Myanmar :: History

1057 King Anawratha conquered the Mon capital and founded the first unified Burmese state at Pagan (spelled Bagan today).
1287 Mongols under Kublai Khan conquered Pagan.
13-15thC Burma remained in chaos ... Upper Burma led an uncertain existence between Shan domination and tributary relations with China, while Lower Burma reverted to Mon rule.
1531 With Portuguese help, King Bayinnaung of the Toungoo dynasty reunified Burma.
1755 King Alaungpaya founded the Konbaung dynasty.
1767 The Burmese invaded Siam and destroyed the city of Ayuthhaya.

1824 Britain invaded Burma who subsequently ceded the Arakan coastal strip to British India.
1852 Britain invaded Burma again and annexed Lower Burma, including Rangoon.
1885-86 Britain invaded Burma a third time and captured Mandalay after a brief battle.

Burma became a province of British India.
1937 Britain separated Burma from British India and made Burma a crown colony.

1942 Japan invaded and occupied Burma with some help from the Japanese-trained Burma Independence Army (BIA), led by Aung San.
1943 Aung San later changed sides and transformed BIA into the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL) which resisted Japanese rule.
1945 Britain liberated Burma from Japanese occupation with help from the AFPFL, led by Aung San.
1947 Aung San and six members of his interim government assassinated by political opponents led by U Saw.

1948 Burma became independent with U Nu as prime minister but communists and ethnic groups rebelled.
Mid-1950s U Nu, together with Indian Prime Minister Nehru, Indonesian President Sukarno, Yugoslav President Tito and Egyptian President Nasser co-founded the Movement of Non-Aligned States.
1958 The ruling AFPFL party divided into two factions. Army Chief of Staff General Ne Win led a caretaker government.
1960 U Nu's party faction won in elections and made Buddhism the official state religion. However, political and ethnic disputes continued.
1961 U Thant was elected Secretary-General of the United Nations and served until 1971.

1962 To hold the union together, Ne Win led a coup d'état and ousted U Nu who was tolerant of ethnic separatism. Ne Win suspended the 1947 constitution which provided for the right to secession or withdrawal from the union.

Ne Win inaugurated "the Burmese Way to Socialism" - nationalising the economy. The Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) was founded.
1964 All legal political parties and organizations except BSPP were banned.
1971 Ne Win visited China and normalized relations.
1974 New constitution came into effect, creating the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma.

Power was transfered from the armed forces to a People's Assembly headed by Ne Win and other former military leaders.
1975 Opposition National Democratic Front (formed by regionally-based minority groups) mounted guerrilla insurgencies.
1979 Burma withdrew from the Non-Aligned Movement.
1981 Ne Win relinquished the presidency to San Yu, a retired general, but continued as chairman of the ruling Socialist Programme Party.
1982 Non-indigenous people were designated as "associate citizens" and barred from public office.

1987 Currency devaluation wiped out many people's savings and sparked anti-government riots.

1988 Soldiers opened fire on pro-democracy protesters killing an estimated 3,000 people.

A military coup handed control to General Saw Maung and his State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).
1989 SLORC declared martial law, arrested thousands of people, including advocates of democracy and human rights.

SLORC changed the country's official English name (Burma) to its Burmese name (Myanmar), with the capital, Rangoon, becoming Yangon.

Elections were promised in 1989. The opposition quickly formed a coalition party called the National League for Democracy (NLD), under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of assasinated independence hero Aung San.

Suu Kyi was put under house arrest.

1990 Opposition NLD won the general elections by a landslide but the military refused to recognise the result and hand over control.
1991 Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to peaceful change.
1992 Than Shwe replaced Saw Maung as SLORC chairman, prime minister and defence minister. Several political prisoners freed in bid to improve Burma's international image.
1993 Kachin Independent Organization (KIO), the largest ethnic rebel group, signed ceasefire agreement with government. Other insurgent groups followed.
1995 Suu Kyi was released from house arrest after six years but cannot leave Yangoon.
1996 Suu Kyi attended first NLD congress since her release; SLORC arrested more than 200 delegates on their way to party congress.
1997 Myanmar admitted to Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

SLORC renamed State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

The Myanmar government denied Michael Aris, Suu Kyi's husband (who was diagnosed with cancer) an entry visa. The military authorities offered to allow her to travel to the UK to see him on the condition that she would never return. She chose to remain in Myanmar.

