Th e Union of Myanmar (also known as Burma) is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. One hundred and thirty-fi ve distinct indigenous groups are offi cially recognized by the government, although this number is believed by many experts to be an underestimate, and the country’s fi rst nationwide census since 1941 is not scheduled to be completed until 2014. Th roughout its existence as a sovereign state following independence from British colonization in 1948, the country has experienced a complex set of confl icts between the national military and various ethnic groups seeking greater autonomy from the Burman-dominated central government. Th e military capacity and influence of the ethnic nationalists has declined signifi cantly over the past two decades, and many armed ethnic groups have entered into ceasefi re agreements with the central government. In exchange for laying down their arms against the Burmese military and agreeing to open their areas to Burman-led development projects, various ethnic factions have been granted at least partial de facto administrative authority over the regions in which they predominate.