Burmese in Myanmar (Burma)

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Burmese are the majority and dominant people of the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar or Burma as it was formerly known. The Burmese or Burma people were originally from the hills of Tibet in western China. Today, they live in Myanmar, and they speak Burmese, a Tibeto-Burmese language.

In modern times, Myanmar has had a long history of coups, wars, and rebellions. Ethnic divisions and political unrest have been common since the first Burmese kingdom in the eleventh century. Myanmar gained its independence from Britain in 1948. Much of modern Burmese history has been one of civil wars between the Burmese majority and the nation's minority groups that includes the Shan, Karen, Lahu, and Rohingya. The military launched another coup in 2021 and is at the time of this writing ruling the country.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Rice is the stable food of the Burmese people. Burmese farmers grow rice in irrigated fields called wet rice farming. They also cultivate tropical fruits, vegetables, palm tree, and coconuts. Most rural families also raise chickens, and a few goats and pigs to supplement their diets. Some Burmese farmers use the slash and burn method of agriculture. With this process, the fields are cut and burned before any new crops are planted. A Burmese farmer often uses cattle and buffalo to draw heavy wooden plows. It is a daily, arduous task for a Burmese family to go out into the fields to grow the family's rice. Mothers work with their babies, while the older children accompany their grandparents. In rural areas, children frequently quit school after a few years to help their family make a living.

Urban Burmese live lives much like they do in Western nations. They work in education, retail, manufacturing, construction, and administration.

The Burmese do not recognize clans or lineages. Marriages are monogamous, and rarely arranged by the parents. Young couples generally live with the bride's parents for the first few years after they are married. Then they will set up their own homes after two or three years.

Various types of houses can be found in the Burmese villages. The wealthier people often live in sturdy, mahogany homes that are raised off the ground and have plank floors and tile roofs. Those with lower incomes may live in thatched roof, bamboo houses that have dirt floors. All activities take place on the dirt floors, including eating and sleeping. Therefore, it is impolite to enter a Burmese house wearing shoes.

The single most important social institution in the village is the Buddhist temple. It symbolizes unity among the villagers and provides a wide variety of activities for the people. The Burmese have a rich tradition of dance, music, poetry, and arts. It is a great honor for a son of a Burmese family to enter a Buddhist monastery.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Burmese are predominantly Buddhists. The traditional goal in Buddhism is to seek the middle path to Nirvana, or ultimate peace. The Burmese have mixed these Buddhist beliefs with their own animistic beliefs (belief that non-living objects have spirits).

Their animistic beliefs center around inherently evil spirits called nats. The Burmese spend their lives trying to appease the nats so they will be protected from any other evil spirits that may seek to harm them. Typical Burmese homes have altars for the spirits, as well as a statue of Buddha. The village shaman connects the people to the spiritual world. He provides amulets and charms which are supposed to protect the people.

According to their Buddhist faith, the Burmese believe that death is not a threat to one who has done good deeds. Instead, death is simply a "passing" from one life to another. Buddhists believe that those with less merit are reborn as demons, ghosts, animals, or inhabitants of hell.

What Are Their Needs?

Christians make up only a tiny fraction of the Burmese people. Teams of believers can go to villages and provide modern medicine and improved agricultural techniques. Many villages lack electricity so solar panels would greatly benefit the rural Burmese. Most of all, the Burmese need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and free them from their fear of evil spirits.

Prayer Points

Pray that the few Burmese believers would live holy lives, being zealous to grow into the image of Christ.

Ask the Lord to send Holy Spirit anointed workers to the Burmese.

Pray for a spiritual hunger among the Burmese and a desire to read the Burmese Bible.

Pray for just and lasting peace in Myanmar especially between the Burmese and the Rohingya peoples.

Pray for a growing disciple making movement among the Burmese in this decade.

Scripture Prayers for the Burmese in Myanmar (Burma).

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

The Waiting World - The Burmese

Source:  The Waiting World      Download

People Name General Burmese
People Name in Country Burmese
Pronunciation bur-MEEZE
Alternate Names Bama; Bamar; Bamas; Burman; Man; Myan; Myan, Myen; Myanmas; Myen; Yaw; बर्मीज़
Population this Country 31,494,000
Population all Countries 32,184,000
Total Countries 18
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 630
People ID 11029
ROP3 Code 101776
ROP25 Code 301501
ROP25 Name Burmese (Bhama)
Country Myanmar (Burma)
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 17  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Widespread in central Myanmar.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Myanmar (Burma)
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 17  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Widespread in central Myanmar..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Burmese in Myanmar (Burma) Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Religion: Buddhism
Religion Subdivision: Theravada
Major Religion Percent
94.95 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.08 %)
0.35 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
4.30 %
0.40 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Burmese (31,494,000 speakers)
Language Code mya   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Burmese (31,494,000 speakers)
Language Code mya   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Burmese

Primary Language:  Burmese

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1815-1985)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1832-1987)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1835-2021)
FCBH NT (www.bible.is) Online
YouVersion NT (www.bible.com) Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Burmese Jesus Film Project
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Rock International: King of Glory Rock International
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
Film / Video The Hope Video Mars Hill Media
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions Got Questions Ministry
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Four Spiritual Laws Campus Crusade for Christ
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Android Bible app direct APK download SIL
Mobile App Android Bible app: Burmese YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Burmese YouVersion Bibles
Photo Source Anonymous 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Video Source The Waiting World
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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