The history of Burma (Myanmar) covers the period from the time of first-known human settlements 13,000 years ago to the present day. The earliest inhabitants of recorded history were the Pyu who entered the Irrawaddy valley from Yunnan c. 2nd century BCE. By the 4th century CE, the Pyu had founded several city states as far south as Prome (Pyay), and adopted Buddhism. Farther south, the Mon, who had entered from Haribhunjaya and Dvaravati kingdoms in the east, had established city states of their own along the Lower Burmese coastline by the early 9th century.
Another group, the Mranma (Burmans or Bamar) of the Nanzhao Kingdom, entered the upper Irrawaddy valley in the early 9th century. They went on to establish the Pagan Empire (1044–1287), the first ever unification of Irrawaddy valley and its periphery. The Burmese language and culture slowly came to replace Pyu and Mon norms during this period. After Pagan's fall in 1287, several small kingdoms, of which Ava, Hanthawaddy, Arakan and Shan states were principal powers, came to dominate the landscape, replete with ever shifting alliances and constant wars. In the second half of the 16th century, the Toungoo Dynasty (1510–1752) reunified the country, and founded the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia for a brief period. Later Toungoo kings instituted several key administrative and economic reforms that gave rise to a smaller, peaceful and prosperous kingdom in the 17th and early 18th centuries. In the second half of the 18th century, the Konbaung Dynasty (1752–1885) restored the kingdom, and continued the Toungoo reforms that increased central rule in peripheral regions and produced one of the most literate states in Asia. The dynasty also went to war with all its neighbors. The kingdom fell to the British over a six-decade span (1824–1885).
The British rule brought several enduring social, economic, cultural and administrative changes that completely transformed the once-feudal society. Most importantly, the British rule highlighted out-group differences among the country's myriad ethnic groups. Since independence in 1948, the country has been in one of the longest running civil wars that remains unresolved. The country was under military rule under various guises from 1962 to 2010, and in the process has become one of the least developed nations in the world.
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Famous quotes containing the word monarchy:
“A monarchy is the most expensive of all forms of government, the regal state requiring a costly parade, and he who depends on his own power to rule, must strengthen that power by bribing the active and enterprising whom he cannot intimidate.”
—James Fenimore Cooper (17891851)