President Obama recently traveled to Myanmar (also known as Burma) and gave, “a speech at the University of Yangon… encourag(ing) the nation to continue investing in its young citizens and pursuing a more democratic government”. This is the first time that a serving U.S. President has visited the previously dictator ruled country.
Hosting the president is a sign of progress in the country’s recent steps towards a democratic government and open market. Myanmar holds a history of conflict and exploitation, with numerous accounts of human rights violations. The BBC reports that:
From 1962 to 2011, the country was ruled by a military junta that suppressed almost all dissent and wielded absolute power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions.
The economy is one of the least developed in the world, and is suffering the effects of decades of stagnation, mismanagement, and isolation. Key industries have long been controlled by the military, and corruption is rife. The military has also been accused of large-scale trafficking in heroin, of which Burma is a major exporter. Burma’s wealth of Buddhist temples has boosted the increasingly important tourism industry, which is the most obvious area for any future foreign investment.