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ESCORTED TRIPS 2012 / 2013

Mingalaba!

The Union of Myanmar
Located in the Southeast Asia region, Myanmar lies between north latitude 9 degrees 32 minutes and 28 degrees 31 minutes and between longitudes 92 degrees 10 minutes East and 101 degrees 11 minutes East. Its neighbors are China to the north and northeast; Laos to the east; Thailand to the south-east; and India and Bangladesh to the west and bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The City of Yangon lies at 96 degrees 13 minutes east longitude and 16 degrees 45 minutes north latitude. The east longitude 97 degrees 30 minutes is designated for Myanmar standard time and the MST is 6 hours and 30 minutes earlier than GMT.

Area
With a total land area of 261228 sq miles (677,000 sq km), the country stretches over 1275 miles (2051 km) from north to south and 582 miles (936 km) east to west. The country’s border line stretches about 5200 miles and sharing 3808 miles with neighboring countries — 1357 miles with China, 1314 miles with Thailand, 857 miles with India, 152 miles with Bangladesh and 128 miles with Laos. It has a 1385 miles long coastline from Nat River to Kawthoung.

Topography
Roughly, the topographic condition of Myanmar can be divided into three parts— western ranges, central plains and eastern hilly regions. Myanmar is adjacent to Himalayan ranges which lie in the western part of the country. The Khakaborazi Mountain with the height of 19296 feet is a part of the western ranges and the Saramayti Mountain is 12553 feet high. The western ranges divide India and Myanmar as a wall. In the central plains, the Ayeyawady delta region is the largest one and it is divided into three parts— first part of the region is from the upper reaches to Mandalay, the second part from Mandalay to Pyay and the third part from Pyay to its end. Sittaung basin and Chindwin basin are included in the central plain. In the central plain, there also exist Zeebyu mountain range, Minwon mountain range, Hmankin mountain range and Gangaw mountain range. Bago Mountain range lies from north to south in the region. Shan Plateau is called the eastern mountain range which has an average height of 3000 to 4000 feet. Although it is called a plateau, there exists mountains with high slopes. Across the plateau Thanlwin river flows from north to south— Shan Plateau to Taninthayi coastal region. Zawgyi, Myitnge and Panlaung rivers originate in the Shan Plateau and enter the River Ayeyawady.

Mingalaba
Mingalaba is a word of welcome as well as a wish for good fortune. This single word best signifies the inherent nature of the people of Myanmar: not only to offer hospitality but to wish others well. With traditions deeply rooted in the loving-kindness philosophy of Buddhism, the creed the Myanmar lives by is cedana, or heart-felt goodwill towards friends and strangers alike.

This has been true throughout the country’s long history, which can be traced back to the 2nd century when the Rakhine ruled the west coast and Pyucivilisation began flourishing in the central regions. Throughout the years great kingdoms came and went, until the Third Myanmar Empire fell in 1885 to the colonial British. Myanmar subsequently gained independence in 1948.

For many years Myanmar disappeared behind a wall of self-isolation, and only recently did it reopen its doors to the outside world, revealing the country’s unique culture and stunning scenery to new generations of visitors. With a diversity of terrain that ranges from ice-capped mountains in the north, to pagoda-filled plains in the centre, to miles of pristine beaches along the coast, Myanmar has something to offer at all times of the year.

Myanmar is an agrarian country with a population of more than 50 million; about 90 percent of them live in rural areas. More than 100 different national groups live within the country’s borders. The Bama or Myanmar are the majority group inhabiting the central zone, while the Shan, Kayin, Kachin, Kayah, Chin, Rakhine and Mon and their sub-groups live in mountainous regions closer to the borders or along the coast. Buddhism is the predominant religion, but there are also substantial numbers of Christians, Hindus, Muslims and animists throughout the country. It is therefore not unusual to see pagodas, churches, mosques and temples standing together in a single neighborhood. Spirit worship also exists side-by side with Buddhism, as these minor gods are believed to be disciples of the Buddha’s teachings.

To this day Myanmar remains one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world, a land of breathtaking beauty and charm that offers traditional Asian delights to all visitors.

Myanmar is rich not only in traditions; the fertile land is crossed by a number of rivers that are used for transportation and irrigation, and also as a source of food. Mines have yielded some of the world’s finest rubies and imperial jades, while the sea off the southern coast is prime breeding ground for cultured pearls of excellent lustre. The country’s natural resources also include a stunning array of flora and fauna, from elusive tigers and elephants, to rare birds, butterflies and orchids. Many of these species are protected by Myanmar’s system of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

However, the most precious treasure of Myanmar is its people. One of the best ways to get an up close and personal look at local culture is to attend one of the many festivals that occur throughout the year. Pagoda festivals are very popular, and national groups also celebrate their own new year and harvest days. The spirits are also honoured with festivals that feature energetic music and dance performances. On a personal level, families celebrate their sons’ novitiation into the Buddhist Order, and daughters are pampered with equally lavish ceremonies to have their ears pierced.

To this day Myanmar remains one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world, a land of breathtaking beauty and charm that offers traditional Asian delights to all visitors. We welcome you to Myanmar, the golden land of pagodas, with a wish for your good fortune: Mingalaba.

Myanmar People
With more than 130 national groups, Myanmar has a wealth of different cultures. Most groups live in the mountains surrounding the central plains, many in villages reached by hours of walking through jungles and deep valleys. Here we can only give credit to a few.

Language:
There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Myanmar, all with their own languages and dialects.
The majority speaks Myanmar (Burmese) and also English is widely spoken. Tour guides who can speak major foreign languages can be booked with advance request.

Religion
Myanmar enjoys religious tolerance and since the ancient times, there has been full freedom of worship for followers of different religions. So, different religions can be practiced in Myanmar. The religious edifices and religious orders have been in existence and religious festivals can be held on a grand scale. The majority of the population embraces Theravada Buddhism with 89.3 percent. The rest embrace Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or animism.

Arts and Crafts
Myanmar is definitely the destination for alternative shopping. The country boasts of unique, very reasonably-priced items that one may not find even in its close neighbors.

Myanmar Festivals
There is a saying that Myanmar celebrates a festival every month. Fortunately for tourists there are even more, spread across the whole country throughout the year. This affords visitors a wonderful opportunity to gain firsthand insight into the living culture of Myanmar.

Food and Recreation
Myanmar food has its own special identity, which is beloved by local people. Myanmar is a country full of life with a lot of activities to cater to your needs.

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