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August 2016



A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Chauk, Burma (commonly referred to as Myanmar). Chauk is located along the Irrawaddy River, inland from the Bay of Bengal, about 600 km from the capital of Rangoon. Burma lies between Bangladesh and Thailand, bordering the Andaman Sean and the Bay of Bangal.

The country's central lowlands are ringed by steep, rugged highlands. Its climate is described as tropical; rainy, hot and humid summers are followed by more mild winters. Monsoon season in the southwest is from June to September, in the northeast from December to April.

Various ethnic Burmese and ethnic minority city-states or kingdoms occupied the present borders through the 19th century. Over a period of 62 years (1824-1886), Britain conquered Burma and incorporated the country into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony. In 1948, Burma attained independence from the British Commonwealth.

Gen. Ne Win dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president. In response to widespread civil unrest, Ne Win resigned in 1988, but within months the military crushed student-led protests and took power. Multiparty legislative elections in 1990 resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory.

In late September 2007, the ruling junta brutally suppressed protests over increased fuel prices led by pro-democracy activists and Buddhist monks. In early May 2008, Burma was struck by Cyclone Nargis, which left over 138,000 dead and tens of thousands injured and homeless. Despite this tragedy, the junta proceeded with its May constitutional referendum, the first vote in Burma since 1990. Legislative elections held in November 2010 (boycotted by the NLD), were considered flawed by many in the international community. The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party garnered over 75% of the seats.

In a flawed but largely credible national legislative election in November 2015 featuring more than 90 political parties, the NLD again won a landslide victory. Using its overwhelming majority in both houses of parliament, the NLD elected Htin Kyaw, as president. Burma's first civilian government after more than five decades of military dictatorship was sworn into office on 30 March 2016.

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program; CIA World Factbook, 8/2016; 8/2016

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