UNICEF in Myanmar

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A country of contrasts

© UNICEF Myanmar/2004/Noorani

Myanmar is one of Southeast Asia's largest nations, with a population of more than 52 million people. With 135 different ethnic groups calling Myanmar home, it is also one of the world's most diverse countries, with a rich history and panoply of cultural and religious traditions.

Myanmar is a geographically diverse country, boasting fertile tropical deltas in the south and a rugged landscape in the Himalayan foothills of the north. The country is situated along the Bay of Bengal, and shares borders with Bangladesh, China, India, the Lao PDR and Thailand.

Approximately 70% of Myanmar's people live in the countryside, and most rural families make their living from farming. While the country is rich in natural resources, the per capita gross national income has been estimated to be only US$ 220 a year.

Long standing conflicts have exacerbated the challenges that many families face. Public sector investments and expenditures in most program areas in which UNICEF works, such as education and health, are extremely low. Myanmar also receives very little overseas development assistance (ODA). Current internal and international investment levels are not sufficient to provide all of the nation's children with an education, healthcare and other basic social services.

Because of its size and diversity, there are disparities between children living in different areas of Myanmar in terms of access to basic health services, clean water and adequate sanitation facilities, malnutrition rates, primary school enrollment and completion rates, and protective services. UNICEF works with many partners to address these disparities and to try to provide basic services to all of the country's children.



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