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Myanmar is the second largest country in Southeast Asia, bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand.
Its population of over 60 million people is culturally diverse and is constituted by more than 100 ethnic groups. The largest group, the Burman, comprises 68% of the population, while no other ethnic nationality constitutes more than 10%.
In 1886, after the Third Anglo-Burmese War, Britain completed its conquest of Myanmar and incorporated it into its Indian Empire.
Since independence in 1948, the country has been plagued by long running civil conflicts among the country's myriad ethnic groups, many of which remain unresolved.
From 1962 to 2011, the country was under military rule. The military junta was dissolved in 2011, following a general election in 2010, and a civilian government installed. A new constitution was followed by national and regional elections.
Despite being a resource rich country, Myanmar is also one of the poorest countries in Asia. About 37% of the population live below the poverty line. Low levels of public expenditure under the military regime, particularly in health and education, have resulted in significant declines in human and organisational capacity.
Food security also remains an issue, with the majority of rural households unable to access enough land to move beyond day-to-day subsistence. In urban areas the poor spend close to 70% of their income on food.
Under-nutrition is a significant factor in both maternal and child mortality. Increasing large-scale resource extractions and infrastructure development are also placing increasing pressure on the environment in Myanmar.
Our work in Myanmar
AVI’s work in Myanmar is through the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. The program is coordinated by an AVI Country Representative based in Yangon.
The first AVID volunteers will arrive in Myanmar in mid-late 2012 to work in assignments focussing on governance and education.
Find out more
Find out more about volunteering through the AVID program