192-Part Guide to the World Part 29 Burma

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OFFICIAL NAME

Union of Myanmar. The name "Burma" has never been used by the Burmese themselves; we use it here for ease of recognition.

MOST FAMOUS CITIZEN

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who, through her dignified resistance to the military junta which controls Burma, has been internationally recognised as a hero of our times.

MOST RECENT NEWS STORY

Rachel Goldwyn, a British peace-activist, recently spent time in a Burmese jail after chaining herself to a lamp-post and singing freedom songs.

POPULATION

A proper census has not been taken for years but the population is estimated to be around 46 million.

SIZE

671,000 square kilometres (about 22 times bigger than Belgium).

BEST MONUMENT

The magnificent temple ruins at Bagan are the country's number one tourist attraction. In all directions for about 40 square miles, stupas, temples and 800-year-old ruins of every shape and size literally litter the landscape.

NATIONAL DISH

Rice is the essence of any Burmese meal, usually eaten together with mild curry dishes of prawns, chicken, fish or mutton - but almost never beef or pork. A strange accompaniment to almost every meal is ngapi, a salty paste concocted from dried and fermented shrimp or fish, not always enjoyed by foreigners. …