Burma quick facts
Area: 678,500 square kilometres, a bit larger than Alberta.
Location: Southeast Asia, bordering Bangladesh, China, India, Laos and Thailand.
Capital: Rangoon, although Naypyidaw has been the administrative capital since 2006.
Administrative divisions: Seven divisions, which are primarily ethnically Burmese, and seven states, each home to a particular ethnic minority.
Government type: Military junta.
Head of state: Senior Gen. Than Shwe.
Major religions: Buddhist (89 per cent), Christian (four per cent), Muslim (four per cent).
Life expectancy: 62.94 years (60.73 years male, 65.28 years female).
Natural resources: Petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead and coal, among others.
History: Burma was part of Britain's Indian Empire until 1937, when it became a self-governing colony. Burma gained its independence from Britain in 1948.
Since 1989, the military junta has promoted the use of the names Myanmar for the country, derived from the local name Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw, and Yangon for the capital city. The country's ruling generals say these better reflect the country's pre-colonial place names.
Burma is the world's second-largest producer of illicit opium, after Afghanistan.