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    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Myanmar

Ethnicity

Just over two thirds of the people of Myanmar are ethnically Burman or Bamar, which is an ethnic group that is most closely related to the Tibetans (in China) and falls in the ethnic family of the Sino-Tibetan, making them more distantly related to the Han Chinese. The last third of the people in Myanmar fall into numerous groups as no other single ethnic group makes up more than 10% of the population. Among these ethnic minorities are the Shan, Karen, Rakhine, Chinese, and Indians.

Language

Burmese is the only official language in Myanmar, although numerous ethnic minorities speak additional native languages. Burmese (or Myanmar language) is a member of the Tibetan side of the Sino-Tibetan language family and hence, Tibetan is one of the language's closest relatives.

English is a growing second language, although few people speak English outside the tourist areas and Yangon. As the country continues to open up and education expands English and other popular international languages are likely to grow in popularity.

Religion

About 90% of the Burmese in Myanmar are Buddhist. Among the last 10% of the population, nearly half are Christian and the other half are Muslim. Buddhism is a religion or philosophy that encourages people to strive for enlightenment. Adherents believe that each being is reborn until enlightenment is reached, at which time they escape the cycle of birth and death. To accomplish this, every being must speak, act, and live in a positive manner; this is magnified with the force of karma, which dictates an individual's later life and/or their rebirth.

This page was last updated: May, 2014