History in Myanmar

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The tribal communities of the Karen, Mon and different Tibeto-Burmese tribes, the most famous being the Pyu, coming from eastern Tibet, were probably the first inhabitants of the area which is now Myanmar. They came from the north travelling down the big rivers and settled mainly in the south/south-west (Mon) and in the north.

From the 5th century onwards, Indians started exploring and later settling in Myanmar with the purpose of doing business. From the 5th to 8th century, Burmese from less fertile regions of North-Asia immigrated, followed by tribal communities of the Shan, Kachin, Chin and the Southern Chinese. In the 8th century, the Pyu had built a town named Pyay which was said to be the biggest in the country. The ruins of Pyay are still visible today. After the decline of Pyay, the capital shifted to Bagan. From the 11th to 13th century about 13.000 temples and pagodas were built. King Anawratha, the first Burmese king, ruled in Bagan from 1044 to 1077 and succeeded in establishing a strong and powerful kingdom. After defeating the Mon, he took Mon prisoners back to his capital and used their architectural abilities for further development of the city. He also adopted Theravada-Buddhism from them and began to spread it in his kingdom.

During the reign of king Narasihapati in the 13th century, Myanmar was attacked by the Mongols. The Mongols finally won the war, and in 1287 Bagan was destroyed.

From the 13th to 18th century five independent kingdoms existed, sometimes concurrently: In-Wa, Toungoo, Rakhine, Bago and Pyu.

A new Burmese kingdom was established in 1753 by Alaungpaya, who came to be one of the national heroes of Myanmar. He drove the Mon out of Northern Myanmar and made Shwebo his capital. Finally, in 1755, he conquered Pyay and Dagon, changing its name to “Yangon” (“end of conflict”).

In 1824, the first British-Burmese war started. The Burmese lost Rakhine, Assam, Manipur and Tenasserim to the British, after having signed an ultimatum. But peace was not to last very long – in 1852 the second war began and the British occupied Southern Myanmar, which was combined in 1862 with Rakhine and Tenasserim into the province of British-Burma.

In 1886, Myanmar finally lost its independence and became a province of British-India. It was centrally governed, and traditional Burmese culture was suppressed in many ways.

In the 20th century, opposition against the British occupying forces and the Karen, who supported them, grew. In 1936, after many years of opposition, elections were held and in 1937, Myanmar achieved self-government within the British Empire.

After the second world war and having liberated Myanmar from Japanese occupation, the British left Myanmar, which had before been proclaimed independent by the Japanese in 1943. In 1947 a new constitution was ratified and in 1948 the “Union of Myanmar” established.

Contributors
March 08, 2005 change by giorgio (1 point)

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