Natural resources, energy and environment
With its fertile soil and its extensive
forest and mineral resources, Myanmar could be a
prosperous country. Half of the land area is covered by
forest with teak as the most important type of wood.
Among the mineral resources are oil, natural gas, coal,
copper, tin, gold, silver, tungsten, iron, lead and zinc
as well as precious stones such as sapphires, rubies and
Activity in the state-owned mines was low for a long
time due to lack of investment, but in the 2010s,
investment has increased. However, some of the revenue
from certain mines (mainly gemstones and jade) goes
directly to the military through companies that the
state does not have access to. Ethnic guerrilla groups
also receive money from smuggling of gemstones, among
other things. According to the World Bank, most of the
gems are smuggled out of the country, which means that
the state loses important tax revenue.
Major exports by Burma with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Myanmar has large reserves of oil and natural gas.
The gas is offshore in the Bay of Bengal, while the oil
is mainly pumped inland, southwest of Mandalay. In
recent years, however, new oil fields have also been
found at sea.
Natural gas is Myanmar's most important export
commodity. Major buyers of Myanmar gas are Thailand and
China. Inefficient oil refineries, on the other hand,
require the country to import gasoline and other
petroleum products, a business which is largely
controlled by companies with military ties. Also, some
revenue from gas extraction will only benefit the
military through special accounts outside government
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, BM stands for Myanmar.
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During the 2010s, foreign investment in the energy
sector has increased substantially, primarily from China
but also other countries. New fields are discovered and
exploited in collaboration with foreign energy
companies. One problem is that all activities are in
principle done in collaboration with the state-owned
company Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (Moge), notorious
for corruption, lack of transparency and connections to
Electricity is generated to three-quarters in
hydroelectric power stations and to one-fifth in
gas-fired thermal power plants. More than half the
population had access to electricity in 2016. Lack of
electricity is a major obstacle to the country's
economic development. Most companies are forced to use
their own generators due to constant power outages.
Myanmar has good opportunities to expand its hydropower
even more, which is done in collaboration with China in
The power plant construction leads to negative
consequences for the environment. Large areas are being
destroyed, which is a threat to both humans and animals.
The power plant dams created in the Salween River have
forced thousands of people to leave their homes. With
the excavators also comes the military, which has a long
history of serious abuse on local people. When the USDP
government decided in 2011 to stop a Chinese-funded
power plant construction, it was probably the first time
the authorities have bowed to public opinion and
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
361 kilos of oil equivalents (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
211 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
21 632 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.4 ton (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
61.5 percent (2015)
Government: "no more political prisoners"
The government issues a comprehensive amnesty and claims that all political
prisoners are now released. Human rights activists question the task.
NLD is running for election in 2015
The NLD announces that the party will run in the 2015 elections even if the
constitution is not changed so that Aung San Suu Kyi can become president (see
More violence against Muslims
Violence targeting Muslims erupts in Kanbalu in central Myanmar, after police
refused to extradite a Muslim man to a Buddhist crowd. The man is charged with
attempted rape on a Buddhist woman. The mob burns down homes and shops belonging
to the city's Muslims. The Muslim man is later sentenced to seven years in
More convictions fall for the violence in Meiktila
Twenty-three people are sentenced to prison for participating in riots
between Muslims and Buddhists in Meiktila. The persons are convicted of, for
example, murder, assault and arson.
Child restriction for Rohingy
In parts of Rakhine, an old rule is reintroduced that Muslim Rohingya may
only have two children. The restriction does not apply to Buddhists.
Muslims are condemned for ethnic violence
Seven Muslims are sentenced to long prison terms following the outbreak of
violence in Meiktila (see March 2013) between Buddhists and
Muslims. The longest sentence of 34 years is punishable for the murder of a
Investigation wants to see more security forces in Rakhine
A government-appointed inquiry into the ethnic violence in Rakhine in 2012 is
presented. Investigators state that 190 people were killed and about 100,000
became homeless in the two violence outbreaks in June and October 2012,
respectively, between the Muslim minority Rohingya and Buddhists. The
investigation recommends that the security forces in Rakhine be doubled and that
the two groups should be kept apart for a period, but also admit that this
should not be seen as a permanent solution to the problem.
The EU and the US lift more sanctions
The EU is lifting all trade and economic sanctions against Myanmar and
individuals, for example in the country's political leadership. However, the ban
on arms sales remains. The United States retains some targeted sanctions because
of concerns about the human rights situation, such as the violence in Rakhine
and the country still holding political prisoners.
Privately owned newspapers are allowed
The USDP government announces that privately owned newspapers are now
allowed. Myanmar has not had private newspapers since 1964. Four privately owned
newspapers are starting to be published: The Union, The Voice, Standard Times
and The Golden Fresh Land.
Ethnic related violence in central Myanmar
At least 50 people are killed in violence between Buddhists and Muslims in
the city of Meiktila in central Myanmar. The unrest is spreading to surrounding
cities, where several mosques are set on fire as well as hundreds of homes and
shops owned by Muslims. An estimated 12,000 people are forced to flee, of which
around 9,000 are Muslims. It is unclear how organized the violence is and who is
responsible for the outbreak of violence, but most who are arrested are
Buddhists. An emergency permit is introduced.
The President visits Europe
During his first European visit, Thein Sein meets both EU representatives and
leaders of individual countries to strengthen Myanmar's relations with the
western world. The trip goes to Norway, Finland, Austria, Belgium and Italy.
Freedom of assembly is extended
The government abolishes the 1988 ban on public groups larger than five
people in public place.