Burma, since 1989 officially called Myanmar, is the largest country in Southeast Asia, with an area of 668,000 km ² (16 times the size of the Netherlands for example). Several cities have been renamed: Pegu became Bago, Rangoon became Yangon, Prome changed to Pyay, Pagan to Bagan and Maymyo was renamed Pyin U Lwin. The Irrawaddy River has recently been written as Ayeyarwady. In the north, Burma meets China, in the east it borders Thailand and Laos, in the south to the Indian Ocean and in the west to India and Bangladesh. Inaccessible mountain ranges of the Himalayas in the extreme north of the country and an ocean with miles of beaches enclose the land. The highest mountain in Myanmar, Hkakabo Razi, sits on the border of Tibet and Burma and reaches a height of nearly 6000 m. Unfortunately, this area is still off limits to tourists. From north to south are running rivers and in the east is a plateau: the Shan plateau with large lakes and river carved canyons. Originally the land was largely covered with forest. Myanmar is one of the largest suppliers of tropical hardwood in the world. Teak trees are felled on a large scale and there are floods and landslides in the rainy season. Less than half of the country is still covered by forest: tropical rainforest, mangrove forest, bamboo forest and in the more temperate zones deciduous forest, pine forest and grass steppe. In the dry areas are all kinds of cacti and acacia species. The fauna is rich in different species: elephants, leopards, bears, tigers, rhinos, tapirs, monkeys, snakes and butterflies. Unfortunately, you will not travel through much of this wonderful fauna. Both the loss of forest and poaching threaten the species. All this is related to traditional medicine. It is believed for example that the horn of the rhinoceros has potency enhancing qualities and hogweed is marketed as capturing the strength of the bear. The country has a wealth of natural resources, fertile land, good fishing, oil and precious stones. Despite this wealth Burma is one of the least developed countries in Asia.
The vast majority of Burmese are employed in agriculture. Peasant families work with usually no more than a hoe on land which is divided into small plots. Part of the proceeds they should give to the military and at times there is little that can be done on the land, sometimes whole villages are employed in order to build roads or dams. Rice is the main agricultural crop and the main power source. A typical meal consists of many Burmese rice and some vegetables, sometimes meat or legumes. The agricultural sector provides important export products, legumes and rice. On a large scale are further oilseeds (peanuts and sesame) grown and also wheat, corn and cotton. There are rubber, sugar cane and coconut plantations. Also, fish is an important part of the Burmese meal, which you see (and smell) automatically when you visit one of the markets.