Myanmar/Burma: Background, Economic Conditions, and Tourism

  • Scott Hipsher


Linguistic similarities indicate it is likely there was some immigration in ancient times into Myanmar/Burma from parts of India, Nepal, and Tibet. From an early time, Buddhism has been an important part of the country’s culture, and eventually, the Theravada form came to dominate. In addition to Mon-controlled civilizations, early kingdoms in the country included the Pyu, Bagan, and Ava. Military leaders who consolidated power and helped create the modern country include Tabinshweti, Bayinnaung, and Alaungpaya. Ethnic divisions have plagued the country for decades and might have been exacerbated by becoming a British colony. Upon independence, the country became a democracy led by U Nu, who tried to use a political philosophy built upon Buddhist and socialist ideals to govern the country. Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country resulted in a military-led government using the “Burmese way to socialism” as an economic foundation. The economy stagnated during the military rule which appears to be being replaced by a limited form of democracy. Despite optimism brought by the economic and political reforms, the country remains relatively poor with many challenges to overcome to accelerate economic growth. It is proposed an increased role of tourism in the country could have positive effects on economic growth and poverty reduction.


  1. Alamgir, J. (2008). Myanmar’s foreign trade and its political consequences. Asian Survey, 48(6), 977–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asian Development Bank. (2012). The greater Mekong subregion at 20: Progress and prospects. Mandaluyong City: Asian Development Bank.Google Scholar
  3. Asian Development Bank. (2015). Asian development outlook 2015: Financing Asia’s future growth. Mandaluyong City: Asian Development Bank.Google Scholar
  4. Asian Development Bank. (2017). Asian development outlook 2017. Transcending the middle income challenge. Mandaluyong City: Asian Development Bank.Google Scholar
  5. Aung, L. H. (2016). Democratic myths in Myanmar’s transition. ISEAS Perspective, 2016–65.Google Scholar
  6. Aung, L. H. (2017). Separating facts from assumptions in Myanmar’s democratization. ISEAS Perspective, 2017–12.Google Scholar
  7. Aung San Suu Kyi. (2013). Democracy and development in Asia. Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, 1(1), 117–127.Google Scholar
  8. Aung Thwin, M. (1996). The myth of the “Three Shan Brothers” and the Ava period in Burmese history. The Journal of Asian Studies, 55(4), 881–901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bischoff, R. (1995). Buddhism in Myanmar: A short history. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.Google Scholar
  10. Bode, M. H. (1898). A Burmese history of Buddhism. Doctoral dissertation, University of Berne.Google Scholar
  11. Carbine, J. (2004). An ethic of continuity: Shwegyin Monks and the Sasana in contemporary Burma/Myanmar. Doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  12. Chakmas, S. (2015, November 21). Will Suu Kyi pose threat to a democratic Myanmar. Bangkok Post, A9.Google Scholar
  13. Clapp, P. (2010). Prospects for rapprochement between the United States and Myanmar. Contemporary South East Asia, 32(3), 409–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dai, Y. (2004). A disguised defeat: The Myanmar campaign of the Qing dynasty. Modern Asian Studies, 38(1), 145–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dautremer, J., translated by Sir George Scott (1913). Burma under British rule. London: T. Fisher Unwin.Google Scholar
  16. Dittmer, L. (2008). Burma vs. Myanmar: What’s in a name? Asian Survey, 48(6), 885–888.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Egreteau, R. (2015). Military delegates in Myanmar’s legislature: What do they do? What will they (continue to) do? Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Perspective, 2015–2021.Google Scholar
  18. Ewing-Chow, M. (2007). First do no harm: Myanmar trade sanctions and human rights. Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights, 5(2), 153–180.Google Scholar
  19. Farrelly, N. (2015). Beyond electoral authoritarianism in transitional Myanmar. European Journal of East Asian Studies, 14, 15–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Farrelly, N., & Olinga-Shannon, S. (2015). Establishing contemporary Chinese life in Myanmar. Trends in Southeast Asia, 2015–15.Google Scholar
  21. Freeman, N. J. (2015). Betwixt ‘Burmese’ cottages and cronies: The political economy of ‘Myanmar Inc.’ ISEAS Perspective, 2015–7.Google Scholar
  22. Freeman, N. J. (2017). Whither the Yangon stock exchange? ISEAS Perspective, 2017–13.Google Scholar
  23. Goh, G. Y. (2007). Cakkrvatiy Anuruddha and the Buddhist Oikoumene: Historical narratives of kingship and religious networks in Burma, Northern Thailand and Sri Lanka (11th–14th centuries). Doctoral dissertation, University of Hawaii.Google Scholar
  24. Green, N. (2015). Buddhism, Islam and the religious economy of colonial Burma. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 46, 75–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hoang Thi Ha, & Ye Htut (2016). Rakhine crisis challenges ASEAN’s non-interference principle. ISEAS Perspective, 2016–70.Google Scholar
