By Milton W. Meyer
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They kept extensive records of their activities. When in the nineteenth century European crowns succeeded the companies as colonial rulers, state representatives continued voluminous official accounts. In politically independent China and Japan, foreign traders and church representatives also chronicled events. But wherever they were compiled, the colonial works stressed Western activities and achievements. Not much was recorded on what the inhabitants themselves thought or how they reacted to the alien presence.
Mountains or upland areas surround it. The capital, largest city, and trade center is Yangon (formerly Rangoon). Mandalay, up the Ayeyarwady River, is the second city. Rice, forest products, oil, and precious stones are main products of the Burmese economy. The Burmans are the main ethnic group, but sizable minorities, including the Shans, Kachins, and Karens, in the peripheral areas pose political problems. Thailand (Land of the Free) lies to the east of Myanmar. Earlier known as Siam, the country kept its independence in the course of colonial rule in Southeast Asia, thanks to the political astuteness of its kings and to counteracting Anglo-French rivalry in the area.
Buddhism issued from its fold, the first of several complementary faiths that helped fashion the Indic way of life. D. 1000. Islam then entered the subcontinent to leave its indelible heritage. In China, early traditions (collectively termed sinicism, from the Greek sinai for foreign) emphasized such concepts as the importance of the family, ancestor worship, and social hierarchy. C. It became, and until the twentieth century remained, the preeminent philosophic basis of the Chinese state. It also influenced the political structure of neighboring states.