As we turn to contemporary history and the birth of the so-called Union of Burma, we should go back to 1824, when the British and Siamese joined forces against Burma. The First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-26) ended in a British victory, and by the Treaty of Yandaboo, Myanmar lost Assam, Manipur, Arakan, and Tenasserim. The second and third Anglo-Burmese wars occurred in 1852 and 1885 and resulted in definitive victory of the British and their resolution to make Burma a province of India with the capital at Rangoon.
During the British ruling, the resistance of Burmese people continued and in response, the British resorted to a systematic destruction of villages and appointment of officials to finally stop rebellious activities. During the years of British ruling, the Burmese economy grew; however, Burmese people grew poor.
A new generation of Burmese leaders arose in the early twentieth century from amongst the educated classes that were permitted to go to London to study law. They came to decision and belief that the Burmese situation could be improved through peaceful protest and negotiations. Peaceful strikes and peasant rebellions organized by those pioneers led to several constitutional reforms and somewhat increasing powers of Burmese nationals.
In 1948, Burma gained independence and was renamed the Union of Burma. This victory owes much to the great efforts of General Aung San. To this day, Aung San is a national hero, whose image is represented on walls all over Burma.
However, protests, human rights abuses, and rebellions did not stop after Union of Burma gained independence. Ethnic minorities struggled for their rights, students and workers expressed their protests against the strong military regime that still governs the country.
In 1974, when the military passed a new constitution, the country became the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma. Finally, in 1989, after the bloody repression of the summer 1988's democratic demonstrations, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) came to power and renamed the country the Union of Myanmar. In general, Myanmar, former Union of Burma is far away from democracy and political peace.
It is widely announced that throughout the military junta's rule, there have been a great number of human rights violations. Reports by Amnesty International, the UN, Human Rights Watch, and many other groups have regularly described murder, torture, rape, detention without trial, and massive forced labor of villagers as military porters in combat zones. However, there are projects aimed at helping the country transit from a closed to an open society as well as increase international awareness of the conditions in Burma.
Despite a complex political situation, tourism in Burma is promoted worldwide. Actually, Burma is a unique country and holidays in Burma provide tons of opportunities to become acquainted with "the most Golden Land" in the world. It is just surprising how people suppressed for so many years have managed to preserve their incredible genius and mastery.