The name of the country was changed in 1989 from Union of Burma to Myanmar. The first Burmese empire was founded in the 11th century. It was invaded by the British in the 19th century. After the Japanese occupation during World War II, the country became sovereign in 1948. From 1962 to 1990 it was ruled by a military dictator, and subsequently a military-controlled government was formed. Mass protests in 1988 were violently repressed, but did result in democratic elections in 1990, which were won by the National League for Democracy (NLD). The military refused to step down and since then have kept tight control of the country. The leader of the NLD, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, has been under house arrest most of the time. The population of Myanmar is made up of many different ethnic groups. In the north, armed oppostion to the central government has been going on for decades. The military were accused of imposing forced labour and committing many other human rights violations. Myanmar's economy is based on agriculture, gems, timber and oil. The majority of the population are poor peasants and workers. Catholic missionaries entered the area in the 16th century and Protestant missions began in the 19th century. The largest church is the Myanmar Baptist Convention. The Assemblies of God and numerous other Pentecostal and Evangelical churches are active and growing. The Myanmar Council of Churches is the ecumenical body. There is an Evangelical Christian Fellowship, affiliated with the WEA.

Note: The list of churches present in countries/territories is still in development.
A Bossey student from Myanmar, wearing traditional festive dress, at prayer. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC