1962-1974 Myanmar since 1989

Burma, 1974-1989

Administration . In 1974, a new constitution went into force which declared Burma a socialist state. The presidency was held by Ne Win (1962-1981), then by San Yu (1981-1988).
Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of independence activist Aung San (-1947), in 1987 gained prominence as protagonist for non-violent resistance against the dictatorial regime. In reaction to riots and demonstrations, the military staged a coup d'etat; a State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) was established (1988). In 1989, the country was renamed Myanmar, the capital's name changed from Rangoon to Yangon; elections were held in 1990.

Foreign Relations . Burma pursued a rather isolationist policy and maintained strong ties to the PR China. In 1975, Burma and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam established diplomatic relations. Military conflicts between government forces and ethnic minorities caused the exodus of refugees (1978 Rohingyas, to Bangladesh; since 1984 Karenni and Karen into Thailand). The cultivation of opium in areas held by the Shan State Army was of international concern.
In 1983 a delegation of politicians from South Korea visiting Burma on a state visit fell victim to an assassination plot. Agents from North Korea had planted a bomb; South Korean president Chun Doo Hwan, at that time in Burma, was fortunate not to be among the victims.

Relations among Ethnic Groups . The cancellation of Burma's federal constitution in 1962 resulted in the ethnic minorities rising in (low-scale) rebellion; a number of rebel armies was formed. Most of them took to guerilla warfare, as they were not capable of taking on the government forces in the open. The Shan State Army under Khun Sa controlled much of Shan State, which was developed into one of the world's most prolific opium cultivation regions, the Golden Triangle.
In 1978 government forces conducted the King Dragon Operation in Rakhine State, against Muslim Rohingya rebels; the operation caused the exodus of 300,000 refugees into Bangladesh; many later were repatriated.

The Economy . Burma's economy traditionally had been weak; legitimate export products included rice, cotton, lumber, minerals, rubber. Under nationalized regime, the mines and plantations lost in productivity. The Oil Crisis of 1973 hit Burma hard, because now less hard currency was available for vital imports such as machinery, vehicles etc.
In the mountainous regions inhabited by ethnic minorities and controlled by rebel movements, opium was produced (the so-called Golden Triangle being for one time the world's largest opium producer).
In 1987 the Burmese currency, the Kyat, was devaluated; vehement anti-government protest and violent riots followed.
In 1974, Burma produced 8.5 million metric tons of rice; the number for 1989 was 13.8 million metric tons (IHS p.201).

Social History . J. Lahmeyer estimates the population of Burma in 1974 at 29.5 million, in 1989 at 40.0 million.
The isolationist, socialist and repressive policies of the Burmese government resulted in Burma having a low per-capita income, in the populace suffering from a shortage in a range of commodities. The devaluation of the Kyat in 1987 caused inflation, which triggered the 8888 uprising.

Cultural Policy . In 1980 tv broadcasting began. The media are state-controlled.

Timeline Burma, 1057-2002, from BBC News
Article Golden Triangle, Ne Win, Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma, Burma Socialist Programme Party, Burmese Way to Socialism, King Dragon Operation in Arakan, Rohingya People, Khun Sa, 8888 Uprising, from Wikipedia
Myanmar Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers, from Press Reference
Myanmar, from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vietnam
DOCUMENTS Myanmar Statesmen, from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon)
Myanmar, from Population Statistics (J. Lahmeyer)
REFERENCE IHS : International Historical Statistics : Africa, Asia & Oceania 1750-2000, edited by B.R. Mitchell, Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan 4th ed. 2003
Article : Burma, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1974 p.165, 1975 pp.149-150, 1976 pp.176-177, 1977 p.180, 1978 p.233, 1979 pp.230-231, 1980 pp.228-229, 1981 pp.225-226, 1982 pp.225-226, 1983 p.223, 1984 pp.219-220, 1985 pp.515, 648, 1986 pp.509-510, 644, 1987 pp.479, 613, 1988 pp.437, 565, 1989 pp.436-437, 565 [G]
Article : Myanmar, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1990 pp.456-457, 679 [G]
Article : Burma, in : The Statesman's Year-Book 1975-1976 pp.797-801, 1976-1977 pp.803-808, 1978-1979 pp.246-251, 1979-1980 pp.245-250, 1980-1981 pp.246-252, 1981-1982 pp.252-257, 1983-1984 pp.250-254, 1984-1985 pp.249-253, 1985-1986 pp.251-255, 1986-1987 pp.254-258, 1987-1988 pp.253-257, 1988-1989 pp.252-256, 1989-1990 pp.254-257 [G]
Article : Burma, in : The World in Figures 1st ed. 1976 pp.164-165, 2nd ed. 1978 pp.164-165, 4th ed. 1984 pp.164-165 [G]
Article : Burma, in : Americana Annual 1974 p.149, 1976 pp.146-147, 1988 p.157, 1989 pp.153-154, 1990 pp.151-152 [G]
Article : Burma, in : Yearbook on International Communist Affairs 1976 pp.245-250 (Klaus Fleischmann), 1980 pp.228-231 (Jon A. Wiant) [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 17th 2002, last revised on May 31st 2007

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