General issues: British colony 1937-1942, British military administration 1945-1946, British colony 1946-1947, Self government 1947-1948, Union of Burma 1948-1974, Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma 1974-1988, Union of Burma 1988-1989
Country name on general issues: Burma
Special issues: Burmese Independence Army Henzada issues 1942, Myaungmya issues 1942, Pyapon issues 1942, Japanese occupation 1942, Japanese occupation/Shan States 1943, State of Burma 1943-1945
Currency: 1 Rupee = 16 Annas = 12 Pies 1937-1953, 1 Kyat = 100 Pyas 1953-1989
Population: 15 360 000 in 1937, 40 030 000 in 1989
Political history Burma
Burma is located in southeastern Asia. At the start of the 19th century Burma is an independent kingdom in which many ethnic groups live, some of which pay only nominal respect to the king. The British colonize Burma in three stages following the three Anglo-Burmese wars in 1824-1826, 1852 and 1885. The British ruled Burma as a province of British India, although special legislation was put in place as Burma was a largely Buddhist state – other than the largely Hindu and Muslim British India. While most of Burma was under direct colonial rule, the Shan and Karenni States were governed as princely states with a certain amount of internal self government. In 1937, Burma became a colony in its own right, no longer being governed from British India but directly by the Colonial Office in London.
WWII and aftermath
In the advance of WWII, Burmese nationalists look to Japan to support their strive for an independent Burma. With Japanese support the Burmese Independence Army is set up. In WWII Burma, in 1942, is overrun and occupied by Japan – supported by the Burmese Independence Army. The Japanese, subsequently, in 1943 form the State of Burma, a nominally independent republic in which the Burmese Independence Army is incorporated. Thailand – one of Japan’s allies – in 1943 annexes part of the Shan States.
In 1945, Japan surrenders Burma to the British who install a military administration. The Shan States – annexed by Thailand – are returned to Burma. The British military administration is succeeded in 1946 by a civil colonial administration.
Union of Burma
Burma gains self government in 1947 and gains full independence in 1948 as a republic by the name of the Union of Burma. The Shan and Karenni States – in colonial times governed as princely states – retain a form of self government until 1959, when they are fully integrated in the Union of Burma. This being said, the Shan States are, until the present day, a matter of concern for the central government as different factions often have the real power in the area.
In 1962, an end comes to the democracy in Burma following a military coup d’etat. The military will rule Burma until 2010. In the 1960’s, Burma is transformed into a socialist one party state and in 1974 the formal name of the country is changed to that of the socialist republic of the Union of Burma. Increasing protests in the 1980’s lead to a relaxation of the socialist regime in 1988. At that occasion, the name of the country is also changed back to Union of Burma. The name of the country is changed again in 1989, this time to the Union of Myanmar. Democracy is restored in Myanmar in 2010.
Economically the country has suffered from the isolationist, socialist policies under the military regime. Since 2010, economic reforms have taken place. Although the economy of Myanmar is in the upswing, it still is very much a developing country.
Postal history Burma
After colonization by the British, stamps from British India are used in Burma. When Burma, in 1937, becomes a separate colony, the first stamps are issued for Burma. The first issue are overprints on stamps of British India. Following the occupation by Japan, stamps are issued both by the Burmese Independence Army and the Japanese administration. The stamps of the Burmese Independence Army are locally issued in 1942 in the cities of Henzada, Myaungmya and Pyapon. These issues are Burmese stamps with the overprint of a peacock – the national symbol of Burma, also seen on some regular issues of Burma. As of 1943, stamps are issued in the name of the State of Burma. In 1943 stamps are issued specifically for use in the Shan States – throughout the history of Burma states with a special status.
After Burma has been returned to the British in 1945, the British military administration issues stamps with an overprint reading ‘MILY ADMIN’. These are superseded by the issues of the British civil administration in 1946. As Burma gains self government, the stamps of the British civil administration are overprinted in Burmese with a text meaning ‘Interim government’. Finally, in 1948, these issues are superseded by the issues of the Union of Burma. The changes in the name of the country in 1974 – Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma – and in 1988 – Union of Burma – are reflected in the full name of the country on the stamps issued in these periods. As of 1989, stamps are issued in the name of the Union of Myanmar.