Burma, or Myanmar to give it its present-day name is full of paradoxes. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and yet has an abundance of natural resources including fertile land, ores of gold, silver and copper, and precious stones such as diamonds. It is a Buddhist country but has a long history of turmoil and even now spends 40% of government revenues on its armed forces. Its people are highly skilled but it has little by way of manufactured exports. It is not that these are new features of the country. Over the centuries they have all played an essential part in shaping a country that has an abundance of cultural attractions .
Without the minerals it would not have been able to afford the 60 tons of gold used to cover the Shwedagon Pagoda. Without its fertile land and efficient agriculture it would not have been able to feed the highly skilled artisans needed to build the countless exquisite pagodas scattered across the Bagan plain.
This book shows just some of the rich culture that has been Myanmar’s past. Let us hope that the present period of transition will lead to a future that is as rich as the past.