  26. Hall, K. R. (1992). Economic history of early Southeast Asia: Early economic development. In N. Tarling (Ed.), The Cambridge history of Southeast Asia, volume 2 (pp. 185–275). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Higham, C. (2001). Archaeology in Myanmar: Past, present and future. Asian Perspectives, 40(1), 127–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hlaing, K. Y. (2005). Myanmar in 2004: Why military rule continues. Southeast Asian Affairs, 2005, 231–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hlaing, K. Y. (2008). Power and factional struggles in post-independence Burmese governments. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 39(1), 149–177.Google Scholar
  30. Horsey, R. (2008). The dramatic events of 2007 in Myanmar: Domestic and international implications. In M. Skidmore & T. Wilson (Eds.), Dictatorship, disorder and decline (pp. 13–28). Canberra: ANU Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hudson, B. (2006). The origins of Bagan: The archaeological landscape of Upper Burma to AD 1300. Doctoral dissertation, University of Sydney Digital Theses.Google Scholar
  32. Index of Economic Freedom. (2017). Asia Pacific: Burma. In T. Miller & A. B. Kim (Eds.), 2017 index of economic freedom (pp. 122–123). Washington DC/New York: Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal.Google Scholar
  33. James, H. (2004). King Solomon’s judgment. NBR Analysis, 15(1), 55–66.Google Scholar
  34. Jirattikorn, A. (2015). Managing migration in Myanmar and Thailand; economic reforms, policies, practices and challenges. Trends in Southeast Asia, 2015–9.Google Scholar
  35. Kaw, E. (2005). Buddhism and education in Burma: Varying conditions for a social ethos in the path to “Nibbana.” Doctoral dissertation, Princeton University.Google Scholar
  36. Kipgen, N. (2015). Ethnicity in Myanmar and its importance to the success of democracy. Ethnopolitics, 14(1), 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kubo, K. (2013). Myanmar’s two decades of partial transition to a market economy: A negative legacy for the new government. Post-Communist Economies, 25(3), 357–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Li, Y. (2015). Yunnanese Chinese in Myanmar: Past and present. Trends in Southeast Asia, 2015–12.Google Scholar
  39. Meyer, K. E., & Thein, H. H. (2014). Business under adverse home country institutions: The case of international sanctions against Myanmar. Journal of World Business, 49(1), 156–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Min, W. (2009). Looking inside the Burmese military. Asian Survey, 48(6), 1018–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar. (2013). Myanmar tourism master plan 2013–2020. Nay Pyi Taw: Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar.Google Scholar
  42. Naing, T. H., & Yao, S. F. (2016). Multinationals, technology and regional linkages in Myanmar’s clothing industry. Asia Pacific Business Review, 22(1), 131–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Oh, S. A. (2015). On the Rohingya, statelessness and “trafficking.” Separating the fundamental from the sensational. ISEAS Perspective, 2015–32.Google Scholar
  44. Oh, S. A., & Andrews-Speed, P. (2015). Chinese investment and Myanmar’s shifting political landscape. Trends in Southeast Asia, 2015–16.Google Scholar
  45. Phayee, A. P. (1883). History of Burma including Burma proper, Pegu, Taungu, Tenasserim, and Arakan: From the earliest time to the end of the first war with British India. London: Trubner.Google Scholar
  46. Pick, D., & Thein, H. H. (2010). Development failure and the resource curse: The case of Myanmar. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 30(5/6), 267–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Roberts, C. (2006). Myanmar and the argument for engagement: A clash of contending moralities. East Asia, 23(2), 34–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Seekins, D. M. (2009). Myanmar in 2008: Hardship, compounded. Asian Survey, 49(1), 166–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Smeaton, D. M. (1920). Loyal Karens of Burma (2nd ed.). London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.Google Scholar
  50. Steinberg, D. I. (2004). A guide for the perplexed? NBR Analysis, 15(1), 41–54.Google Scholar
  51. Taylor, K. W. (1992). The early kingdoms. In N. Tarling (Ed.), The Cambridge history of Southeast Asia, volume 1 (pp. 137–182). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Taylor, R. H. (2015a). Refighting old battles, compounding misconceptions: The politics of ethnicity in Myanmar today. ISEAS Perspective, 2015–2012.Google Scholar
  53. Taylor, R. H. (2015b). The armed forces in Myanmar politics: A terminating role? Trends in Southeast Asia, 2015–2.Google Scholar
  54. Taylor, R. H. (2017). Myanmar’s military and the dilemma of federalism. ISEAS Perspective, 2017–7.Google Scholar
  55. Thalong, J. N., Wangsamuth, N., Jitcharoenkul, P., & Kamjan, C. (2015, October 25). What the vote means for Thailand. Bangkok Post, A.1.Google Scholar
  56. Thant, M.-U. (2006). The river of lost footprints: A history of Burma. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.Google Scholar
  57. Walton, M. J. (2008). Ethnicity, conflict, and history in Burma: The myths of Panglong. Asian Survey, 48(6), 889–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wilson, T., & Skidmore, M. (2008). Overview. In M. Skidmore & T. Wilson (Eds.), Dictatorship, disorder and decline (pp. 1–9). Canberra: ANU Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott Hipsher
    • 1
  1. 1.Webster University ThailandBangkokThailand

Personalised recommendations