Burma's coastline defines the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal, running from the Bangladesh border in the northwest down to the Malay Peninsula and Thai territory in the southeast. Southern Burma consists largely of the western slopes of the Bilauktaung Range, which constitutes the northern base of the Malay Peninsula. Northern Burma, which comprises the great bulk of the country's area, consists largely of the broad river valley of the Irrawaddy. Originating high up in the very eastern extremity of the Himalayas, the Irrawaddy rushes down through great mountain gorges in northern Burma before spreading out into one of the largest river deltas in Asia. Both of Burma's principal cities--Rangoon and Mandalay--are situated along the Irrawaddy, and the 1,000 mi (1,600 km) river is navigable for almost two thirds of its length. The Irrawaddy valley is surrounded by a great horseshoe of mountain ranges, which rise in the east to the highlands of the Shan Plateau.
Myanmar's culture is largely a result of heavy Indian influences intertwined with local traditions and some Chinese influences. This can be seen in the various stupas and temples throughout the country, which bear a distinct resemblance to those in northern India. Like neighbouring Thailand, Theravada Buddhism is the single largest religion, and even some of the most remote villages will have a village temple for people to pray at. Other religions which exist in smaller numbers include Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
The vast majority of Burma's people live in the lowland regions of this river valley, in the Irrawaddy basin. This fertile expanse, which sits within the tropical monsoon belt, is one of the world's great rice-growing regions. Burma's population includes dozens of different racial and ethnic groups, including the Mon, Burmans, Kachins, Chins, Shans, Rakhine, and Karens, each of which have historically dominated a particular area of the country. Although Burmese is the major and official language, more than a hundred local and regional dialects are spoken throughout Burma.
|The national language of Myanmar is Burmese
|Republic of the Union of Myanmar