Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. The Bay of Bengal lies to the southwest, touching nearly 1,200 miles of Myanmar’s coast.

  • Population: 52,797,300
  • Life Expectancy: 65 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 84%
  • School Enrollment: 84%
  • Land Mass: 261,228 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 93%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 52/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 220

Facts about Myanmar

Myanmar is one of the poorest nations in the world. Decades of military rule have devastated the country’s infrastructure. Underemployment and economic stagnation have become the norm. More than 30 percent of people live below the poverty line.

Despite an increase in the geographic coverage of education services in Myanmar, a significant number of children still will not be able to afford or complete five years of primary school education.

Investments in health and education remain very low. Myanmar is the only developing country in Asia where military budget exceeds the combined health and education budget.

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Progress in Myanmar

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2013.

  • Increased access to medical services for vulnerable community members by providing transportation to appointments, assisting with medical bills for poor families, and giving medications to people living with HIV and AIDS.

  • Decreased malnutrition in the community by distributing vitamins and food supplements to pregnant women and the elderly.

  • Lowered rates of diarrhea and communicable diseases by training families on proper hygiene and diarrhea treatment, and installing safe water sources and latrines.

  • Served preschoolers in the community through creating early childhood centers, where children received health education, food, and a chance to play with friends.

  • Supported disabled children’s education through vocational and literacy training, monetary support for families, and transportation to a specialized school in a neighboring community.

  • Provided support to survivors of trafficking to help in their process of rehabilitation.

  • Increased youth awareness of their rights and empowered them to be change agents in their communities through summer and sports camps, and trainings on anti-trafficking and child safety.

  • Community members received microloans or grants to start small businesses and increase their household incomes. They also received financial education about loans and money management.

  • Trained community members in disaster preparedness and assisted them in creating community-wide disaster management plans.

  • Supported local nutrition centers and trained parents about nutritious foods for infants and children.

  • When preschoolers began to attend new schools, their parents used the opportunity to work, and their older siblings were able to attend formal school, rather than take care of little ones.

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    World Vision in Myanmar Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Myanmar to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 7,700 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Myanmar. Highlights include:

    • Improving water access by working with communities to construct and rehabilitate hand-dug wells, gravity-fed water systems, and tanks.
    • Providing loans and other microfinance opportunities to support commerce, agriculture, and education needs.
    • Assisting the government to end recruitment of child soldiers and release underage children from the armed forces.
    • Supporting the return, assistance, and reintegration of trafficking survivors.

    World Vision History in Myanmar

    World Vision began work in Myanmar in the 1950s with the support of a pastors conference. Since then, some major accomplishments include:

    • Meeting the needs of children through sponsorship since the early 1960s.
    • Helping families affected by floods regain livelihoods with resources such as carts, rickshaws, and sewing machines in the 1970s.
    • Partnering with the Salvation Army to help children in the 1980s.
    • Providing healthcare, education, and skills training to hearing-impaired children and adults in the 1990s.
    • Improving the lives of children living on the street, assisting with tsunami relief efforts, and increasing microenterprise development since the beginning of the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. The Bay of Bengal lies to the southwest, touching nearly 1,200 miles of Myanmar’s coast.

    The climate is cooler in the mountainous north and east areas, tropical in the south and west, and hot and humid along the coast and delta.

    Natural resources include petroleum, timber, tin, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, and hydropower.

    Over 130 ethnic groups live in Myanmar. The Burman are the largest ethnic group, making up two-thirds of the population. The official language is Burmese, but many ethnic groups speak their own dialects. English is a second language often used in government settings and in schools.

    The majority of people live in rural areas near the river valley. Rural families typically have many children while city dwellers may have only one or two.


    Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, gained independence from Britain in 1948. After some years of parliamentary government, rebellions broke out and a military leader took control in 1962.

    A new military rule began in the late 1980s, and in 1989 the rulers changed the name of the country to Myanmar. Some countries do not acknowledge the name change because it came from a non-democratically elected government.

    Political unrest continued through the 1990s and into the 21st century. Demonstrations against the government in 2007 ended with 13 deaths and thousands of arrests.

    On May 2, 2008, as many as 2 million people were affected when Cyclone Nargis slammed into the country, causing tens of thousands of deaths and destroying homes and livelihoods. Days later, the government held the first elections since 1990. The November 2010 elections resulted in military-backed parties maintaining political control.

    Prayer Requests for Myanmar

    • For the continued transitions in the government and for wise leadership as Myanmar moves toward a democracy.
    • For pregnant women in Myanmar, who need more prenatal healthcare so they can give birth to healthy babies.
    • For political stability and peace within the country.
    • For the safety and wisdom of World Vision staff working in high-risk areas.