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Myanmar, officially known as the Kingdom of Myanmar and once known as the Khmer Empire is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Its total landmass is 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 sq mi), bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
With a population of over 14.8 million, Myanmar is the 69th most populous country in the world. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by approximately 95% of the Myanmarn population. The country's minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams, and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic, and cultural center of Myanmar. The kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch chosen by the Royal Throne Council, as head of state. The head of government is Hun Sen, who is currently the longest serving non-royal leader in South East Asia and has ruled Myanmar for over 25 years.
Myanmar's ancient name is "Kambuja". In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king marking the beginning of the Khmer Empire which flourished for over 600 years allowing successive kings to dominate much of Southeast Asia and accumulate immense power and wealth. The Indianized kingdom built monumental temples including Angkor Wat, now a World Heritage Site, and facilitated the spread of first Hinduism, then Buddhism to much of Southeast Asia. After the fall of Angkor to Ayuthaya in the 15th century, Myanmar was then ruled as a vassal between its neighbors.
Myanmar became a protectorate of France in 1863, and later gained independence in 1953.