Myanmar is situated in Southeast Asia and is bordered on the north and northeast by China; on the east and southeast by Laos and Thailand respectively; on the south by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal; and on the west by Bangladesh and India. The country covers an area of 677,000 square kilometers (261,228 square miles), ranging 936 kilometers (581 miles) from east to west and 2,051 kilometers (1,275 miles) from north to south. Myanmar shares a 2,185-kilometre border with China. The second-longest border is shared with Thailand (1,800 kilometers) followed by India (1,463 kilometers), Laos (235 kilometers) and Bangladesh (193 kilometers).
The central lowlands are ringed by steep, rugged highlands. The lowest point is the Andaman Sea and the highest point is Mt Hkakabo Razi in Kachin State, at 5,881 meters.
Myanmar has three main seasons: a hot season, rainy season and cold season. Hot season is from March to May, rainy season is from June to October and cold season is from November to February. The tropical monsoon is usually cloudy and rainy, while hot season is hot and humid and the cold season features mild temperatures and lower humidity. Rainfall is scant in both summer and winter.
Myanmar is rich in natural resources, including petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, marble, limestone, precious stones and natural gas.
Myanmar is made up of 135 national races, of which the main groups are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. Population is estimated to be more than 60 million, of which Bamar are thought to make up about two-thirds. The nationality is Myanmar. Some of the smaller ethnic groups include Akha, Palaung, Padaung, Naga, Taron and Eng. The mains religions are Buddhism, Christian and Muslim. The major language is Myanmar, but minority ethnic groups have their own languages. English is widely spoken and understood.
The earliest known primate is referred to as Pondaung Man – named after the area in northern Myanmar where he was found – who lived about 40 million years ago. More recently several city states emerged, followed by what are known as the three Myanmar Empires. The earliest major civilization was known as the Pyu. Later, King Anawrahta of Bagan (1044-1077AD) created the first Myanmar Empire. The second Myanmar Empire was created by King Bayinnaung of the Taungoo Dynasty (1551-1581AD), while the third Myanmar Empire was led by King Alaungpaya of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1760AD). These three great kings are well-known in Myanmar history for their bravery and leadership. After the country fell under British rule in 1885, King Thibaw, Queen Supayalat and the royal family were taken to Ratanagiri in India. Myanmar remained a British colony until independence on January 4, 1948.