Australia today announced that it is relaxing political sanctions against the country formerly known as Burma. The US and England will soon follow suit…all responding to growing political reforms after decades of military rule and political oppression. Meanwhile, crony capitalists that profited under the military regime are re-branding their images in an attempt to maintain their wealth and influence.
A foreigner pauses to look at the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, a famous landmark in Myanmar, in Yangon in February. The country's tourism industry is racing to keep up with the rush of visitors now that Myanmar is opening to the outside world.
Credit Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Foreign tourists photograph a monk praying at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.
Here's a word of advice for those who might be considering visiting Myanmar: Hurry.
The rapid pace of political change in the past year — capped by the recent election to parliament of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — has many tourists and foreign investors rushing to Myanmar, also known as Burma. And it's starting to get a little crowded.
Supporters greet Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, atop her vehicle, as she arrives at an election campaign rally in Thongwa village, Myanmar, on Sunday. The country's new government is holding legislative elections on April 1.
Credit Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters/Landov
A girl from the Kachin ethnic group waves the flag of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy as the democracy leader arrives in Namti village last week.
Credit Chris McGrath / Getty Images
Myanmar President Thein Sein (shown here in Singapore on Jan. 30) has introduced a number of changes. His decision to halt construction of Chinese-supported dam project on the Irrawaddy River was widely praised in the country.
Credit Khin Maung Win / AP
A Buddhist monk reads a newspaper in Yangon on Tuesday. Newspaper articles that would have been rejected by Myanmar's draconian state censors just months ago are making it into print, in one of many signs that the long-repressed country is becoming more open.
Once an international pariah ruled by a repressive military regime, Myanmar has in recent months become one of Southeast Asia's hottest destinations.
Last year, a nominally civilian government took over and began political changes in the country also known as Burma. Now, foreign investors and tourists are flooding in, and foreign governments are considering lifting their sanctions.
The military-backed government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has surprised many skeptics with the pace of its political reforms — releasing political prisoners, easing censorship and making peace with ethnic insurgents.
But none of these reforms have won it as much praise as its efforts to mend fences with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. After nearly two decades under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now aiming to work for democracy within the system by running for a seat in parliament.