GEOGRAPHICAL SITUATION OF BURMA

Geographical situation, capital city and natural catastrophes

   Burma (Myanmar) is a south-east Asian country situated in the Indochinese peninsula. It has an area of 678 500 Km2 (France: 547 030 km2). It is bordered by the autonomous region of Tibet (China) to the north, China, Laos and Thailand to the east, the Andaman Sea and the gulf of Thailand to the south and the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh and India to the west.   

In principle, Burma forms a federal union (thereby it has been known as Burma’s Union until 1989, since then: Myanmar’s Union). It is composed of non-Burmese populations in the north (numerous ethnic groups) and Burmese people in the south.

 

A New capital-city created in the jungle

   The capital-city of YANGON was replaced by NAYPYIDAW in 2005. Whereas Yangon is the largest city of the country and is situated in the Irrawaddy delta, 300km within land, Naypyidaw was built from scratch in a remote area. Various assumptions were made concerning the hasty move of governmental institutions to Naypyidaw, in 2005. One reason seemed to be the government’s will to protect itself from outside invasions as well as inner popular upheaval which had undermined their power in 1988.

But other esoteric reasons should also be taken into account. Indeed, there has always been strong links between astrology and power in Burma. The people’s dissatisfaction and the large 1988 demonstrations were partially due to the fact General Ne Win, Burma’s President at the time, had, on his spiritual counselor’s advice (a kind of “astrologer-magus”), decided to replace all bank-notes by new ones whose value was multiplied by 9, his lucky number. Therefore, it is not surprising that the move to Nay Pyi Daw, which took place at a special hour determined by the lunar calendar, was influenced by the junta’s astrologers.

 

Burma is exposed to a wide range of natural hazards,

   Among which are: typhoons, floods, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, insect raids and season fires. Climatic changes have harmful consequences on the country which undergoes erratic rain seasons, floods and droughts. It is also vulnerable to earthquakes as it is crossed by three substantial tectonic layers. In May 2008, the extremely high toll (around 140,000 deaths) and important material damage caused by Nargis Typhoon clearly showed the high degree of vulnerability the Ayeyarwaddy Delta population was exposed to.

Therefore, it is easy to foresee that major catastrophes in Burma will mean high death rate, massive infrastructure damage and great psycho-sociological impact.

An average of one destructive typhoon is to be recorded every ten year. (Various sources)



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