There are no accurate figures on the population of Lower and Upper Burma before the British colonial period. According to one estimate, the population in 1785, early in the reign of King Bodawpaya, was 4.7 million (rounded), of whom 3.5 million lived in Upper Burma. That a much smaller number (1.2 million) seem to have lived in fertile Lower Burma probably reflects the devastation resulting from the suppression of the Mons in the late 18th century by King Alaungpaya and his successors. Following the British colonial occupation, the populations of both areas were roughly equal, due largely to the migration of farmers from Upper to Lower Burma after the Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852). The colonial government's decennial censuses reported a country-wide population of 8.1 million in 1891, 10.5 million in 1901, 12.1 million in 1911, 13.2 million in 1921, 14.7 million in 1931, and 16.8 million in 1941. World War II, the Japanese occupation, and civil war after 1948 did not halt population growth: in 1951, a population of 19.1 million was recorded, and by 1961 it had reached 22.2 million. Between 1901 and 1983, annual population growth varied between 0.87 and 2.32 percent.
   After independence in 1948, the collection of accurate demographic figures was hampered by unrest and insurgency, especially in border areas where ethnic minorities lived and carved out "liberated areas." The Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) government carried out the last national census in 1983: a total population of 35.3 million people was counted at that time. It was estimated to be 43.1 million in 1993, 46.4 million in 1997, and between 48 and 50 million at the start of the 21st century. The U.S. government published an estimate of 42,510,537 for July 2003 (CIA World Factbook, 2004). Estimates of annual population growth rates also vary widely, from 0.52 percent to 1.7 percent.
   There is general agreement that ethnic majority Burmans (Bamars) comprise roughly two-thirds of the total population, although an accurate ethnic breakdown has not been available since colonial times, if even then. The largest minority groups are believed to be the Shans and Karens. During the colonial period, many Indians and Chinese migrated to Burma, but their numbers declined dramatically during World War II and, after the establishment of the BSPP regime, by Ne Win in 1962.
   By Asian standards, Burma is not a densely populated country, with an average of 74 persons per square kilometer. Only 27 percent of the population lives in urban areas, reflecting the undeveloped state of the industrial economy even after liberalization policies were adopted by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (the urbanization average for Southeast Asia is 37 percent). Because of deepening rural poverty, however, the urban population seems to be growing in recent years relative to the population as a whole because large numbers of poor villagers now work in urban factories or construction sites. There are no accurate figures on the populations of the major cities; Rangoon (Yangon) has between 4.5 and 5 million residents and Mandalay, 600,000 to 800,000. Also, there are no credible statistics on new immigrants from the People's Republic of China (PRC), who are believed to number as many as several hundred thousand, especially in Upper Burma and Shan State. Along with large refugee populations in neighboring countries, such as Thailand and Bangladesh, Chinese in-migration represents an important demographic change in post-1988 Burma. Another factor is the impact of AIDS: In 2005, the country had an estimated 600,000 people afflicted with HIV/AIDS, and the epidemic has had a significant impact on mortality rates and population growth, especially because most of the victims are young people. Life expectancy at birth for both sexes is 55.8 years, which is low compared to Burma's neighbors, including Thailand (71.2 years).
   See also Health.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.


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  • population — [ pɔpylasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • populacion mil. XVIIIe; repris de l angl.; 1335 « peuplement » rare; bas lat. populatio, de populus « peuple » 1 ♦ Ensemble des personnes qui habitent un espace, une terre. La population du globe, de la France, d une ville …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • population — pop‧u‧la‧tion [ˌpɒpjˈleɪʆn ǁ ˌpɑː ] noun 1. [countable, uncountable] the number of people who live in a particular country or area: • a city with a population of over 2 million • Hong Kong s rapid growth in population 2. [countable usually… …   Financial and business terms

  • Population — Pop u*la tion, n. [L. populatio: cf. F. population.] 1. The act or process of populating; multiplication of inhabitants. [1913 Webster] 2. The whole number of people, or inhabitants, in a country, or portion of a country; as, a population of ten… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Population — steht für: fachsprachlich veraltet: Bevölkerung eine Gruppe von Individuen einer Art (Tiere und Pflanzen), die zur gleichen Zeit am selben Ort leben und sich miteinander fortpflanzen können, siehe Population (Biologie) in der Statistik für die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • population — 1570s, from L.L. populationem (5c., nom. populatio) a people, multitude, as if a noun of action from L. populus people. Population explosion is first attested 1953 …   Etymology dictionary

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