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Burma People - 2024


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57,970,293 (2023 est.)


noun: Burmese (singular and plural)

adjective: Burmese

Ethnic groups

Burman (Bamar) 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%

note: the largest ethnic group — the Burman (or Bamar) — dominate politics, and the military ranks are largely drawn from this ethnic group; the Burman mainly populate the central parts of the country, while various ethnic minorities have traditionally lived in the peripheral regions that surround the plains in a horseshoe shape; the government recognizes 135 indigenous ethnic groups


Burmese (official)

major-language sample(s):
ကမ္ဘာ့အချက်အလက်စာအုပ်- အခြေခံအချက်အလက်တွေအတွက် မရှိမဖြစ်တဲ့ အရင်းအမြစ် (Burmese)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

note: minority ethnic groups use their own languages


Buddhist 87.9%, Christian 6.2%, Muslim 4.3%, Animist 0.8%, Hindu 0.5%, other 0.2%, none 0.1% (2014 est.)

note: religion estimate is based on the 2014 national census, including an estimate for the non-enumerated population of Rakhine State, which is assumed to mainly affiliate with the Islamic faith; as of December 2019, Muslims probably make up less than 3% of Burma's total population due to the large outmigration of the Rohingya population since 2017

Demographic profile

Burma’s 2014 national census – the first in more than 30 years – revealed that the country’s total population is approximately 51.5 million, significantly lower than the Burmese Government’s prior estimate of 61 million.  The Burmese Government assumed that the 2% population growth rate between 1973 and 1983 remained constant and that emigration was zero, ignoring later sample surveys showing declining fertility rates and substantial labor migration abroad in recent decades.  These factors reduced the estimated average annual growth rate between 2003 and 2014 to about .9%.  Among Southeast Asian countries, Burma’s life expectancy is among the lowest and its infant and maternal mortality rates are among the highest.  The large difference in life expectancy between women and men has resulted in older age cohorts consisting of far more women than men.

Burma’s demographic transition began in the 1950s, when mortality rates began to drop.  Fertility did not start to decrease until the 1960s, sustaining high population growth until the decline accelerated in the 1980s.  The birth rate has held fairly steady from 2000 until today.  Since the 1970s, the total fertility rate (TFR) has fallen more than 60%, from almost 6 children per woman to 2.2 in 2016.  The reduced TFR is largely a result of women marrying later and more women never marrying, both being associated with greater educational attainment and labor force participation among women.  TFR, however, varies regionally, between urban and rural areas, by educational attainment, and among ethnic groups, with fertility lowest in urban areas (where it is below replacement level).

The shift in Burma’s age structure has been slow (45% of the population is still under 25 years of age) and uneven among its socioeconomic groups.  Any economic boost from the growth of the working-age population is likely to take longer to develop, to have a smaller impact, and to be distributed unequally.  Rural poverty and unemployment continue to drive high levels of internal and international migration.  The majority of labor migration is internal, mainly from rural to urban areas.  The new government’s growing regional integration, reforms, and improved diplomatic relations are increasing the pace of international migration and destination choices.  As many as 4-5 million Burmese, mostly from rural areas and several ethnic groups, have taken up unskilled jobs abroad in agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and domestic service.  Thailand is the most common destination, hosting about 70% of Burma’s international migrants, followed by Malaysia, China, and Singapore. 

Burma is a patchwork of more than 130 religious and ethnic groups, distinguishing it as one of the most diverse countries in the region.  Ethnic minorities face substantial discrimination, and the Rohingya, the largest Muslim group, are arguably the most persecuted population in the country.  The Burmese Government and the Buddhist majority see the Rohingya as a threat to identity, competitors for jobs and resources, terrorists, and some still resent them for their alliance with Burma’s British colonizers during its 19th century.  Since at least the 1960s, they have been subjected to systematic human rights abuses, violence, marginalization, and disenfranchisement, which authorities continue to deny.  Despite living in Burma for centuries, many Burmese see the Rohingya as illegal Bengali immigrants and refer to them Bengalis.  As a result, the Rohingya have been classified as foreign residents and stripped of their citizenship, rendering them one of the largest stateless populations in the world.  

Hundreds of thousands of Burmese from various ethnic groups have been internally displaced (an estimated 644,000 as of year-end 2016) or have fled to neighboring countries over the decades because of persecution, armed conflict, rural development projects, drought, and natural disasters.  Bangladesh has absorbed the most refugees from Burma, with an estimated 33,000 officially recognized and 200,000 to 500,000 unrecognized Rohingya refugees, as of 2016.  An escalation in violation has caused a surge in the inflow of Rohingya refugees since late August 2017, raising the number to an estimated 870,000.  As of June 2017, another approximately 132,500 refugees, largely Rohingya and Chin, were living in Malaysia, and more than 100,000, mostly Karen, were housed in camps along the Burma-Thailand border. 

Age structure

0-14 years: 24.89% (male 7,394,557/female 7,036,651)

15-64 years: 68.3% (male 19,496,581/female 20,097,806)

65 years and over: 6.8% (2023 est.) (male 1,718,677/female 2,226,021)

2023 population pyramid:

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 46

youth dependency ratio: 36.3

elderly dependency ratio: 9.7

potential support ratio: 10.3 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 30.4 years (2023 est.)

male: 29.5 years

female: 31.3 years

Population growth rate

0.73% (2023 est.)

Birth rate

16.1 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Death rate

7.4 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Net migration rate

-1.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Population distribution

population concentrated along coastal areas and in general proximity to the shores of the Irrawaddy River; the extreme north is relatively underpopulated


urban population: 32.1% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.85% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

5.610 million RANGOON (Yangon) (capital), 1.532 million Mandalay (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

24.7 years (2015/16 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

179 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 33.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 36.7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 29.8 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 69.8 years (2023 est.)

male: 68.1 years

female: 71.6 years

Total fertility rate

2 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Gross reproduction rate

0.97 (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

52.2% (2015/16)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 95.4% of population

rural: 80.7% of population

total: 85.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 4.6% of population

rural: 19.3% of population

total: 14.7% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

3.7% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.74 physicians/1,000 population (2019)

Hospital bed density

1 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 93.9% of population

rural: 81.3% of population

total: 85.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 6.1% of population

rural: 18.7% of population

total: 14.8% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and sexually transmitted diseases: hepatitis B (2024)

animal contact diseases: rabies

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

5.8% (2016)

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 2.06 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.5 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 1.55 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 44.1% (2020 est.)

male: 68.5% (2020 est.)

female: 19.7% (2020 est.)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

19.1% (2017/18)

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

57.5% (2023 est.)

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 1.9%

women married by age 18: 16%

men married by age 18: 5% (2016 est.)

Education expenditures

2.1% of GDP (2019 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 89.1%

male: 92.4%

female: 86.3% (2019)

note: most public schools were closed immediately after the coup in 2021, and attendance has remained low since schools reopened; literacy is expected to decline from 2019 to 2023

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 10 years

female: 11 years (2018)

NOTE: The information regarding Burma on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Burma 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Burma 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.