Independence Day Observed
Independence Day is an annual public holiday in Myanmar on 4 January.
The holidays marks the date in 1948 when Myanmar proclaimed its independence from Britain.
Unlike many independence days, this is not Myanmar's National Day. That is celebrated on 6 December, when student riots in 1920 against British Rule are remembered.
In 1886, Myanmar (then called Burma) came under British control, with Rangoon (the capital. now called Yangon) being an important port situated between India and Singapore.
From the earliest days of colonisation, there was a strong feeling of resentment against the rule of the British, with Buddhist monks playing a key role in the independence movement.
Just before the outbreak of World War II, there had been some moves towards autonomy in 1937, when Burma became a separately administered colony of Britain, with Ba Maw appointed as the first Prime Minister and Premier of Burma.
Some Burmese saw the rise of Japan as an opportunity to gain independence from Britain, and when the conflict started, Ba Maw formed the Burma Independence Army in Japan.
The Japanese took Burma by March 1942 and though many Burmese fought initially on the side of the Japanese in World War II, many others fought with the British. The Burmese army even switched allegiance from Japan to the allied forces in 1945.
Following the end of the war and the defeat of Japan, the Panglong Agreement was reached on the 12 February 1947 which led to the unification of Burma as an independent state.
On 4 January 1948, the Union of Burma gained its independence from Britain. Notably it declined to the join the British Commonwealth. Shan National Sao Shwe Taik became the new country’s first President and U Nu its first Prime Minister.
Burma was renamed Myanmar in 1989 by its military government.
Festivals and traditional activities are held across the country to celebrate the date. The capital, Yangon is festooned in patriotic colours to mark the festivities. Men and women may wear the nation dress of Burma, which consists of a collarless shirt and skirt.