Myanmar, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also known as Burma, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. One-third of Myanmar's total perimeter of 1,930 km forms an uninterrupted coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The country's 2014 census revealed a much lower population than expected, with 51 million people recorded. Its capital city is Naypyidaw and its largest city is Yangon (Rangoon).
Early civilisations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma. In the 9th century, the Bamar people entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language, culture and Theravada Buddhism slowly became dominant in the country. The Pagan Kingdom fell due to the Mongol invasions and several warring states emerged. In the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo Dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia. The early 19th century Konbaung Dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Myanmar and briefly controlled Manipur and Assam as well. The British conquered Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony. Myanmar became an independent nation in 1948, initially as a democratic nation and then, following a coup d'état in 1962, a military dictatorship.
For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and Burma's myriad ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world's longest-running ongoing civil wars.