1998 300 NLD members released from prison; ruling council refused to comply with NLD deadline for convening of parliament; student demonstrations broken up.
1999 Michael Aris died of cancer in UK.
2000 Suu Kyi was again put under house arrest.
2001 Ruling council released some 200 pro-democracy activists and reported that releases reflected progress in talks with opposition NLD leader Suu Kyi who remained under house arrest.

The Myanmar army and Shan rebels clashed at Thai border.


Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra visited and said that relations were back on track.

Intelligence chief Khin Nyunt visited Thailand and pledged to eliminate drugs trade in the Golden Triangle by 2005.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited and issued statement supporting government, reportedly urged economic reform.

2002 Suu Kyi was released after nearly 20 months of house arrest and allowed to travel to Mandalay.

Ne Win, accused of plotting to overthrow the military regime, died while under house arrest.
2003 Suu Kyi was taken into "protective custody" in May after she and her convoy were attacked while on a political trip in northern Myanmar. She was allowed home after a gynaecological operation, but remained under house arrest.

Khin Nyunt became prime minister. He proposed to hold convention in May 2004 to draft a new constitution as part of "road map" to democracy.

Five senior NLD leaders released from house arrest after visit of UN human rights envoy.
2004 The government and Karen rebels agreed to end hostilities.

NLD boycotted the constitutional convention as Suu Kyi was barred from it.

Khin Nyunt was placed under house arrest and replaced by Soe Win as prime minister.

Leading dissidents were freed including the leader of the 1988 pro-democracy student demonstrations.

Tsunamis hit the coast of Myanmar. 59 people were reportedly killed and more than 3,000 left homeless.
2005 Constitutional convention resumed but without the the main opposition and ethnic groups. Talks ended with no reports of any clear outcomes.

Three near-simultaneous explosions went off in shopping districts in the capital; the government put the death toll at 23.

Myanmar turned down the 2006 chairmanship of ASEAN.
2006 Myanmar's new administrative capital, Naypyidaw hosted its first official event, an Armed Forces Day parade. Naypyidaw means "Royal City" or "Seat of Kings".

Video footage of an extravagant wedding of Than Shwe's daughter sparked outrage and raised questions about the lifestyles of the military rulers.
2007 China and Russia voted against a draft US resolution at the UN Security Council urging Myanmar to stop persecuting minority and opposition groups.

Myanmar and North Korea restored diplomatic ties, 24 years after Yangon broke them off.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) accused the Myanmar government of abusing the people's rights.


Fuel price hikes sparked wave of public dissent. Dozens of activists were arrested.

Military government declared 14 years of constitutional talks complete and closed the National Convention.

In September, thousands of people led by Buddhist monks marched through central Yangon in a protest against fuel price hikes and the unelected military government. Similar mass protests reported in Mandalay and other cities.

Military crackdown squashed demonstrations ... monks and protesters reportedly rounded up.

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari visited Myanmar, met with Suu Kyi and later, Than Shwe.
2008 Cyclone Nargis battered Myanmar's Irrawady delta on May 2-3 with 190 kmh winds and 3.5 m high waves, wiping out entire villages.

Despite international calls to focus on cyclone relief work and delay the referendum on the new constitution, Myanmar proceeded with the polls on May 10 for two-thirds of the country but was postponed for two weeks in Yangon and areas hit by Cyclone Nargis.

On May 15, Myanmar's junta announced that 92.4% of the ballots cast approved the constitution which allocates one-fourth of the seats in parliament to the military, while banning Suu Kyi from ever holding public office because she was married to a foreigner.
2009 In August, Suu Kyi was convicted of breaching terms of her house arrest after a US citizen tried to visit her in May. The initial sentence of three years' imprisonment is commuted to 18 months' house arrest.
2010 In November, the army-backed party, Union Solidarity and Development Party (formed by Prime Minister Thein Sein and former top military officials) won 80% of the seats in the country's first election in 20 years.

On November 13, a week after the election, Myanmar frees democracy icon Suu Kyi after seven years as a prisoner in her own home.
2011 March 30 - Myanmar swears in Thein Sein as the new president and the military junta is officially dissolved.
2011 April 4 - Myanmar strongman Than Shwe retires as head of the military after handing power to a nominally civilian government