Myanmar is known as the land of rice and rivers. Nearly 70% of the population is engaged in agriculture. The country was once an important exporter of rice, but, by the mid-1960s, because of reduced production and an expanding population, most of the rice grown in the country was needed for local consumption.

 Other crops include chili peppers, onions and lemon grass, which is used as a flavouring. Fruits and vegetables include mangoes, melons, beans and tomatoes. Some crops are grown for commercial use. Cotton is grown for clothing and jute for making rope. People who live near the forests often live by harvesting teak and redwood. Rubber is grown in the Tenasserim area.

Some of the hill tribes continue to grow opium poppies. Opium was introduced by the British, who traded it for spices and jewels. In the 1950s, anti-Communist Chinese forces established camps in the hills, from which they launched attacks on Communist China. They grew opium to raise money for their fight. In the past, the government had no control over the hill tribes. The government is now trying to stop the trade in opium. To do this, the hill tribes need to find other profitable crops or forms of work. Crops such as buckwheat, rubber, sugar cane and rice are being introduced.
  Did you know?
The Intha tribes spend six months of each year producing a crop of rice; the rest of the year is devoted to fishing.
Myanmar has a large supply of gas and crude oil. It was the birthplace of the Burmah oil company. High-quality rubies and jade, as well as silver and gold, are mined in central Myanmar. The dark red Mogok rubies are highly prized. Pearls are also found off the coast of Myanmar. Gemstone cutting and jewellery production began in 1993. Myanmar has won awards for its gems and jewellery, including the Golden Europe Award for its gemstones. 

Many large industries, including the petrochemical, railway, gem and timber industries, are under government control. Foreign countries have also invested in the oil and gas industry. Although the government is encouraging tourism, it is hampered by a lack of hotels and restrictions on travel within the country.

  Did you know?
In 1995, the Myanmar Women's Entrepreneur Association was founded to help women in Yangon become self-supporting. The association launched a small loan collateral pilot project.