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).
Buddhism is a religion and dharma that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to the Buddha. Buddhism declined in India in the middle ages.
Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. Practices of Buddhism include Refuge, Samatha, Vipassanā, the Mahayana practice of Bodhicitta and the Vajrayana practices of Generation stage and Completion stage.
In Theravada Buddhism, the ultimate goal is the attainment of the sublime state of nirvana, achieved by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path (also known as the Middle Way), thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth. Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar . From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom's height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.
The Bagan Archaeological Zone is a main draw for the country's nascent tourism industry. It is seen by many as equal in attraction to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.