History of Burma
Burma was unified by Burman dynasties three times during the past millennium. The first such unification came with the foundation of the Pagan Dynasty in 1044 AD, which is considered the '' Golden Age '' in Burmese history. It is during this period that Theravada Buddhism first made its appearance in Burma, and the Pagan kings built a massive city with thousands of pagodas and monasteries along the Irrawaddy River. In the 15th century, the Toungoo Dynasty succeeded again in unifying under Burman rule a large, multi-ethnic kingdom. The final Burman royal dynasty, the Konbaung, was established in 1752 under the rule of King Alaungpaya. The British began their conquest of Burma in 1824.
At the end of the third war in 1885 the British gained complete control of Burma, annexing it to India. Under British control, which lasted until 1948, Burma underwent enormous change. By 1939 Burma had become the world's leading exporter of rice. Burmese nationalists, led by General Aung San and 29 other '' Comrades, '' joined the Japanese forces in driving out the British at the outbreak of World War II. After the war, the Burmese, with General Aung San at the helm, demanded complete political and economic independence from Britain.A constitution was completed in 1947 and independence granted in January 1948. General Aung San was assassinated with most of his cabinet before the constitution was put into effect. During the weak constitutional period from 1948 to 1962 Burma suffered widespread conflict and persistent division among political and social groups contributed to the democratic government's weak hold on power. In 1958, the military was invited in temporarily by Prime Minister U Nu to restore political order.
The military stepped down after 18 months; however, in 1962 General Ne Win led a coup abolishing the constitution and establishing a xenophobic military government with socialist economic priorities. These policies had devastating effects on the country's economy and business climate. In March 1988 student disturbances broke out in Rangoon. Despite repeated violent crackdowns by the military and police, the demonstrations increased in size as the general public joined the students.On August 8, 1988, military forces killed more than 1,000 demonstrators. It was at a rally following this massacre that Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of General Aung San, made her first political speech and assumed the role of leader of the opposition.
Map from 1944