Alt text for imageWomen weave baskets in rural Myanmar Photo: UNDP Myanmar

Myanmar has an estimated population of 51.4 million, consisting of diverse ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages and dialects. It is ranked 150 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. Economic growth has averaged 5 percent in recent years with a per capita income of USD$702.

Myanmar is at an historic stage in its development and is pursuing a reform agenda. Following the coming into effect of a new Constitution in May, 2008, elections and by elections were held in November 2010 and in April 2012 respectively. Parliament and governments have been formed at the national and region/state levels. The President has set out a reform agenda focusing on good governance and ensuring fundamental rights. A number of reforms have already been undertaken in the financial sector, in relaxing media censorship, release of detainees and reaching ceasefire agreements in a number of conflict areas. These reforms are seen as positive steps, which have led to increasing engagement with the international community. Read in Myanmar


Myanmar, formerly known as "Burma" has existed for centuries. Myanmar was organized as a strong union in the early 11th century (Bagan Period) by King Asawrahta. It is generally referred to as the first Union of Myanmar. In the middle of the 16th century, King Bayintnaung established the second Union of Myanmar that used to be one of the mightiest countries in Asia. Myanmar was thirdly unified in 1752 by King Alaungphaya, the founder of the last dynasty of Myanmar. The country was occupied by British in 1885 and gained Independence in 1948.

After being under military rule for fifty years, Myanmar’s transition to civilian rule started under a new Constitution that came into effect in May, 2008. The transition to civilian rule under the new Constitution was the first step in an on-going series of rapid and far-reaching political and economic reforms. Read in Myanmar


Myanmar’s economy largely depends on natural resources and agriculture. Inadequate infrastructure, limited “know-how” and administrative constraints have stifled the manufacturing sector.


Poverty levels are at an estimated 26% of the population. Poverty is twice as high in rural areas where 70% of the population lives. The remote border areas, mainly populated by Myanmar’s minority ethnic groups, and areas emerging from conflict are particularly poor.


Access to electricity is limited to only 26 percent of the population and firewood is a major source of energy for the population.


The country is highly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events, such as the devastating Cyclone Nargis of 2008.  This heightens the risks and vulnerabilities for the rural poor, and particularly women and children and other vulnerable groups, a challenge for which local communities are still unprepared. Read in Myanmar  


Bagan familyA family in Bagan working on the region's world renowned lacquerware peoducts Photo: UNDP Myanmar

Myanmar has made notable progress in poverty reduction. The Government’s target to reduce poverty from 26 per cent in 2010 to 16 per cent by 2015 appears to be achievable because of good performance in recent years, accelerated reforms in economy, and assistance from development partners.

Myanmar has done well to stabilize the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the prevalence among the general population (15-49 years old) is below 1 percent.  Similarly, Myanmar has already achieved the goal of a 50 percent reduction in malaria morbidity and mortality since 2007.  The TB incidence rate has declined since 1995 and the target of halving TB mortality compared with 1990 levels was met in 2010. The TB-related Millennium Development Goals are likely to be achieved by 2015. Read in Myanmar