It was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate self-governing colony.Most of the jobs in the British led administration were occupied by people brought from India and the local Bamar people were sidelined.
In response to the government's attack in May 2003 on Aung San Suu Kyi and her convoy, the USA imposed new economic sanctions against Myanmar, including bans on imports of products from Myanmar and on provision of financial services by US citizens.
The summer of 2007 was marked by demonstrations against the military government which were again brutally suppressed.
The demonstrations started in August, apparently in an uncoordinated manner, as a protest against a stiff hike in the price of petrol, but morphed into a more serious challenge to the government after three monks were beaten at a protest march in the town of Pakokku.
The monks demanded an apology but none was forthcoming and soon processions of monks with alms bowls held upside down filled many cities (including Sittwe, Mandalay, and Yangon).
The government called out troops and the rioters were defiant until the monks intervened: standing between both sides, they told everyone to go home and they did.
The riots caused overseas development assistance to cease and the government subsequently nullified the results of the 1990 legislative elections.
Yangon, particularly the area around Sule Pagoda in the downtown area, became the centre of these protests.
While the monks marched, and many ordinary citizens came out in support of the monks, the world watched as pictures, videos, and blogs flooded the Internet.
Aung San subsequently switched allegiance and helped the British win Burma back from the Japanese.
Aung San subsequently led negotiations with the British for Burmese independence after the end of World War II, and the British agreed in 1947 to grant independence to Burma the following year, though Aung San himself was assassinated later in the year and never lived to see his dream come true.
General Ne Win dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin.