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Myanmar (formerly Burma), History

Irrawaddy delta, Burmans, central Myanmar, Kachin, Bay of Bengal

The history of what is now Myanmar has been made by a succession of peoples who migrated down along the Irrawaddy River from Tibet and China, and who were influenced by social and political institutions that had been carried across the sea from India. First came the Mon, perhaps as early as 3000 bc. They established centers of settlement in central Myanmar, in the Irrawaddy delta, and farther down the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal. They constructed irrigation systems and developed commercial and cultural contacts with India, while maintaining loose ties with other Mon civilizations in the Chao Phraya Valley of Siam (now Thailand). The Pyu followed much later, moving down the western side of the Irrawaddy and founding a capital near present-day Prome in ad 628. The Burmans entered the Irrawaddy River valley in the mid-9th century, absorbing the nearby Pyu and Mon communities. Later waves brought in the Shan and Kachin, who, along with the native Karen, have all played a part in the country’s development.

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Article key phrases:

Irrawaddy delta, Burmans, central Myanmar, Kachin, Bay of Bengal, Tibet, irrigation systems, civilizations, political institutions, Shan, eastern coast, Thailand, capital, bc, century, sea, China, India, communities, history


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