It was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate self-governing colony.
Most of the jobs in the British led administration were occupied by people brought from India and the local Bamar people were sidelined.
What was once one of the richest and most developed countries in Asia has since slumped into poverty due to inefficient economic policies, rural poverty and corruption.
The Japanese occupation was very brutal, and many Burmese were killed, such as in the Kalagong massacre.
However, the government soon suppressed the protests by firing on crowds, arresting monks and closing monasteries, and temporarily shut down Internet communications with the rest of the world.
This led the USA, Australia, Canada and the European Union to impose additional sanctions, some targeting the families and finances of the military leaders.
The new central government of the nation quickly worked to consolidate its power, marginalizing and angering tribal leaders and setting off more than a decade of armed conflict.
In 1961, more than 200 ethnic leaders from the Shan, Kachin, Red Karen, Karen, Chin, Mon and Rakhine people met with ethnic Bamar (Burmese) central government authorities to draft a new form of government which would ensure the tribes both autonomy and self-determination within a federal system.In response to the government's attack in May 2003 on Aung San Suu Kyi and her convoy, the USA imposed new economic sanctions against Myanmar, including bans on imports of products from Myanmar and on provision of financial services by US citizens.The summer of 2007 was marked by demonstrations against the military government which were again brutally suppressed.For the next millennium, the Burmese empire grew through conquests of Thailand (Ayutthaya) and India (Manipur), and shrank under attacks from China and internal rebellions.