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Situated adjacent to India, China, and Thailand, the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, previously known as Burma, was the region referred to as Suvarnabhumi (“Golden Land”) in the Buddhist Jatakas. With a population of more than 47,758,000, about 89% of the people profess Buddhism. Christians and Muslims constitute 4% each, and the rest practice different religions. The religion of Myanmar has been influenced chiefly by Indian Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The spread of Buddhism also was due to close cultural contact with Sri Lanka.

The account of the advent of Buddhism in Myanmar before the Common Era period can be gleaned from legends, traditions, and literary sources. It was believed that Gautama Buddha (567–487 BCE) himself visited the region. Two merchants from the Utkala region in ...

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