The People

Burmans, a Mongoloid people, make up about 65 per cent of the population. Of the country's numerous other Mongoloid peoples, the largest groups are the Karens, Shans, Kachins, Chins, and Chinese. There are also a large number of Indians and Pakistanis. The population of Burma in 1992 was estimated at 41,550,000. The population density was about 159 persons per square mile (61 per km2). Rangoon, the capital, and Mandalay are the largest cities, with populations in 1983 of 2,458,712 and 532,895 respectively.

Buddhism of the Theravada branch is the religion of about 85 per cent of the population. Other religions are Islam, Christianity, and animism.

Burma's educational system deteriorated under the country's military dictatorship. Public education is free, but access to schools in rural areas is restricted. Many teachers have been imprisoned. Once well-regarded universities such as the University of Mandalay (established in 1925) and the University of Rangoon (1920) have been closed for extended periods of time since 1988.

About 20 per cent of the Burmese men and women can read and write. The Burmese language is related to that of Tibet.