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Myanmar, officially the Union of Myanmar is the largest country by geographical area in mainland Southeast Asia. It is also known as Burma. As the "Union of Burma," Myanmar achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 4 January 1948. It became the "Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma" on 4 January 1974, before reverting to the "Union of Burma" on 23 September 1988. On 18 June 1989, the State Law and Order Restoration Council adopted the name "Union of Myanmar."

Myanmar is bordered by the People's Republic of China on the north, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, and India on the northwest, with the Andaman Sea to the south, and the Bay of Bengal to the southwest. One-third of Myanmar's total perimeter, 1,930 kilometres (1,199 mi), forms an uninterrupted coastline.

Myanmar's diverse population has played a major role in defining its politics, history and demographics in modern times. Its political system remains under the tight control of the State Peace and Development Council, the military government led, since 1992, by Senior General Than Shwe. The Burmese military has dominated government since General Ne Win led a coup in 1962 that toppled the civilian government of U Nu. Part of the British Empire until 1948, Myanmar continues to struggle to mend its ethnic tensions. The country's culture, heavily influenced by neighbours, is based on Theravada Buddhism intertwined with local elements.

The name "Myanmar" is derived from the local short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw. This name was used as early as the 12th century, but its etymology remains unclear. A derivation from the Sanskrit "Brahmadesh," land of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, is accepted by some scholars, though not all. The adjectival form is "Myanma."

In 1989, the military junta officially changed the English version of its name from Burma to Myanmar, along with changes to the English versions of many place names in the country, such as its former capital city from Rangoon to Yangon. However, the official name of the country in the Burmese language, Myanma, did not change. Within the Burmese language, Myanma is the written, literary name of the country, while Bama (from which "Burma" derives) is the oral, colloquial name. In spoken Burmese, the distinction is less clean than the English transliteration suggests.

The renaming proved to be politically controversial. Burmese opposition groups continue to use the name "Burma" since they do not recognize the legitimacy of the ruling military government nor its authority to rename the country. Some western governments, namely those of the United States, Australia, Ireland, and Britain, continue to use "Burma," while the European Union uses "Burma/Myanmar" as an alternative. The United Nations uses "Myanmar."

Use of "Burma" and its adjective "Burmese" remains common in the United States and Britain. News organisations, such as the BBC, Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, still use these forms. CNN, The Economist, and The New York Times use "Myanmar" as the country name and "Burmese" as the adjective.

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