The Union of Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a country in Southeast Asia. The country has been ruled by a military government since a coup in 1988. The country is becoming an underdeveloped country. It has a population of approximately 54 million.
Previously an independent kingdom, in 1886 Burma was annexed by the British Empire as a part of India. The Japanese invaded and occupied the country during World War II but it was retaken by the British in 1945.
In 1948 the nation became sovereign, as the Union of Burma, with U Nu as the first Prime Minister. Democratic rule ended in 1962 with a military coup led by General Ne Win. Ne Win ruled for nearly 26 years, bringing in harsh reforms. In 1990 free elections were held for the first time in almost 30 years, but the landslide victory of NLD, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi was voided by the military, which refused to step down.
Upon achieving independence in 1948, the country became known as the "Union of Burma", derived from the British spelling of present-day Myanmar. In 1989, the ruling military government renamed the country "The Union of Myanmar". This change has been rejected by opponents of the present-day government, both within and outside of the country, who argue that the government does not have the authority to institute it. The name Union of Myanmar is recognized by the United Nations, but several countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada refer to Myanmar as Burma. Myanmar derives from the Burmese name Myanma naingandaw, which literally translates as "country of Myanmar".
One of the top figures in Burmese history over 20th Century is Army founder and freedom figure General Aung San, a student-turned activist whose daughter is 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate and world's peace, freedom and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi of NLD. The third most recognised figure of Burma in the world is U Thant, the UN Secretary General for two terms and highly respected throughout United Nations' history.
The picture in the History page displays the Burmese map at its heights in the history before 1886. Burmese kings occasionally occupied some parts of China, India, small part of Bangladesh, Laos and mostly the hearts of Thailand's ancient kingdoms for some times in history.