To its south, about one third of Myanmar's total perimeter of 5,876 km (3,651 mi) forms an uninterrupted coastline of 1,930 km (1,200 mi) along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
The country's 2014 census counted the population to be 51 million people.
In the mid-to-late 9th century the Bamar people founded a small settlement at Bagan.
It was one of several competing city-states until the late 10th century when it grew in authority and grandeur.
However, the Burmese military remains a powerful force in politics.
The Pyu culture was heavily influenced by trade with India, importing Buddhism as well as other cultural, architectural and political concepts, which would have an enduring influence on later Burmese culture and political organisation.This, along with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners, has improved the country's human rights record and foreign relations, and has led to the easing of trade and other economic sanctions.In the landmark 2015 election, Aung San Suu Kyi's party won a majority in both houses.Myanmar used to be known as "Birmânia" in Portuguese, and as "Birmanie" in French.Evidence of neolithic age domestication of plants and animals and the use of polished stone tools dating to sometime between 10,000 and 6,000 BC has been discovered in the form of cave paintings in Padah-Lin Caves.Following a coup d'état in 1962, it became a military dictatorship.For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and its myriad ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world's longest-running ongoing civil wars.The British took over the administration of Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony.Myanmar was granted independence in 1948, as a democratic nation.Both these names are derived from the name of the majority Burmese Bamar ethnic group.Myanmar is considered to be the literary form of the name of the group, while Burma is derived from "Bamar", the colloquial form of the group's name.