1945-1948 1962-1974

Burma, 1948-1962

Administration . Independence was granted on January 4th 1948. The AFPFL was the dominant political force until 1958. U Nu was PM from 1948 to 1956, from 1957 to 1958 and from 1960 to 1962; his tenure in office was interrupted by the tenure of General Ne Win (1958-1960) who took on the post as a caretaker, when the AFPFL split; Ne Win was to oust U Nu in a coup d'etat in 1962.

Civil War . Only months after independence, Burma deteriorated into civil war, the government forces facing several Communist factions (Red Flag Communists, Pro-Soviet, led by Thakin Soe; White Flag Communists (pro-Chinese) as well as ethnic/religious rebel groups. The civil war was faught on low scale; in 1952 the government numbered the casualties on their side as 3,424 dead. In 1956-1958, an end to both the Communist rebellion and to that in Arakan was negotiated; the Karen National Union continued to fight.

Foreign Policy . Burma joined the UN in 1948; Burma's U Nu was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1949, when the Chinese Civil War ended, elements of the Kuomintang forces crossed into Burma, where they established a base in Shan State, from where they occasionally would launch strikes into the PR China.
In 1961 Burmese statesman U Thant was elected secretary general of the United Nations, a post he held until 1971.

Inter-Ethnic Relations . Burma adopted a federalist constitution; the Kachin, Shan, Kayah (Karenni), Karen, Rakhine (Arakanese) and Chin minorities were given autonomous states. U Nu treated Buddhism as state religion, a policy which alienated the Muslim Rohingya of Arakan, the Christian elements among the Kachin, Karenni, Karen and Chin. Much of Shan State was outside of the control of the central government, due to the presence of KMT forces.

The Economy . In 1952 a currency reform was implemented; the Burmese Kyat replaced the Burmese Rupee.
In 1948, Burma produced 5.2 million metric tons of rice, in 1962 7.6 million metric tons (IHS pp.194, 201).

Social History . J. Lahmeyer estimates the population of Burma in 1948 at 18.1 million, the figure for 1962 being 22.6 million.

Cultural History . In 1954-1956, the Sixth World Buddhist Synod was convened in Rangoon.

Timeline Burma, 1057-2002, from BBC News
Biography of U Thant, from un.org
Articles Post-Independence Burma 1947-1962, Communist Party of Burma, AFPFL, Buddhism in Myanmar, U Nu, from Wikipedia
Karen War of Independence, 1948-present, from ACED
Burma : The Party System 1950-1956 and 1957-1962, from Kenneth Janda, Political Parties : A Cross-National Survey (1980)
DOCUMENTS Myanmar Statesmen, from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon)
Myanmar, from Population Statistics (J. Lahmeyer)
U Nu: Burma Looks Ahead, 1951, from Modern History Sourcebook
Agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Pakistan and Ceylon on the one hand and the Government of Burma on the other hand respecting a Loan of [sterling]6,000,000 to be made by the Five Commonwealth Governments to the Government of Burma (Rangoon, 28 June 1950), from Australian Treaty Series
Treaty of Friendship between India and the Union of Burma, July 7th 1951, from India Bilateral Treaties
Agreement on Trade and Commerce between India and the Union of Burma, Sept. 5th 1956, from India Bilateral Treaties
Agreement on Trade and Commerce between India and the Union of Burma, Dec. 24th 1962, from India Bilateral Treaties
UN General Assembly 2nd Session 1947-1948, Resolution No.188; 7th Session 1952-1953, Resolution No.707; 8th Session 1953-1954, Resolution No.717; 9th Session 1954-1955, Resolution No.815
REFERENCE IHS : International Historical Statistics : Africa, Asia & Oceania 1750-2000, edited by B.R. Mitchell, Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan 4th ed. 2003
Article : Burma, Union of, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1949 pp.138-140, 1950 pp.138-139 [G]
Article : Burma, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1951 pp.134-135, 1952 pp.132-133, 1953 pp.133-134, 1954 pp.134-135, 1955 pp.192-193, 1956 pp.130-131, 1957 pp.189-190, 1958 pp.127-128, 1959 p.130, 1960 p.129, 1961 p.127, 1962 pp.114-115 [G]
Article : Union of Burma, in : Americana Annual 1957 pp.114-116, 1961 pp.101-103 [G]
Article : Burma, in : Americana Annual 1962 pp.99-101, 1963 pp.107-108 [G]
Article : Burma, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1952 pp.80-81, 1961 pp.52-53 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 17th 2002, last revised on September 28th 2007

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