Which Countries Border Myanmar?

Bordering crossing between Mae Sai, Thailand and Tachileik, Myanmar.  Editorial credit: Christopher PB / Shutterstock.com
Bordering crossing between Mae Sai, Thailand and Tachileik, Myanmar. Editorial credit: Christopher PB / Shutterstock.com

Officially known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Myanmar is a country that is situated in the southeastern region of the Asian continent. More specifically, the country is enclosed within the latitudes 9° N and 29° N and by the longitudes 92° E and 102° E. Unofficially, the country is also known as Burma. The country has an area of about 261,228 square miles and an estimated population of about 54 million people. The capital city of the country is Naypyidaw while Yangon or Rangoon is the largest city. Myanmar is bordered by a total of five countries. The western side of the country is bordered by Bangladesh and India while Laos and Thailand border the eastern side. China forms the border to the north and the northeast of Burma. The south is not bordered by a country but by two water bodies namely the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. With these two water bodies, Myanmar forms an uninterrupted coastline with a length of about 1,200 miles. The whole country has a total perimeter or borderline of about 3,651 miles, including the coastline.

Myanmar – India Border

This border is more of a border barrier that has a length of about 1,009 miles. The border barrier is a project that is underway as per the desires of the Indian government. The construction of the wall has several purposes including the prevention of border crime, drug trafficking, insurgency, and other things. To guard this barrier, there are proposals of an Indo-Myanmar Border Force (IMBF), which will be a sizeable force if implemented.

International border crossings between the two countries exist in a number of places such as the Zorinpui International border crossing, which is located in Mizoram. Another crossing exists at Moreh on the Indian side and Tamu in Myanmar. Aside from that, the border has something known as the Free Movement Regime (FMR). The FMR gives the locals along the border the freedom to move about 10 miles across the border without a visa. This freedom is enjoyed by about 300,000 people living in more than 250 villages within 10 miles on either side of the border.

Aside from these crossings, there are some international highways between the two countries. An example of such a highway is the India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway, which, as the name suggests, also connects Thailand to both India and Myanmar. Another such highway is the Imphal-Moreh-Mandalay national highway, which also provides connectivity with Bangladesh.

Myanmar – Bangladesh Border

This international border has a length of about 170 miles with a huge chunk (about 130 miles) being fenced. According to the government of Myanmar, there are plans to go on ahead and fence the remaining 40 miles. The main reason why the borer was fenced was the high number of refugees from Rohingya, Myanmar into Bangladesh. The Maungdaw District, which is close to the border in Myanmar, has a huge chunk of its population (about 80%) made up of refugees wishing to cross to Bangladesh. As of December 2017, between 655,000 and 700,000 people crossed to Myanmar. The high number of refugees from Rohingya is due to the clashes between the Rohingya people and Myanmar authorities.

In 2015, the two countries were involved in the border clash between the Arakan Army (from Myanmar) and Bangladesh, which happened in the Bandarban District. The clashes started when the border guards from Bangladesh rescued two soldiers from Myanmar from the clutches of the Arakan Army. In retaliation, the Arakan Army opened fire on a Bangladeshi patrol, which prompted a retaliatory attack and the following clash. The clash only lasted for one day with no deaths reported on either side.

Myanmar – China Border

The border between China and Myanmar is a mountainous region with the Hengduan Mountains on the Chinese side and the Hkakabo Razi mountains in Myanmar. The Hkakabo Razi Mountains have a height of about 19,295 feet, which is where the border begins. The border then passes through other mountain ranges such as Jigongshan and Jiangaosh (which has a height of about 10,833 feet). The border then continues to other mountainous regions as well as parts of the Mekong River. Eventually, this border ends at the border with Laos. Border crossings between the two countries exist at a number of places including Ruili City (China), Muse (Myanmar), and Diphu Pass.

The two countries share a bilateral relationship with the bilateral trade worth more than $1.4 billion. China imports several products such as oil and textiles from Myanmar while Myanmar imports a number of things such as wood and rubber. In addition, they both have links to the Sino-Tibetan (or the Trans-Himalayan) language family. However, the relationship has been strained in recent times due to the conflict between armed forces in Burma and Chinese rebels close to the border. In addition, Burma has been showing a hostile attitude while dealing with China. However, it should be noted that the relationship between the two is not the worst due to the hostile relationship between China and Vietnam.

Myanmar – Thailand Border

The border between these two countries can be crossed at a number of places such as the Mae Sot District, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and the Singkhon Pass. Other crossings include the likes of the Three Pagodas Pass, Mae Sai, Myawaddy, and Ranong. The two countries have good relations with each country having an embassy in the other. Mostly, the relationship between the two is economic although there is the occasional conflict over the location of the border.

Myanmar – Laos Border

This international border between the two countries can be crossed at places like the Wan Pong checkpoint in Shan State. In September 2018, the two countries also opened the Myanmar-Laos Friendship Bridge in a bid to improve the relations. The bridge acts as a link between Kyainglap in Tachileik district and Laos’s Xieng Kok. However, people wishing to cross the border need official documents. The bridge was actually completed back in 2016 although it stayed closed since the two countries could not agree on a few issues to do with the demarcation of the border.


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