About Burma (Myanmar)

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  • Population: 54.6 million
  • Languages: Burmese (official), various ethnic dialects
  • Main religions: Buddhist (89%), Christian (4%), Muslim (4%)

About Burmese-Americans

  • Local population: About 2,300 refugees have moved here since the late 1990s.
  • Why they came here: A military junta known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (later the State Peace and Development Council) seized control of the country in 1988 and refused to relinquish power despite losing elections held in 1990. The country remained under martial law for more than two decades. Following widespread civil protests, the first elections in 20 years were held in 2010 and a new government took office on April 1, 2011. U.S. officials, however, have said the elections were not free or fair .
  • When they came: Primarily since 2004.

More resources:

  • "Letters from Burma," by Aung San Suu Kyi
  • "Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border," by T.F. Rhoden, et al.

A scene from 'Breaking the Silence: Burma's Resistance,' a documentary by Pierre Mignault and Helene Magny.
Multi-ethnic Association of Burma Program Coordinator Kler Eh Soe, who moved to the United States in 2008, stands in a classroom at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees on Friday, March 25, 2011. Credit: Jason Rossi/Observer-Dispatch

Follow one Burmese family as they arrive in the U.S. for the first time.

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, 2006-2010 American Community Survey, O-D archives