Should you say Myanmar or Burma?

You may hear about the two names of Burma and Myanmar for one country. Officially, on paper, the country’s name is Myanmar now. There are stories behind the name changes that you might want to explore more.

History of country name

Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal south. It is bordered in north and northeast by China, in east by Laos and Thailand, in west by Bangladesh and the Indian states of Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. The country is also known as Burma and called the Golden Land.

indein pagoda complex inle

From 1824 to 1948, the country was under the British rule as a province of India. Its official name was “Burma”. After the changes in World War II & Japanese occupation and Independence time, the military government took back control of the country.

By 1989, they changed the country’s official English name from “Union of Burma” to the “Union of Myanmar”; still later to the “Republic of the Union of Myanmar”.

There was a push to establish a national identity among the country’s assortment of ethnic groups. Burma is considered to describe an ethnic only, so Myanmar became the politically correct term, which is supposed to encompass all who live in the country.

Besides, the name change was also a way to rid the country of British colonial influences. Giving cities or countries new proper names is common in post-colonial countries. Similarly, many words have been changed from Burma to Myanmar in the English version. Such as: the formal capital Rangoon became Yangon, Ayeyarwady became Irrawaddy; Maymyo was changed info Pyin Oo Lwin, and Moulmein is now Mawlamyine…

Should it be Burma or Myanmar?

Refer to Myanmar and Burma: the words have the same linguistically and origin. In most cases, Myanmar is more formal than Burma. Myanmar is the written, literary name. Meanwhile, Burma is the colloquial, oral name.

Internationally, the words are interchangeable. Some Western governments, such as Britain United States, Ireland, and Australia continue using “Burma”; while the European Union uses “Burma/Myanmar” as an alternative. The United Nations uses “Myanmar”.  Burmese remains the commonly used adjective. For example: The New York Times, The Economist, and CNN use “Myanmar” as the country name; “Burmese” as the adjective.

Generally, people continue using both of the names without any fuss. So, if you travel to Myanmar, feel free to use the names interchangeably. Most people do!

Burma Tourism

In term of tourism: Burma/Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. The country has just recently opened; it has the potential to become a top tourist destination in the area. Gilded stupas, stepped temples, and candlelit monasteries pepper the landscape, revealing a long spiritual tradition that dates back to the first century C.E. The local lifestyles and attractions stay authentic and natural like they supposed to be. Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake are the most popular destinations. Travelers usually get amazed by the peaceful air and ancient pagodas covered in real gold.

How much do you know about Myanmar or Burma? Visit Myanmar with Burma Travel to find more geography, history and culture quizzes.

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