located IN southeast Asia, the Union of Myanmar has a land area of 261,227 sq. mi. (676,577 sq. km.), a population of 48,798,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 193 people per sq. mi. (75 people per sq. km.). Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the largest city and the former capital, has a population of 4,668,775, making it the 29th largest city in the world. The new capital, Naypyidaw, dates from 2005, and, internationally, little is known about it. About 15 percent of the country is arable, an additional 1 percent used for pasture, and 34 percent of Myanmar remains forested, although there has been an increase in logging in recent years, with teak now the major export of the country.
Relatively underdeveloped, and with large parts of the country having only irregular use of electricity, if at all, Myanmar has a very low rate of carbon dioxide emissions per capita, at 0.1 metric tons per person in 1990, and rising gradually to 0.21 metric tons per person in 2004. This is in spite of the tropical climate, and the heavy use of air conditioners in the cities. Myanmar has its own oil industry, with petrol and gas used to generate electricity. Approximately 83.3 percent of the country's electricity comes from fossil fuels, with the remainder from hydropower. As a result, liquid fuels make up 57 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, and gaseous fuels make up another 39 percent. The remainder comes from solid fuels and from the manufacture of cement. About 36 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the country come from transportation, 30 percent from the generation of electricity, and 15 percent from manufacturing and construction.
The main effect of global warming and climate change on Myanmar has been the increased risk of flooding, especially at the mouth of the Irrawaddy. The Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 led to serious flooding of this region. Although the Myanmar government officially stated that the death toll was only 61, with 200 missing, most commentators felt that many more human casualties occurred. The flooding washed away topsoil and destroyed arable land, and will also cause a rise in insect-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever.
The Myanmar government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992. They accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on August 13, 2003, and it took effect on February 16, 2005.
sEE also: Floods; Deforestation; Diseases; Hurricanes and Typhoons.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. Norman Joseph and Maurice Joseph, "And the Dawn Came Up Like Thunder," Geographical (v.71/11, 1999); Khin Maung Kyi, "Modernization of Burmese Agriculture: Problems and Prospects," Southeast Asian Affairs (1982); David I. Steinberg, Turmoil in Burma: Contested Legitimacies in Myanmar (EastBridge, 2006); J.L. Swedlow, "Burma: The Richest of Poor Countries," National Geographic (v.188/1, 1995); World Resources Institute, "Myanmar—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007).
Robin S. Corfield Independent Scholar
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