The California Native International Adventures

Since 1983

From The California Native Newsletter:

What’s in a name?

Tell your friends that you have just come back from Myanmar, and most will respond, “Where?” But tell them your trip was to Burma, and the reply will be different, “Wow, how exciting.

In 1885, after much conflict between the Burmese king and the British Empire, the British invaded Myanmar, and anglicized the country’s name to “Burma.” They also changed the name of the capital, Yangon, to “Rangoon.” These names are familiar to us, through literature and history—Rudyard Kipling’s Road to Mandalay, and World War II’s struggles for the Burma Road. There were also the roadside signs, for those of us old enough to remember, for Burma Shave.

In 1989, the official name of the country was changed to the “Union of Myanmar” by The SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) of the military government which seized power after the uprisings in 1988, noting that “Burma” was part of the British colonial past.

The official United Nations designation is Myanmar. However, there is debate among human rights organizations regarding this name. The change was made by a government which was not officially elected and has been accused of human rights violations. However, Amnesty International does recognize the name as Myanmar.

In fact, Myanmar has really been the name for centuries. The common language of the country is called Myanmar, and Myanmar refers to the whole country, while Bamar, from which the name Burma comes, is the name of just one group of people. Some linguists theorize that since in many Indo-Chinese languages, the “m” and “b” are interchangeable, the words Myanmar and Burma are essentially the same, especially since the “r” at the end of Myanmar is not actually pronounced—it was used in British English to lengthen the preceding “a.”

With over 130 nationalities, and a population over 46 million, Myanmar (Burma) is a melting pot of different peoples with their own traditions, religions, and customs. One thing that all Burmese have in common, however, is that they are some of the nicest people around.

Click Here for information on our Myanmar (Burma) Tours.

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