists.”
September 11, 2017 – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein says the continuing Myanmar military operation against the minority Rohingya people appears to be a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” but the full humanitarian situation in Rakhine State can’t be fully assessed because of Myanmar’s refusal to give access.
September 19, 2017 – In a 30-minute televised address from Nyapyidaw, Suu Kyi does not denounce alleged atrocities against the Rohingya community and claims the government needs more time to investigate the exodus of more than 400,000 members of the group from Myanmar. Amnesty International describes the speech — in which Suu Kyi only once refers to the Rohingya by name — as a “mix of untruths and victim blaming.”
December 12, 2017 – According to a report released by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), at least 6,700 Rohingya died as a result of violence in Rakhine state between August 25 and September 24.
December 2017 – Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone are detained after working on an investigation into the mass killing of a number of Rohingya villagers in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
March 12, 2018 – Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee says that Myanmar’s ongoing crackdown on the Rohingya may amount to genocide. She states, “I am becoming more convinced that the crimes committed following 9 October 2016 and 25 August 2017 bear the hallmarks of genocide and call in the strongest terms for accountability.”
March 28, 2018 – Myanmar’s parliament elects Win Myint as the new president.
March 31, 2018 – The UN announces that Myanmar and the United Nations have reached a deal to work together to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in the country in the last year.
May 22, 2018 – An Amnesty International report finds members of the Rohingya militant group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) allegedly massacred dozens of men, women and children, execution-style in Hindu villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017.
September 3, 2018 – After being convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act during their investigation, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone are sentenced to seven years hard labor by a Myanmar court. Reuters, with special mention of the two journalists, is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in April 2019.
September 18, 2018 – A UN fact-finding mission releases an extensive 440-page report detailing atrocities carried out by the Myanmar military against Rohingya Muslims, in support of its call for the country’s generals to face an international tribunal on charges of genocide.
May 7, 2019 – Reuters reporters Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone are released after being jailed for more than 500 days. They are released as part of an amnesty of 6,520 prisoners by President Win Myint.