Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Myanmar, “the Golden Land” was once Burma until her name was officially changed in 1989.
Often overlooked and underappreciated by many, Myanmar is strategically located at the most northwest of the Southeast Asian lands, strategically located nearby important Indian Ocean shipping lanes.
When one thinks or mentions Myanmar, we think of Aung San Suu Kyi or the military junta that once ruled the nation with an iron fist. But there is so much more Myanmar has to offer. With a population of 53.7 million and new leadership, the country is slowly looking forward to a hopeful future.
Meanwhile, here are 20 interesting facts about Myanmar that will definitely surprise you.
Ranging from the oldest teakwood bridge in the world to having an interesting and complex naming system, these are the little things of Myanmar that have gone unnoticed.
1. Thanakha -- a cosmetic paste made from tree bark
Thanakha, traditional Burmese beauty secret
The trees that thanakha is made from are often grown to a minimum of 35 years to reach the perfect maturity to produce good-quality cuttings. Some locals even use it as an ingredient in traditional medicine as it is believed to contain medicinal properties. Thanakha is really cooling and provides protection from sunburn. If you ever get the opportunity to try it, don’t miss out -- it’s believed to smoothen your skin!
2. Burmese Calendar
The Burmese have their own calendar, which follows lunar months for its months and sidereal years (the time taken for the Earth to orbit the sun). Although not used officially, it still marks important dates to celebrate holidays like the Burmese New Year. Currently, the year is 1382. (http://www.mmcalendar.com)
3. Thingyan festival
Children throwing water at passers by, Ayewardy Delta
Kirsten Henton, The Culture Trip
This is the festival celebrated as the Burmese New Year, usually in the middle of April. It lasts four or five days, depending on the Burmese calendar as mentioned earlier. During this festival, you will see temporary water-spraying stations lined up along the roads. People will travel in open-roof cars and tour the streets to get doused with water. Youths will order barrels of ice to splash unsuspecting passersby with ice-cold water.
4. No surnames
Bogyoke Aung San Family
The Burmese naming system is structured very differently from how we know names are formed. In fact, there isn’t any structure at all to the Burmese naming system. Up until the mid 1800s, Burmese names only had a single syllable. For example, Aung San Suu Kyi’s grandparents’ names were Pha and Suu.
Daw ဒေါ် Aunt/Ms
Used for mature women or women in a senior position (e.g. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi)
Ko ကိုBrother (older)
Used for men of similar age (e.g., Ko Mya Aye)
Ma မ Sister/Ms
Used for young women or women of a similar age"
Honorifics, Burmese names
In Myanmar, you wouldn’t simply address people by their first names. This would be rude and inappropriate. Instead, you would add honorifics like “daw” or “u” (pronounced oo) for people who are senior to you. When addressing someone of similar age, “ma” and “ko” are used. These honorifics are important features of the Burmese vernacular.
6. You can tell someone’s Burmese zodiac from their name
Sherab Jin, Steemit
Many Burmese Buddhists use astrology, determined by the day of birth, to name their newborn. This day of birth corresponds with the first letter of their name. The letters used contain the Burmese alphabet, which contains 33 letters.
7. Myanmar is the largest country in the Indochina Peninsula
Map of Myanmar
Myanmar, located in southeastern Asia is the 40th biggest country in the world. But what is more impressive and often overlooked is that it is the biggest country in the Indochina Peninsula, which consists of countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. It is a grand 675,400 square kilometers!
8. Burma experiences snow
Ideal Travel Asia
The snow reaches northeastern Myanmar where the Kachin state is during the winter months. From Putao, which is in the most northern part of Kachin, you can see the breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains. From there, the Hkakabo Razi is also visible. Myanmar is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that actually receives snow.
9. Highest mountain southeast Asia
Indochina Tours Asia
Many people may not know it but standing at 5,472 meters, the Hkakabo Razi is not only the highest mountain in Myanmar but probably in the whole of southeast Asia. It is enclosed within the Khakaborazi National Park, which is entirely mountainous. The mountain was established as a natural reserve in 1996.
10. Irrawaddy dolphins
World Wild Life
Speaking of nature, these cute dolphins are an endangered species of dolphins that can only be found in three rivers in the world, and the Irrawaddy river happens to be one of them. These dolphins are named after the largest river in Myanmar, one that flows from the north to the south of the country. Just recently, the number found in Myanmar has increased to 79, the highest it has been in a decade according to the Wildlife Conservation Society of Myanmar.
11. Wine production
It is not widely known that Myanmar produces wine. It is a tropical region so many are asking how the grapes cope with the heat and humidity. These vineyards can be found on the mountains of Dawna Range, located in the Kayah state. Nearby, in the Shan state, is the first winery of Myanmar -- Aythaya. The wine tasting conducted at the restaurant inside may come as a pleasant surprise to tourists unaware of this fact. Unfortunately, production is insufficient for Myanmar to export their wines.
12. Oldest teakwood bridge
Stretching 1.2 kilometers and built in 1851, the U Bein used to be