The first known city-states emerged in central Burma around the 2nd century BC by Pyu tribes who initiated trade with India and brought Buddhism to the region.
Repeated attacks by the Kingdom of Nanzhao during the 8th century AD forced the decline of the Pyu culture. By the late 9th century, Nanzhao had founded a small settlement at Pagan (Bagan).
The Pagan civilization flourished throughout the 11th century, and ultimately absorbed the surrounding settlements, forming the Pagan Empire. Together with the Khmer Empire, the Pagan Empire was one of the main powers of Southeast Asia at the time, and subsequently the Burmese language and culture dominated the land.
However, the Pagans were no match for Mongol invaders, and after repeated invasions the empire collapsed in 1287.
The Mongols migrated out of the region shortly after the fall of the Pagans, leaving several smaller kingdoms, which sparked an era of wars and switching alliances.
In 1364 the successor state of Ava was founded in central Burma, in an attempt to reassemble the Pagan Empire. Unfortunately, while it was successful in reigning the Toungoo and peripheral Shan states, it failed to conquer the remaining states, and was eventually overrun by Toungoo forces in 1555.
Tabinshwehti, Toungoo's overly ambitious king, conquered a vast amount of Southeast Asia throughout the 16th century, becoming the area's largest empire in history. However, after the death of Tabinshwehti's successor, Bayinnaung, the empire began to unravel, before completely dissolving in 1599.
Through the next two centuries, Burma fell under the ruling of numerous small kingdoms, was conquered by the British in the 19th century and incorporated into its Indian Empire
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This page was last modified on September 29, 2015.