- a country in Southeast Asia, on the Bay of Bengal; population 48,137,700 (est. 2009); capital, Naypyidaw; official language, Burmese. Official name (since 1989) Union of Myanmar.
Annexed by the British during the 19th century, the country was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945 and became an independent republic in 1948. In 1962, an army coup led by Ne Win overthrew the government and established an authoritarian state. The National League for Democracy (NLD) won the election held in May 1990, even though its leader Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest; however, the military regime did not relinquish power
The military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as the name for their state since 1989, yet the name Burma continues to be used by various opposition groups within the country, as well as by certain foreign countries that do not recognize the current military government. Even US newscasters are not in agreement on the proper terminology: on one news program, you may hear a report about ‘Myanmar, formerly Burma’; from another, the news may be about ‘Burma, also known as Myanmar.’.